Odisha To Constitute Commission For Backward Classes

The state government has decided to constitute a commission for backward classes, which will be headed by a retired High Court judge. The decision came at a time when the state cabinet passed a resolution to move the Centre for a socio-economic caste enumeration along with the general census 2021.

Chief Secretary Asit Tripathy had requested the Union secretary Rajiv Gauba to consider the proposal for a caste-based census earlier in January. The centre has not yet declared its stance on this. The committee will be headed by former Odisha HC judge Justice Raghunath Biswal with academicians like Navneeta Rath (professor in sociology), Mitali Chinara (professor in economics), and Prasanna Kumar Patra (professor in anthropology) joining as the members of the commission. Serving bureaucrat VV Yadav will be the member secretary of the commission, as per an official statement.

The committee was formed concerning the Odisha State Commission for Backward Classes Act, 1993, a law that came into existence during Biju Patnaik’s reign. This law gives the committee permission to include any class of citizens in the backward class list, also suggesting the state government on any such moves.

In a move to uplift the backward classes, Odisha had enacted the Orissa Reservation of Posts and Services (for SEBC) Act, 2008 that aimed to provide 27 percent quota to the backward classes in public recruitment. But after a legal struggle, the percentage was brought down to 11.25 percent.

“The state government has finally succumbed to the pressure of the outfits fights for rights of backward classes. Formation of the commission is a welcome move, but it remains to be seen, what power it will give to the backward commission”, said Former Union minister Srikant Jena.

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