Forward caste

General Class/General Category/Open Category is a term used in India to denote castes whose members are on average ahead of other Indians economically and socially. Forward castes account for about 30.8% of the population based on Schedule 10 of available data from the National Sample Survey Organisation 55th (1999–2000) and National Sample Survey Organisation 61st Rounds (2004–05) Round Survey.[1]

Those groups that qualify for reservation benefits are listed as Other Backward Class, Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes and Forward Caste also. They can avail defined quotas amongst other benefits for education, special government schemes, government employment and political representation. The lists of general, Other Backward class and Scheduled Castes, and Scheduled Tribes are compiled irrespective of religion.[2][3][4] The lists are subject to change from time to time, dependent upon social, educational and economic factors. Some forward caste are trying to get OBC quota.[5]

General casteEdit

General caste may be a relative or an absolute term. It may refer to:

  • A caste which does not come under OBC, SC and ST's.[6]
  • Forward Castes in the context of politics and reservation.

Economic and educational statusEdit

As of 2007, forward castes had to compete only in the open category, as they are considered socially, educationally, and economically advanced. At that time the reservation proportion stood at 50% in central-government educational institutions and central-government jobs. However, due to rigorous demand and the relative financial weakness of the people of the General category, the Government of India introduced another 10% as EWS quota for them which makes total reservation to around 60% . However, in certain states, such as Tamil Nadu, the reservation percentage is around 69%.[7]

Reservation for economically backward among forward castesEdit

Before 2019, forward castes were only allowed to compete for seats in the unreserved category in educational institutions and central government jobs, regardless of their educational/economical status in society. A significant percentage of the forward caste lives below the poverty line, and more than 30% of the members of this community are illiterate. To meet their aspirations, demands have been raised for providing separate reservations for the poor among forward caste populations. Many political parties like BJP, Samajwadi Party, LJP, Rastriya Janata Dal, Communist Party of India (Marxist), Bahujan Samaj Party[8][9][10][11] have supported proposals for providing a separate reservation for the poor among the forward castes. These parties account for over 400 of the 542 members in the current parliament, as well as holding power in most states in the union.


  • 1991: Congress government headed by Narasimha Rao introduced 10% separate reservation for poor among forward castes.[12]
  • 1992: The Supreme Court has ruled in the Indra Sawhney & Others v. Union of India case that separate reservation for poor among forward castes is invalid. Government has withdrawn separate reservation as per supreme court judgement.
  • 2003: BJP government appointed a group of ministers for suggesting measures for implementation of separate reservation for the poor among forward castes.[13]
  • 2004: A task force has been set up to determine modalities for providing reservations to the poor among forward castes. No information available regarding a report submitted by this task force.[14]
  • 2006: Present Congress government appointed commission to study separate reservation for economically backward class.[15]
  • 2006: Communist government in Kerala earmarked 12% seats in private professional colleges for economically poor among forward castes.[16]

State and central governments have not released adequate data regarding representation of various communities in their services and admissions to educational institutions.[citation needed] Most of the private companies in India do not collect data regarding community of their employees.

