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Vokkaligas, Lingayats Share in Reservation


Recently, Karnataka has categorized the two dominant communities, Vokkaligas and Lingayats, as “moderately backward” from the “backward” category in a move that could increase their share in reservation for Other Backward Classes (OBC).


GS II: Polity and Governance

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Details
  2. Who are Lingayats?
  3. Who are Vokkaligas?
  4. What changes have been made to the OBC Reservation Status Over Time?
  5. What is the extent of OBC recruitment in central jobs?


  • Karnataka currently has a 32% OBC quota, 17% and 7% quotas for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, respectively, bringing the total to 56%.
  • The Panchamasali sub-sect of Veerashaiva Lingayats has demanded inclusion in the 2A category, which has 15% quota, from their current 3B category, which has 5% quota.
  • A newly constructed 2C category with 4% reservation will be created for the Vokkaliga community, which is now in the 3A category.
  • Additionally, the Lingayat community—which was previously in the 3B category—will now fall under the new 2D category, which has a 5% reservation.
  • The Cabinet’s decision assures that the Lingayat community is not divided into smaller groups.
  • The majority Lingayats, who make up over 17% of Karnataka’s six crore population, are followed by the Vokkaligas.
  • The current reservations made for other communities will not be impacted by the new categories.
  • Only the job and educational sectors will be subject to the reservation; politics are excluded.

Who are Lingayats?

  • A person is referred to be a lingayat if they wear a personal linga, which is an iconic representation of the Hindu god Shiva, on their body after undergoing an initiation rite.
  • The Lingayats are devotees of Basaveshwara, a poet and social reformer who lived in the 12th century.
  • Both the caste system and Vedic rituals offended Basaveshwara.
  • The Lingayats adhere to monotheism to the letter. They encourage worshipping Linga as the sole deity (Shiva).
  • Lingayats had been classified as a Hindu subcaste called “Veerashaiva Lingayats” and they are considered to be Shaivites.
Lingayats have their own religion:
  • Lingayats have separated from Hindu Veerashaivas because they adhere to the Vedas and uphold the caste system, which Basaveshwara opposed.
  • Veerashaivas are devotees of the Pancha Peethas, a group of five peethas (religious centres). These peethas are organised similarly to Adi Shankara’s four peethas.

Who are Vokkaligas?

  • Even the Rashtrakutas and Western Gangas are thought to have sprung from the Vokkaliga.
  • Vokkaliga is a group defined by occupation, and in that sense, it could be considered an ethnic category since its members are mostly farmers at core.
  • The Indian state of Karnataka is where the Vokkaliga caste first appeared. The Vokkaligas made up the majority of the population in the former princely state of Mysore.
  • They have historically possessed enormous demographic, political, and economic power in Old Mysore as a community of warriors and cultivators.

What changes have been made to the OBC Reservation Status Over Time?

  • The Kalelkar Commission, established in 1953, was the first to identify  backward classes at the national level outside of Scheduled Castes (SCs) and Scheduled Tribes (STs).
  • According to the 1980 Mandal Commission Report, 52% of the population was from the OBC, and 1,257 communities were deemed backward.
    • In order to incorporate the OBCs, it was suggested that the existing quotas, which were only for SC/ST, be raised from 22.5% to 49.5%.
  • The central government reserved 27% of seats in union civil posts and services for OBCs [Article 16(4)]. The quotas were subsequently enforced in central government educational institutions [Article 15 (4)].
  • The Supreme Court ordered the national government to eliminate the advanced parts (the creamy layer) from the OBCs in 2008.
  • The National Commission for Backward Classes (NCBC), which was previously a statutory organisation under the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, now has constitutional status thanks to the 102nd Constitution Amendment Act of 2018.

What is the extent of OBC recruitment in central jobs?

  • According to data tabled in Parliament by MoS for Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions, in Rajya Sabha on March 17, the total number of Group A to Group C employees (including safai karmacharis) was 5.12 lakh (see table).
    • Of these, 17.70% are SC, 6.72% ST, 20.26% OBC (Other Backward Classes), and 0.02% EWS (Economically Weaker Sections).
    • In Group-A, the highest tier among these, the representation of SCs is just 12.86%, of STs 5.64% and of OBCs 16.88%. Reservation for these communities is 15%, 7.5% and 27% respectively.
  • These data cover 43 departments and government offices including Cabinet Secretariat, UPSC and Election Commission, but excluding the largest central government employers such as Railways and Department of Posts.
  • Among Secretaries and Special Secretaries, only six belong to SCs and STs, and, “no data regarding OBC is maintained”.
  • Out of 91 Additional Secretaries, the number of officers belonging to SC/ST and OBC communities are 10 and 4 respectively and out of 245 Joint Secretaries, the number of officers belonging to SC/ST and OBC communities are 26 and 29 respectively in various Ministries/Departments under Central Staffing Scheme.

-Source: Indian Express

February 2024