Reservations based on a Deprivation Certificate and a Deprivation Score

One of the comments on this post is the basis of this post.

Since the announcement of reservations for OBCs by the HRD ministry in last May, we have seen lot of ideas/discussions from either side of the reservation debate. Out of all this I have been trying to think how and if can caste be removed from the forefront of all this.

What constitutes on OBC has always been at the core of the discussion in most cases. Hopping around the blogosphere I have come across some of these questions.

  1. Who is an OBC?
  2. Why is such and such caste an OBC?
  3. How can such and such caste and the other caste be lumped together? That is equal treatment of unequals.
  4. How come a rich OBC’s son deserves reservation compared to a poor upper caste kid?
  5. What about reservations for women?
  6. What about reservations for Muslims? Or religious minorities?

And there are many more.

At this point I would liked to throw in the idea of a deprivation certificate and deprivation score as the basis of providing reservations.

Deprivation Certificate(DC) would be a certificate with the certificate holder’s identification and a deprivation score. Here are some key points.

  1. Everybody(no matter what caste, creed, sex, race or religion ) is required to obtain a DC from the govt. very much like a birth certificate.
  2. A DC would be a required document for admission to educational institutes and jobs.
  3. The Score will be calculated based on many different criteria. I will throw in a few, feel free to add/remove more
    • Caste
    • Family History
    • Gender
    • Economic Status
    • Geographical region
    • Religion
  4. The Score will be valid for a period of say 5 years and after that it must be re-calculated. This is necessary because the score depends on factors that are not constant.
  5. Every criterion would carry a certain weight. How much? I guess that is the tough question that would have to be answered. But the thing is that the weight can also be revised over a period of time. For example, caste could carry more weight than economic status. Or even one caste could have more weight than the other.

Reservations based on DC and the score would fill the non reserved seats from everybody based on the merit and the reserved seat would be filled based on the score and merit. In the case of two candidates with same marks and different deprivation scores, the candidate with higher deprivation score would get the seat.


The biggest benefit of this, in my view, would be the elimination of the caste and its name from the fore front. Yes the caste will still be a factor but just by looking at the score one cannot make out whether the score is of a lower caste person or a person with a poor background or a religious minority or what not. A poor brahmin and a well to do OBC could end up having the same score.

It addresses the creamy layer issue as well.

Another benefit would be that it is an all inclusive framework that would take care of women, religious minorities and every other inequalities that we could think of.

It  allows for grading different criteria by allocating weights to each.

In this scheme of things an individual can be evaluated on his/her own merit and the biggest thing is everybody by applying for the DC and the D-Score will essentially have to prove that he or she is deprived and the score will reflect that. The re-evaluation of score leave room for people to move out of the benefit net.

May 14, 2007 · Ajit · 11 Comments
Posted in: Caste, Quota Reservations, Reservations

11 Responses

  1. Thiagan - May 14, 2007


    The idea is sound and as PI says it takes care of poverty, caste, women and minorities.

    There should be negative marking for those who have more than two children and no help for those with five and more children.

    My only reservation would be: muslim countries treat the minorities very very badly; why we should behave differently from them. Do unto them in India, what they do unto us in Pakistan/ Bangladesh

  2. Vinaya Singh - May 14, 2007

    Dear PI,

    I like the idea and let us pursue it with Central Government of India. For more details, please visit at

    Thanks & Regards,

  3. B Shantanu - May 14, 2007

    Interesting idea.
    In my opinion though, the crux of the matter is not defining the criteria (I think yours is a good attempt) but the lack of data…
    What do you think?

  4. Polite Indian - May 15, 2007


    I know your beef with the Muslims so I won’t comment on that.


    It is not only about data. BTW, what kind of data can you collect? The data that will tell you whether a particular caste should be considered an OBC or not? And how do you prove that? If a certain percentage is in the mainstream does it mean there are not others who face discrimination? There are no clear answers to these.

    I think there are two questions
    1. Should OBCs get reservation or not?
    2. Who are the OBCs?
    To answer the first question you have to answer the second. To answer this you need to specify criteria that will define an OBC. Mandal uses 11 such criteria with caste being the predominant one.
    Then comes the next question – Is once a backward always a backward a correct philosophy? There comes the creamy layer question.
    Next comes the question of representation. If x% of a certain caste are represented in the mainstream, should the entire caste be taken out from the benefit net? These are gray areas.

    Now if you look at the model suggested, it would take care of all these questions. In fact it is an enhancement on the Mandal criteria by adding the facility to grade the criteria and come up with a score. The renewal policy takes care of people already benefited out of the net.

  5. Abi - May 15, 2007

    I tried to leave a comment here last night, but didn’t quite succeed. Perhaps your spam filter ate it up. Let me try again.

    I’m sure you have heard of Purushottam Agrawal, Satish Deshpande, Yogendra Yadav? They have proposed such schemes, and their ideas got a lot of play in old media as well as in blogs last year when the quota issue exploded. At that time it was also pointed out that JNU has had a similar scheme for admitting students to its programs for quite some time.

    I’m sorry for the plug, but I have some links to the ideas of Agrawal, Deshpande and Yadav here:

  6. Polite Indian - May 15, 2007


    Thanks for the link. I have gone through the two links provided to The Hindu articles. I must say those are definitely good ideas, however that will work very well where the difference in marks is not huge. In some cases as we see for SC/STs the cutoff limit is way less than the open category. I am afraid there is no easy way to address this.
    As it stands today that proposal could be adopted at a later time when the difference has narrowed down to an extent where the gap can be filled by providing additional marks. Till then there has to be an exclusive area for the BCs to compete within.

    In my proposal I would like to make another suggestion. If say 50% seats are reserved to be filled via deprivation scores then those 50% should be split into two or three buckets based on scores. For e.g 25% seats for score between 1000 to 2000 and 15% for 400 to 1000 and 10% from 1 to 400. The benefit of doing this will be to give chances to people from different range of scores. Otherwise if there are too many candidates with higher deprivation score then they might corner all the seats.

  7. silkboard - May 20, 2007

    PI, good thoughts. And as Abi said, similar things have been floated around.

    But at this point, I will have to agree with Shantanu and say that the problem is that of data. Arriving on the ‘weights’ you talked about would need a lot of data.

    A religion/caste/creed/economic status/family history type census is perhaps the need of the hour. I have heard many say – why do such ‘caste-ist’ thing in present day and age. But to solve a mess, you can’t be blind to it. Need to get our hands dirty by way of these seemingly non-‘secular’ census/surveys.

    Forming laws without supporting data for its bases/hypothesis – best would be to have ‘historic’ data as in what has changed since some reservations were implemented – will be criminal, and SC only pointed that out.

  8. Polite Indian - May 21, 2007

    I don’t disagree that we need data. In fact I am for all kinds of data collection but I think how you use that data is very important. If we collected all the data and didn’t weigh them properly, the whole idea of reservations could be compromised. What I think is required is , in addition to collection of data, a mechanism that will require periodic review of an individual’s backwardness and also a mechanism to get people out of the benefit net.

  9. Polite Indian The Rajasthan Story Of Caste Politics. « - May 31, 2007

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  10. Thiagan - July 6, 2007


    PI says
    “I know your beef with the Muslims so I won’t comment on that.”

    Thiagan says:
    This is unfair. I have commended the proposal as sensible. I have only suggested a limitation clause in the national interests. It is not unreasonable to expect that Islam should give the same benefits to their minorities, which they demand from others. Does their persistent refusal not surprise you?

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