Rural landholding pattern of various social groups calculated by National Sample Survey 99-00 indicate that OBC and forward castes are comparable in wealth
  • In Tamil Nadu forward castes have secured around 1.9% of seats in medical colleges in 2004 and 2.68% seats in 2005, against their population percentage of 13%. See also caste-based reservations in Tamil Nadu. This trend of poor representation has continued for the last 10 years as claimed by lawyers in one of the reservation cases, As other communities are very competitive and they secure seats in General Quote because of education has reached beyond forward communities.[17]
  • Narendra committee report in Kerala has pointed out that forward castes representation in public services and PSU units is around 36 to 38%, which is more or less equal to their population percentage.[18]
  • Karnataka minister in state Assembly has announced that the per capita income of the Brahmins is less than all communities including scheduled castes and scheduled tribes.[19]
  • Oversight committee in its final report has indicated that forward castes are placed better than backward castes in some indicators and comparable with backward castes in few indicators and backward castes are superior in some parameters like health indicators in states like Assam, Maharashtra, Haryana, West Bengal, etc.[20]
  • National survey 99-00 indicates that forward castes are better placed than SC/ST in almost all parameters. In rural unemployment, forward castes score worse than all other communities.
  • Provisional report of National Sample Survey Organisation (2004–05) states that buying capacities of backward castes in rural and urban areas are comparable to forward castes. It also revises backward castes figure as 41%. It states that landownership of backward castes are comparable to forward castes. It reiterates its earlier finding (in 99-00 survey) that forward castes are poorly employed (more unemployment).[21]
  • National surveys used rural landholding pattern to assess wealthiness of various social groups. Its findings indicate that OBC and FC are comparable and there is a very minor difference between them. There is a big difference between OBC/FC and SC. Even Scheduled Tribes are placed better than Scheduled castes. Experts who analysed national survey results point out that other backward castes are near average in many parameters. Please see the chart.[22]
  • On 7 January 2019, Union Council of Ministers approved a 10% reservation in government jobs and educational institutions for the Economically Weaker Section (EWS) in the forward castes.[23] The cabinet decided that this would be over and above the existing 50% reservation for SC/ST/OBC categories.[24]

Shrinking educational opportunitiesEdit

Certain Indian states[which?] have Forward caste populations of (or near) 50%.[citation needed] In some of these states, the percentage of Forward castes admitted in educational institutions will be much less than their population percentage even if they secure all the seats in open competition.)

[citation needed]

During April 2006, India's Human Resource Minister announced that 27% seats will be reserved exclusively for candidates from Other Backward class in addition to existing 22.5% reservation for Scheduled castes and Scheduled Tribes.[25]

The implementation of OBC reservation meant that 50% of seats are available in open competition. All communities can compete in open competition which means forward castes must secure between 72% and 78% of the 'open competition' seats in order to maintain their representation in keeping with their estimated population of 36-39%,[citation needed] whereas other communities will get major number of seats through exclusive reservations. This has resulted in protests from Forward caste community members and supporters from other communities under the banner of Youth For Equality and by All India Anti Reservation Front. They[who?] have pointed out the following as reasons for their protests:[citation needed]

  • The government has implemented reservations for the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes for the last 60 years, and the social and economic situation of these groups has shown much needed improvement.
  • Any differences between proportions of different communities in higher educational institutions are mainly because of differences in primary school enrolment. (This fact was also confirmed in national sample surveys and pointed out by oversight committee in its final report). Government should attack the cause instead of providing reservation at higher education level.[citation needed]
  • Already 24% of college seats are with Other Backward class. Providing another 27% seats will deprive chances of Forward castes.[citation needed]

Many states do not have 27% of Other Backward class population, as per national sample surveys. (This includes major Indian states like Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Goa, Maharashtra, Punjab, West Bengal). Some Indian states like Assam[citation needed], Goa[citation needed], Haryana[citation needed], Himachal Pradesh[citation needed], Uttarakhand[citation needed], have more than 50% Forward castes population, which means the number of seats secured by Forward castes will not be equal to their population proportion even if they secure 100% seats in open competition in central government institutions of these states. Central government, however, excluded 27% reservations to Other Backward class to the areas with high tribal populations.[26]

