Govt to raise in­come bar for OBC creamy layer Res­cuers scram­ble to save flood-hit an­i­mals

EYE ON POLLS? De­ci­sion will in­clude more OBC peo­ple in reser­va­tion ben­e­fits

Hindustan Times ST (Mumbai) - HT Navi Mumbai Live - - FRONT PAGE - Payal Ban­er­jee let­ters@hin­dus­tan­ HT Cor­re­spon­dents let­ters@hin­dus­tan­ HT Cor­re­spon­dent ht­metro@hin­dus­

The govern­ment plans to bring a larger sec­tion of other back­ward classes (OBCs) un­der the reser­va­tion net by re­lax­ing the an­nual in­come ceil­ing that ex­cludes them from these ben­e­fits from Rs6 lakh to Rs8 lakh.

The proposal — part of a cab­i­net note pre­pared by the min­istry of so­cial jus­tice and em­pow­er­ment — in­di­cates an­other at­tempt by the BJP to woo OBCs in states go­ing to polls early next year, espe­cially in Ut­tar Pradesh where they make up 40% of the pop­u­la­tion.

OBCs are at present en­ti­tled to a 27% quota in pub­lic-sec­tor jobs and higher ed­u­ca­tion if they earn Rs6 lakh or less a year. Those who earn above this cap — re­ferred to as the ‘creamy layer’ — are not el­i­gi­ble.

The cab­i­net is likely to ap­prove the proposal af­ter Par­lia­ment’s mon­soon ses­sion gets over on Au­gust 12, of­fi­cial sources said.

OBCs make up 52% of In­dia’s pop­u­la­tion, ac­cord­ing to a 1980 re­port of the Man­dal com­mis­sion — set up to iden­tify so­cially or ed­u­ca­tion­ally back­ward sec­tions for quota con­sid­er­a­tions. The re­port drew the num­ber from the 1931 cen­sus. The find­ings of a caste-based cen­sus con­ducted in 2011, the first in 80 years, are not out.

The Na­tional Sam­ple Sur­vey Or­gan­i­sa­tion in 2006 put the OBC pop­u­la­tion at 41% but this is not con­sid­ered ac­cu­rate by many as the NSSO looked at con­sump­tion ex­pen­di­ture and not pop­u­la­tion.

The Congress’ Man­ish Te­wari called it a “move to de­flect at­ten­tion from the BJP’s anti-back­ward, anti-Dalit and anti-poor cre­den­tials”. Naresh Agar­wal of the Sa­ma­jwadi Party, in power in UP, re­fused to com­ment.

Po­lit­i­cal com­men­ta­tors called it an im­age-makeover ex­er­cise af­ter Rashtriya Swayam­sangh Sangh chief Mo­han Bhag­wat’s re­marks in Septem­ber — be­fore the Bi­har elec­tions — call­ing for a re­view of the reser­va­tion sys­tem, though he later clar­i­fied that the Sangh was not in favour of scrap­ping quo­tas.

The last re­vi­sion of the creamy layer in­come cap was in 2013 when it was in­creased from Rs4.5 lakh to Rs6 lakh.

In May 2015, the depart­ment of per­son­nel and train­ing re­quested the min­istry to re-ex­am­ine the cri­te­rion for de­ter­min­ing the ‘creamy layer’ for OBCs. The min­istry gave the job to the Na­tional Com­mis­sion for Back­ward Classes (NCBC), which rec­om­mended that the ceil­ing be raised to Rs15 lakh per an­num.

The min­istry re­vised this to Rs8.16 lakh, and a source said the fig­ure “may be ap­pro­pri­ately rounded off ”.

“The NCBC rec­om­men­da­tion was based on the salaries of group A of­fi­cers, a cer­tain level of de­fence forces and para­mil­i­tary of­fi­cers, etc. We have re­vised the in­come limit based on Con­sumer Price In­dex,” said an of­fi­cial.

The tor­ren­tial rains over the past weeks may have in­con­ve­nienced many hu­mans, but they’ve ac­tu­ally en­dan­gered an­i­mals — even the na­tional an­i­mal.

Across the flooded Valmiki Tiger Re­serve in Bi­har and Kazi­ranga Na­tional Park in As­sam, smaller an­i­mals are strug­gling to avoid drown­ing while the big­ger ones like the tiger and rhi­nos face a threat to their lives from poach­ers, who take ad­van­tage of the sit­u­a­tion to hunt them down.

But at the VTR and KNP, ded­i­cated groups of for­est guards and ama­teur wildlife en­thu­si­asts are work­ing round-the-clock to keep wildlife ca­su­al­ties to a min­i­mum and res­cue smaller and younger an­i­mals which don’t have the strength to ne­go­ti­ate the strong cur­rents and are of­ten swept away.

At the VTR, 50 swim­mers em­ployed by the for­est depart­ment are help­ing in res­cue of wildlife such as hog deer and bark­ing deer, car­ry­ing them to dry A man car­ries an el­derly woman through flood wa­ters af­ter their homes were sub­merged in As­sam’s Mori­gaon.

land. Nearly 400 for­est guards are also work­ing with anti-poach­ing squads, tiger track­ers and reg­u­lar pa­trol teams, of­fi­cials said.

At KNP, res­cuers are adopt­ing in­no­va­tive means to help the con­fused an­i­mals.

On Fri­day, res­cuers care­fully cov­ered the eyes of a rhino calf with a piece of cloth to pre­vent more trauma to the young an­i­mal dur­ing the jour­ney to safety and a shel­ter. The rhino was sep­a­rated

from its mother and was lost in the surg­ing flood wa­ters of the Brahma­pu­tra. “We are try­ing to get the an­i­mals out of the flood zone and guide them to safer ar­eas,” said RB Singh, the field di­rec­tor of VTR, spread across 800 sq km in West Cham­paran dis­trict. But rarely does the Gan­dak river cause so much flood­ing in the game sa­fari.

Satish Mathur, a 1981batch In­dian Po­lice Ser­vice (IPS) of­fi­cer has been ap­pointed Ma­ha­rash­tra’s new di­rec­tor gen­eral of po­lice. He will take over from Praveen Dixit, who will re­tire on Sun­day.

The state home depart­ment is­sued the or­der on Satur­day morn­ing, af­ter CM Deven­dra Fad­navis signed it.

Mathur, 58, has two years to go be­fore he re­tires in June 2018. He ear­lier headed the state ACB.

Mathur be­gan his ca­reer as an as­sis­tant su­per­in­ten­dent of po­lice in Kol­ha­pur. Dur­ing his term as DCP, crime and spe­cial branch, in Nagpur, the in­ves­ti­gat­ing agency had se­cured con­vic­tions in two high-pro­file mur­der cases.

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