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Working of Institutions

A Government Order

On August 13, 1990, the Government of India issued an Order. It was called an Office Memorandum. Like all government orders, it had a number and is known by that: O. M. No. 36012/31/90-Est (SCT), dated 13.8.1990. The Joint Secretary, an officer in the Department of Personnel and Training in the Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions, signed the Order. It was quite short, barely one page. It looked like any ordinary circular or notice that you may have seen in school. The government issues hundreds of orders every day on different matters. But this one was very important and became a source of controversy for several years. Let us see how the decision was taken and what happened later.


This Order announced a major policy decision. It said that 27 per cent of the vacancies in civil posts and services under the Government of India are reserved for the Socially and Economically Backward Classes (SEBC). SEBC is another name for all those people who belong to castes that are considered backward by the government. The benefit of job reservation was till then available only to Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes. Now a new third category called SEBC was introduced. Only persons who belong to backward castes were eligible for this quota of 27 per cent jobs. Others could not compete for these jobs.


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