However, on 7 January 2019, the Union Council of Ministers approved 10% reservation for the forward castes in government jobs and educational institutions. This group is classified as the Economically Weaker Section (EWS).[27] The cabinet decided that this would be over and above the existing 50% reservation for SC/ST/OBC categories.[28]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Sachar, Rajindar (2006). "Sachar Committee Report(2004-2005)" (PDF). Government of India. Retrieved 2008-09-27.
  2. ^ Gaurang R. Sahay (2004). "Hierarchy, difference and the caste system". In Dipankar Gupta (ed.). Caste in Question. SAGE. pp. 130–131. ISBN 9780761933243.
  3. ^ Girukamukkalla Savaraiah (1988). Rural Banking in India. Daya Publishing House. ISBN 9788170350446.
  4. ^ Balakrishnan Nair, V. (1994). Social Development and Demographic Changes in South India. ISBN 9788185880501. Retrieved 14 June 2015.
  5. ^ "OBC quota plea for Mahapatra Brahmins and Kayastha in Uttar Pradesh".
  6. ^ Gettleman, Jeffrey; Raj, Suhasini (17 November 2018). "'Tell Everyone We Scalped You!' How Caste Still Rules in India". New York Times. Retrieved 20 October 2020.
  7. ^ Tamil Nadu's quota stir an assertion of its 69 percent? (NEWS ANALYSIS) - India Archived 2012-07-13 at
  8. ^ Laloo bats for upper caste reservations, ExpressIndia, 5 May 2006. Archived March 12, 2007, at the Wayback Machine
  9. ^ Left strikes a masterstroke, ExpressIndia, 17 May 2006. Archived 2007-03-11 at the Wayback Machine
  10. ^ "Paswan for quota for economically backward". The Hindu. Archived from the original on March 11, 2007. Retrieved 14 June 2015.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  11. ^ "Cong. for 'quota' for poor among forward castes". The Hindu. 14 August 2003. Archived from the original on 17 March 2004.{{cite news}}: CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  12. ^ Bureau, The Rediff News. "Will Modi's quota meet same fate as Narasimha Rao's?". Rediff. Retrieved 2021-11-21.
  13. ^ "The Hindu : GoM to study quota for poor among forward castes". Archived from the original on October 21, 2003. Retrieved 14 June 2015.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  14. ^ "The Hindu Business Line: Jobs for economically backward classes: 4-member commission set up". Retrieved 14 June 2015.
  15. ^ "Commission for economically backward classes constituted". The Hindu. 2006-07-25. Archived from the original on 2007-03-13. Retrieved 14 June 2015.
  16. ^ "The Kerala Professional Colleges Bill And Social Justice". Retrieved 14 June 2015.
  17. ^ "TN Act on reservation under 9th schedule illegal". The Hindu. 31 October 2006. Archived from the original on 2008-05-23.
  18. ^ "League locks horns with upper castes, The Milli Gazette, Vol.5 No.15, MG109 (1-15 Aug 04)". Retrieved 14 June 2015.
  19. ^ "Are Brahmins the Dalits of today?". Retrieved 14 June 2015.
  20. ^ FINAL OVERSIGHT COMMITTEE -3.10.2006.doc
  21. ^ "OBC population has increased: NSSO". Hindustan Times. 31 October 2006. Archived from the original on 21 March 2007. Retrieved 9 November 2006. The National Sample Survey Organisation (NSSO) report released on Tuesday reveals that OBC population has increased from 35.8 per cent in 1999 to 41 per cent in 2004-05.... The survey brings out that the OBCs have a buying capacity almost equal to that of the forward communities and more than SC's and ST's.... In rural India, as many as eight per cent of OBCs spends Rs 1,100 or more every month as compared to 11 per cent of the forward communities.
  22. ^ Surjit S Bhalla, OBC: the Oh, so average Indian, Business Standard, 14 June 2013.
  23. ^ "Union Cabinet approves 10% reservation for economically weak among upper caste - Times of India". The Times of India. Retrieved 25 January 2019.
  24. ^ "Plea in SC challenges 10% quota to poor in general category". The Economic Times. 22 January 2019. Retrieved 25 January 2019.
  25. ^ "Quota for OBCs: "No escape for Government"". The Hindu. 2006-04-08. Archived from the original on 2006-04-09. Retrieved 14 June 2015.
  26. ^ "Reserve 27% seats for OBCs in 3 years: Bill". 30 August 2006. Retrieved 14 June 2015.
  27. ^ "Union Cabinet approves 10% reservation for economically weak among upper caste - Times of India". The Times of India. Retrieved 25 January 2019.
  28. ^ "Plea in SC challenges 10% quota to poor in general category". The Economic Times. 22 January 2019. Retrieved 25 January 2019.