What does the law say about Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, and Other Backward Classes?
What does the law say about Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, and Other Backward Classes?(Photo: Harsh Sahani/The Quint)
  • 1. Who Are Scheduled Castes?
  • 2. Where Did the Term 'Scheduled Castes' Originate?
  • 3. What Is the Law on Scheduled Castes?
  • 4. Which Communities Fall Under Scheduled Caste Category?
  • 5. What Laws Were Created to Protect Scheduled Castes?
  • 6. Who Are Scheduled Tribes?
  • 7. What Laws Were Created to Protect Scheduled Tribes?
  • 8. What Are Other Backward Classes?
  • 9. What Does the Law Say About Other Backward Classes?
  • 10. Who Is the Economically Backward Class?
Who Are the Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, OBCs and EBCs?

Who are Scheduled Castes? Who are Scheduled Tribes? What sets the two groups apart from Other Backward Castes? And what provisions does Indian law have for these communities?

  • 1. Who Are Scheduled Castes?

    What does the law say about Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, and Other Backward Classes?
    Dalit communities continue to face threats of violence, eviction and withholding of wages, apart from severe oppression and ostracism. Representative image. 
    (Photo: Reuters)

    Scheduled castes are sub-communities within the framework of the Hindu caste system who have historically faced deprivation, oppression, and extreme social isolation in India on account of their perceived ‘low status’.

    Only marginalised Hindu communities can be deemed Scheduled Castes in India, according to The Constitution (Scheduled Castes) Order, 1950.

    Scheduled caste communities were considered avarna, or outside the existing varna system. They were considered to be a section of people in Hindu society who are not from the four major varnas, i.e., Brahmin, Kshatriya, Vaishya, and Shudra.
    Vivek Kumar, Professor of Sociology, Centre for the Study of Social System, School of Social Sciences, Jawaharlal Nehru University 

    Those who belonged to one of the four major varnas are called Savarna.

    The Hindu four-tier caste system, or varna system, forced these communities into work that predominantly involved sanitation, disposal of animal carcasses, cleaning of excreta, and other tasks that involved contact with “unclean” materials.

    The communities adapted the name Dalit, or Harijan, which meant ‘children of god.’

    Also Read : Dalits & RSS Can’t Reconcile – Not Before Annihilation of Caste

    The avarna communities were also referred to as “Untouchables”. They were prohibited from drinking water from shared water sources, living in or using areas frequented by “higher castes,” and faced social and economic isolation, often being denied rights and privileges that many born into savarna castes consider “fundamental rights”.

    The 2011 Census places the number of scheduled castes in India at 16.6 percent of the total population, or approximately 166,635,700 people.


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