Forward Caste (also known as Forward Class,Forward Community, and General Class) is a term used in India to denote groups of people who do not qualify for any of the positive discrimination schemes operated by the government of India. These schemes are known as Reservation Benefits. Those groups who do so qualify are listed as Other Backward Castes or Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes and they can take advantage of defined quotas for education benefits, government employment and political representation. The lists of Forward, Other Backward and Scheduled Castes, and Scheduled Tribes are compiled irrespective of religion. The lists are subject to change from time to time, dependent upon social, educational and economic factors. However, although lists are produced for those groups entitled to take advantage of the quotas, there is no such list for the Forward Caste group; if a person does not belong to any of the listed groups then that person is by default a member of a group classed as Forward Caste.
Estimates put the forward Castes population at anywhere from 5-15%. However, a national sample survey estimates Forward Caste population almost same as Backward Castes at around 36%. Family health survey combined forward Castes population along with all communities of other religions. If you exclude Backward Castes of other religions, then it is around 38.6% which is more than Backward Castes population. State wise Forward Caste Population can be found from the chart.
Population by State
- Andhra Pradesh - Forward Castes: 28.7% of the total population (3% Brahmin, 6.5% Reddy, 1.2%Rajput/Raju/Kshatriya,2.7% Komati/Vaishya, 4.8%Kamma/Chowdary, 3% Velama, 15.2%Kapu/Telaga)[page needed]
- Arunachal Pradesh - NA (6% Brahmin)
- Assam - NA (4% Brahmin)
- Bihar - 13% (6.7% Brahmin, 4.2% Rajput, 2.9%Bhumihar & 1.2% Kayasth)[page needed]
- Chattisgarh - NA (2% Brahmin)
- Goa - NA (7% Brahmin)
- Gujarat - High Forward Castes: 13.1% (4.1% Brahmin, 4.9% Rajput, 3.0% Vaishya & 1.1% Others); Middle Forwards: 12.3% (12.2%Patel/Kanbi & 0.1% Others); Lower Forwards: 24.2% (24.2% Gujarati Kshatriya)[page needed]
- Haryana - 47% ( 21% Jat, 6 to 8% Brahmin, 9%Khatri/Sikh & remaining mostly Vaishya).
- Himachal Pradesh - 56% (14 to 20% Brahmin, 28% Rajput & remaining mostly Vaishya, Khatri and Saini).[page needed]
- J & K - NA (11% Brahmin, remaining mostly Saini and Dogra Rajput)
- Jharkhand - 7% (3% Brahmin, remaining mostly Rajput/Bhumihar/Kayasth/Bhadralok).[page needed] Baniya is OBC here.
- Karnataka - 27% ( 3 to 5% Brahmin, 13% Vokkaliga, 3% Maratha, 2% Bunt andKodava,remaining mostly Raju/Rajput & Vaishya).
- Kerala - 26% of the total population (1.5% Brahmin, 14.5% Malayala Kshatriya (Nair)/(Bunt), 0.5% Ambalavasi, 9% Syrian Christians & 0.5% Others).
- Maharashtra - 40% (29% Maratha & remaining, 4% Brahmin, 3% Lingayats
- Manipur - 43% (Brahmin/Manipuri Kshatriya)
- Madhya Pradesh - NA (5% Brahmin)
- Orissa - 49% (6 to 9% Brahmin, 35%Khandayat/Kshatriya & 5% Patnaik)[page needed]
- Punjab - 45% to 50% ( 30% to 35% Jatt, 3% to 4% Saini, 5% Brahmin, 10% to 12%Bania / Khatri / Arora / ).
- Rajastan - 46% (7 to 8% Brahmin, 8% Rajput, 8% Vaishya & 2% Jain)[page needed]
- Sikkim - NA (7% Brahmin)
- Tamil Nadu - 12% (3% Brahmin, 2.5% Naicker, 1.5% Reddiar and remaining mostly Pillai andThondaimandala Saiva Velalar sections of Vellalarand Nagarathar).[page needed]
- Tripura - NA (3% Brahmin)
- Uttar Pradesh - 20% (9 to 10% Brahmin, 2.5% Jat, 7.2% Thakur/Rajput, 2% Vaishya, 1% Kayasth).[page needed] Muslim forward classes: Syed(1%),Sheikh(1.2),Mugal(0.1%)Pathan(3%).
- Uttarakhand - 75% (20% Brahmin, remaining mostly Thakur/Rajput)[page needed]
- West Bengal - 33% (5% Brahmin, 8% Mahishya, remaining 20% Kayastha, Vaishya and other communities)[page needed]
- Delhi - NA (as of 2003, 9% Khatri, 5% Jats, 12% Brahmin)[clarification needed]
Status of Reservation Quotas in various states of India
The below table gives the proportion of the Households belonging to various reserved categories in the total population as per the NFHS 2007 survey conducted by the Government of India.
|State||GEN||OBC||SC||ST||OTH / NA|
Economic and educational status
The Government of India does not collect community census data except for SC/ST. Economic and educational level of various social groups are gauged using large sample surveys. The National Sample Survey taken in 1999–2000 and the National Family Health Survey taken in 2005-2006 (or perhaps an earlier round of the NFHS) estimated economic, educational, and health indicators of various communities. These surveys were used extensively in the report submitted by the oversight committee.
Forward Castes will have to compete only in the open category, as they are considered socially, educationally, and economically advanced. Currently the reservation proportion stands at 50% in central-government educational institutions and central-government jobs. However, in certain states such as Tamil Nadu, the reservation percentage stands at around 69%.
