Bhubaneswar: After 27 years, the Odisha State Commission for Backward Classes (OSCBC) Saturday started functioning in the state. Commission chairperson Justice (retired) Raghunath Biswal and other members Navaneeta Rath, Mitali Chinara and Prasanna Kumar Patra have taken over the charge Saturday.
Justice Biswal said a database of the Other Backward Classes (OBC) in the state will be prepared soon. Deserving castes will be included in the list while those found socially and economically developed will be excluded from the OBC list, he said.
“We will implement the reservation on the recommendations of the Mandal Commission,” Biswal said, adding the panel will submit its report to the state government after conducting a socio-economic caste survey.
The Commission will also hear other problems concerning interest and welfare of the backward classes. By functioning of the commission, a long pending demand of the backward classes of the state has been fulfilled.
This is for the second time, the Commission was constituted in accordance with the provisions contained in the Odisha State Commission for Backward Classes Act, 1993. The first commission was constituted in 1993. However, after the completion of the tenure, the panel was never put back in place.
In January last year, the State Cabinet had passed a resolution to move the Centre for a caste-based enumeration alongside the General Census 2021. But, the Centre has turned down the proposal of Odisha.
In February 2020, the State Assembly passed the State Commission for Backward Classes (Amendment) Bill, 2020 and a separate resolution, paving the way for conducting surveys of the social and economic condition of people belonging to backward classes.
In 2008, it enacted the Odisha Reservation of Posts and Services for (Socially and Educationally Backward Classes) Act seeking 27 per cent reservation in posts and services in the state in case of of direct recruitment for the SEBC subject to exclusion of the creamy layer. However, it was quashed by the State Administrative Tribunal (SAT) and later by the Orissa High Court in 2017.
OBC people get 27 per cent reservation in education and jobs. But, Odisha youths have been deprived of the benefits for over 30 years due to lack of political willpower, Union Minister Dharmendra Pradhan who has written several letters to Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik in this regard.
In his reaction, BJD MP Bhartruhari Mahtab said while states like Tamil Nadu get benefits of reservations up to 65 or 67 per cent, others including Odisha are depriving people of this. There are some anomalies in the country, he said.
Though other backward castes account for over 50 per cent of the state’s population, caste has never been a factor in Odisha politics unlike in northern states of Bihar and Uttar Pradesh or southern states like Karnataka.