OTHER BACKWARD CLASSES
The term backward casses has not been defined properly,either by the sociologists or by the Constitutio-makers.The backward classes are a large mixed category of persons with boundaries that are both unclear and elastic.They seem to comprise roughly one-third of the toatal population of the country.They consist of three main categories-the scheduled castes,the scheduled tribes and the other backward classes.The scheduled castes and scheduled tribes are comparatively better defined and they form roughly 22% of the total population according to the 1971 census.The other backward classes is a residual category.Their position is highly ambigous and it is not possible t give an exact statemen of their numbers.
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They were previously considered “shudras” under the traditional varna (caste) system, that is those who were the lowest of the “clean” castes. During the colonial period they were known as “NonBrahmans” and in several parts of India – especially in the Marathi- and Tamil-speaking areas, they mounted militant movements challenging Brahmanism. In most of northern India, in contrast, movements were more Sanskritized, with the Yadavas encouraged to identify with Krishna and think of themselves as of the lineage of Krishna, while the Kurmis (peasants) were taught to identify with Rama. There is a great hierarchy among the OBCs. The group considering themselves “highest” are the mainly peasant castes (Kurmis in north India, Kunbis in Maharashtra, Vellalas in south India, etc) and the herding (Yadavas, Dhangars, Korbis) and gardening (Malis, Sainis) communities. Ranging below these are the various artisan and service groups – goldsmiths, blacksmiths, barbers, washermen etc. This linkage of caste with profession is unique to the Indian caste system. Ambedkar had described caste as a “graded hierarchy” with a ascending ladder of status and a descending degree of contempt; Phule had talked of how the “ignorant Kunbi looked down on the ignorant Mahar, the ignorant Mahar scorned the ignorant Mang” – these were expressions of this hierarchy of caste, in which every group tried to claim a higher