The 1998–1999 National Sample Survey calculated the economic status of forward communities separately for rural/urban areas in various income brackets. It shows
- Only 6.4% of forward Castes in rural areas appear in upper income bracket with per capita monthly income stands at above Rs 925 per month.
- 30% of rural population is made up of forward Castes.
- More than 65% of forward Castes per capita income stands below Rs 525 per month.
For urban areas:
- Only 5.6% of forward Castes appear in the upper-income bracket with per capita income at or above Rs. 1925 per month (around US $40).
- More than 25% of forward Castes per capita income stands below Rs. 500 per month (around $10)
- More than 30% of forward Castes above 15 years of age are illiterate.
- Only 8% of forward Castes are graduates.
- Around 85% of forward Castes above 15 years of age have done equal to or below secondary education (10 Years of education).
Reservation for economically backward among forward Castes
Currently forward Castes are only allowed to compete for seats in the unreserved category in educational institutions and central government jobs, irrespective of their educational/economical status in the society. However, a significant percentage of the Forward Caste population lives below the poverty line and more than 30% of the members of this community are illiterate. To meet their aspirations, demands have been raised for providing separate reservations for the poor among Forward Caste populations. Many political parties like Congress, BJP, Samajwadi Party, LJP, Rastriya Janata Dal, Communist Party of India(Marxist), Bahujan Samaj Party have supported proposals for providing separate reservation for the poor among the forward Castes. These parties account for over 400 of the 542 members in the current parliament, as well as holding power in most states in the union.
Poverty is widespread in all communities. Indian definition of poverty is living life with less than 0.25 US$/Day(Approx). Whereas United nations definition of Poverty is living life with less than $1/Day.More than 65% of forward Castes will be living below poverty line if UN poverty definition is considered.
- 1991: Congress government headed by Narasimha Rao introduced 10% separate reservation for poor among forward Castes.
- 1992: The Supreme Court has ruled in the Indra Sawhney case that separate reservation for poor among forward Castes as invalid. Government has withdrawn separate reservation as per supreme court judgement. (Many other verdicts given in same case has been overruled by constitutional amendments like quota in promotions, exceeding 50% reservations for Tamil Nadu, judgement regarding creamy layer in the same case was not implemented by Tamil Nadu so far.)
- 2003: BJP government appointed a group of Ministers for suggesting measures for implementation of separate reservation for poor among forward Castes.
- 2004: Task force has been set up to work out modalities for providing reservations to Poor among forward Castes.No information available regarding report submitted by this task force.
- 2006: Present Congress Government appointed commission to study separate reservation for economically backward Castes.
- 2006: Communist government in Kerala earmarked 12% seats in private professional colleges for economically poor among forward Castes.
Many backward Caste leaders allege forward Castes are over represented in many spheres of life. State and central governments have not released adequate data regarding representation of various communities in their services and admissions to educational institutions.Most of the Private companies in India does not collect data regarding community of their employees. Very few reports are available regarding representation of various communities in public–private services and admissions in educational institutions.
- In Tamil Nadu forward Castes have secured around 1.9% of seats in medical colleges in 2004 and 2.68 % seats in 2005 as 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.
- 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.
- Karnataka Minister in state Assembly has announced that per capita income of theBrahmins is lesser than all communities including scheduled castes and scheduled tribes.
- 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, Maharastra, Haryana, West Bengal, etc.
- National Survey 99-00 indicates that forward Castes are better placed than SC/ST in almost all parameters. However, in rural unemployment,forward Castes score worse than all other communities.
- Recently released Provisional report of National Survey 04-05 states that Buying capacity of Backward Castes in rural and urban areas are comparable to forward Castes. It also revises Backward Castes figure as 41%. It also 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).
- 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 refer chart.
Shrinking educational opportunities
During April 2006, India's Human Resource Minister announced that 27% seats will be reserved exclusively for candidates from Other Backward Castes in addition to existing 22.5 % reservation for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes. This announcement was done when polling process was underway in Tamil Nadu and Kerala. The election commission reprimanded Human Resources Ministry for making such announcement when election process was in progress.
 but did not give his opinion on this subject.
Impact of announcement on Forward Castes
After the implementation of OBC reservation, only 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%, whereas other communities will get major chunk 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. They have pointed out following as reasons for their protests.
- The Government has implemented reservations for the Scheduled castes and Scheduled Tribes for the last 60 years, however the social and economic situation of these groups has not shown much improvement. This might be interpreted as an indication of the ineffectiveness of reservation in higher educational institutions as a means of achieving social equality.
- Any difference between proportion of different communities in Higher educational institutions is mainly because of difference in primary school enrollment. (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
- Already 24% of college seats are with Other backward Castes. Providing another 27% seats will deprive chances of forward Castes.
- Reservation on the basis of caste is cornered only by rich and affluent. For example daughter of former President of India got admission into Indian Foreign Services denying opportunity to another poor person from her own community.
The Government of India decided to introduce 27% reservations for other backward Castes all over India. Many states does not have even 27% of other backward Caste population as per national sample surveys.(This includes major Indian states like Jammu & Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Goa, Maharashtra, Punjab, West Bengal). Some Indian states like Assam, Goa, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, West Bengal has more than 50% forward Castes populationFile:StatewiseFC.jpg which means no. 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 Castes to the areas with high tribal populations.
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In view of the above, the reservations in jobs and educational institutions should be only on economic backwardness and it should not be on caste or creed basis