Sub-Categorization of Scheduled Castes

Sub-Categorization of Scheduled Castes

This article covers “Daily Current Affairs” and the topic details “Sub-Categorization of Scheduled Castes”. This topic has relevance in the Polity and Governance section of the UPSC CSE exam.

For Prelims:

About the Presidential List?

For Mains:

GS 2: Polity and Governance

Grounds for Sub-Categorization?

Arguments Against Sub-Categorization?


Why in the news?

During his visit to Telangana, PM Modi announced that the Government of India would establish a sub-committee to reclassify reservations for Scheduled Castes, specifically focusing on empowering the Madiga community.



Sub-categorization, often referred to as the classification of Scheduled Castes (SCs) into sub-groups, has been a topic of contention in the context of reservation policies in India. This practice aims to address the inequality within the SCs, recognizing that certain groups within this category may remain under-represented despite existing reservation benefits.


Special Quotas and Legislative Attempts:

  • States like Andhra Pradesh, Punjab, Tamil Nadu, and Bihar have introduced special quotas for the most vulnerable Dalits within the SCs.
  • In 2000, Andhra Pradesh passed a law reorganizing 57 SCs into sub-groups, attempting to allocate the SC quota in educational institutions and government jobs in proportion to their population.
  • However, the 2005 Supreme Court ruling declared this law unconstitutional, asserting that states cannot modify the Presidential list identifying SCs and STs.


Presidential List and Sub-Categorization:

  • Article 341 of the Constitution empowers the President to notify castes as SCs and STs.
  • The Presidential list is dynamic, varying across states, with certain castes identified as SCs in one state and not in another.
  • No community has been specified as SC in Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Andaman & Nicobar Islands, and Lakshadweep.


Grounds for Sub-Categorization:

  • Special protections for SCs originated from the historical practice of untouchability, applying to all castes regardless of economic or educational factors.
  • The 2018 ruling introduced the concept of the “creamy layer,” imposing an income ceiling for eligibility for reservation.
  • The creamy layer concept was upheld for SCs, prompting a review by the central government.


Arguments Against Sub-Categorization:

  • Critics argue that the test of social and educational backwardness is not applicable to SCs and STs, emphasizing that special treatment is based on the historical injustice of untouchability.
  • Concerns about sub-categorization being driven by political motives to appease vote-banks are raised.
  • Reference to the Jarnail Singh case highlights the goal of ensuring that all backward classes progress together, with the court acknowledging existing social inequities among SCs.
  • The pending review of the 2018 verdict on the creamy layer concept adds complexity to the ongoing debate.



The debate around sub-categorization reflects the intricate challenges in balancing historical injustices, social realities, and the constitutional goal of achieving social transformation through reservation policies for SCs.

Source: Layering failure: Sub-categorisation of SC quota is not enough to compensate for limited routes for upward mobility (


Q.1 With reference to reservation for SC/ST’s , consider the following statements:

  1. Article 341 empowers the President to identify and notify certain castes as Scheduled Castes (SCs) and Scheduled Tribes (STs).
  2. The Presidential list is uniform across all states, ensuring that the same castes are identified as SCs in every state.
  3. No community has been specified as SC in Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Andaman & Nicobar Islands, and Lakshadweep.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

(a) 1 and 2 only

(b) 2 and 3 only

(c) 1, 2 and 3

(d) 1 and 3 only




Q.2 Discuss the concept of sub-categorization within the Scheduled Castes category in the context of Indian reservation policies. Provide your insights on whether sub-categorization is a viable approach to addressing the internal inequalities within the Scheduled Castes.

No Comments

Post A Comment