CHENNAI: At a time when the country has a globally popular OBC Prime Minister at the helm, as many as 20 Union ministries and 25 departments have shied away from disclosing the number of OBC staff on their rolls under the Right to Information Act.
Only 10 ministries and 18 departments have parted with information on the staff belonging to the Other Backward Classes (OBC) serving in 2013.
“Even the available figures are nothing to boast of for the government 21 years since the Mandal Commission recommendations on OBC reservations were implemented. Only 9.49 per cent of the 24,685 Group A officers who were serving in these 10 ministries, 18 departments and four Central bodies belonged to the OBCs,” said E Muralidharan, a city activist who sought the data under the RTI Act.
Muralidharan said that among the ministries which did not provide the information were the Railways, Home, Finance, Shipping, Power, Civil Aviation and Social Justice.
“I fear that if data from these ministries, which are large employers, are included the numbers of OBCs could be far fewer,” Muralidharan added wondering why officials were secretive about figures pertaining to the erstwhile UPA government.
In his RTI petition, Muralidharan had sought details of officials employed category wise in all Central ministries/departments, including the President and Vice President’s Secretariat, Prime Minister’s Office and Planning Commission, as on December 31, 2013.
Muralidharan also wanted to know what action was initiated against departments/ministries which failed to disclose the information.
Responding to this, Sandeep Mukherjee, Under Secretary, Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT), said, “No such information (on action taken) is available with this department.”
“It is mandatory as per an Office Memorandum (OM No. No.43011/10/2002-Estt (Res.), dated December 19, 2003, for all departments, ministries and others to furnish these details to DoPT by January 1 every year,” said Muralidharan.
Curiously, even the PMO did not share information of its OBC staff.
The available information showed that only 11.34 per cent of the 36,312 Group B officers in the 32 Central organisations were OBCs.
In Group C category jobs, the OBCs constituted just 15.80 per cent (of 40,504 staff) and among safai karamcharis
(conservancy staff) their composition was 15.35 per cent (of 2,124 employees).
The OBCs in these categories accounted for 14.63 per cent of 2,72,264 employees.
“This is way lesser than the 27 per cent reservation the OBCs are entitled to,” said Muralidharan sharing his concern that if this trend continued then caste-based reservations would be perpetuated for many decades to come and affirmative action would merely turn out to be political tokenism.