The Creamy Layer Debate of Schedule Caste and Schedule Tribe

Written by Pratyush Paras Sarma

The term creamy layer was first coined by Justice Krishna Iyer in State of Kerala versus NM Thomas, wherein he noticed that advantages of the reservation have been grabbed by the well off of the retrogressive class, in this way leaving the weakest among the feeble and leaving the fortunate layers to devour the entire cake.

It was with regards to OBC reservations that the idea of a “creamy layer” had seen the light of the day. In the Mandal Commission case (1992), the Apex Court had requested the prohibition from the advantages of OBC reservation of those falling in the creamy layer. No “creamy layer” prohibition has up to this point been applicable for the SCs and STs. Therefore the Supreme Court’s accentuation on the exclusion of the “creamy layer” from SC/ST reservation has given another swing to the reservation debate. The issue is far too complicated for an either-or approach, there ought to be an inner separation inside the SC classification, as additionally the ST class.

Arguments for the Inclusion of Creamy Layer

The motivation behind reservation is to give chances to backward social groups to come at standard with different segments of the general public. Reservation for the SCs and STs has constitutionally tried to do the same and has succeeded to an extent.

The contention for the rejection of the “creamy layer” lays on the commencement of offering reservation to children of SCs and STs government officials, civil servants and academic scholars would be treacherous to non-SC/ST competitors. Besides, one could contend that reservation ought to be given in such a way as to institutionally encourage the strengthening of the poorest of poor people, and not confine the fruits to a certain, SC/ST elite class. Youngsters from elite Dalit families have had far superior access to quality training than those having a place with Dalit families who have not possessed the capacity to profit themselves of the advantages of reservation till now. This, combined with the restricted opportunities for government occupations, makes an undifferentiated SC/ST class problematic. For it tries to make a solid administration of “merit” among all SC/ST kids, notwithstanding the way that merit is social – relying upon one’s experience, tutoring, and so forth and not simply individual.

Arguments against the Inclusion of Creamy Layer

The issue with the above preface is that it neglects historicism itself as far as the strengthening of a social group, as different from people. The social dimension likewise should be dealt with as well. Indeed, our constrained common assets are equal for everyone. However, here ” EQUALITY” implies equal opportunities for two truly equal groups yet what we have now is one economically and socially propelled individual competing with individuals who lack assets, economically compelled and in the majority of the cases looked with extreme poverty and socially curbed battling to get by in this enormous world. Proposals that one ought to enhance the fundamental guidelines of the SC and ST and give them the training and influence them to contend on merit is welcome one yet sheer good judgment influences it to clear this isn’t a substitute for the State Affirmative Action. Indeed, even advanced nations like the USA have a constitutional government policy regarding minorities in society for periphery groups and racial minorities of their country. The categorisation of SC/ ST into creamy and non-rich layers is just stealthily looting the hard battled privileges of these groups. What is being contested here is that SC/ST as a social group can profit, and have profited, from the development of materially secure elites of SC/ST communities as well.

A solid case is the ascent of the Bahujan Samaj Party in Uttar Pradesh. As contended by Sudha Pai in “Dalit Assertion and the Unfinished Democratic Revolution”, the BSP development is a ‘development from above’, i.e., a development drove by a little group of Dalit elite of reservation recipients to obtain state control. Shaped in 1976, the late Kanshi Ram’s BAMCEF (Backward and Minority Communities Employees Federation) was an association of Dalit and lower caste government representatives to protect their group advantages. The DS-4 (Dalit Shoshit Samaj Sangharsh Samiti) came up in 1982 as the agitational wing of BAMCEF, and the BSP was conceived in 1984 as the political arm. Post-1995, the Dalit-Backward class cooperation has crumpled as the two groups are frequently fighting in the countryside, with the later, at any rate, the overwhelming ones among them, having significantly more assets and muscle power. Sudha Pai has demonstrated that the BSP’s MLAs in U.P. in the 1990s were “from the new generation of young, educated Dalits, who were new entrants in politics.”

In this way, reservations for the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe have played out the extra function of making their own administration; for instance, Dalit administration. The effect has been earth-shattering. Taking the instance of U.P., the most recent decade has seen Dalits procuring political office, which was in the Congress days gathered in the hands of Hindus, who at that point took the Dalits along as subordinate partners. Genuine strengthening, as likewise the ‘deepening of majority rule government’, lies in the exchange of agency. Political support cooperates between social groups, with a couple of caste being operators of progress and other insignificant beneficiaries, constituting just a fractional majority rule of the government. Dalit recipients of governmental policy regarding minorities in society have been the operators of the developing of Indian vote based system.

A Mutually Balanced Argument

Having contended in support of SC/ST communities especially taking the instances of Dalit elites as an agent of democratic change it should be remembered that the function of the state should provide the provision of equality not only among diverse caste groups but also within each of them. The approach should be with the end goal that it strikes a harmony between-group empowerment and equity to the person. One would do well to recall Mahatma Gandhi’s accentuation on ‘Antyodaya’ (welfare of the last man).

The balance can be best struck through a separation inside the SC, as likewise the ST, classification. From among the 15 percent seats held for the SCs and STs, for example, a specific extent ought to be open in an undifferentiated way for all SC/ST competitors, while the remaining ought to have “creamy layer” exclusion. Moreover, reservations for SCs and STs should be omitted regarding promotional aspects after getting a job, for example, a person belonging to the general class after getting a job the eligibility for promotion say maybe 10 years while for SCs and STs it may be 6 years or so. Therefore strike balance reservations for SCs/STs should be there till they get a job but after that, it should be upon their performance, the better they perform the sooner they can get into higher-level positions. Also, there should be two unrelated classes inside the more extensive SC classification, one just for “creamy layer” SCs/STs and the other just for non-rich layer SCs/STs. This would prompt strengthening at lower levels among SCs/STs.


While a monolithic SC/ST reservation – as it exists now – may keep the advantages from coming to the poorer SCs/STs, like in Northeast India where Influential people belonging to SC/ST groups have done very little for their community even after getting such high-level political positions, an unqualified exclusion of the “rich layer” from SC/ST reservation may turn around the procedure of the development of group leadership as a vehicle for political organization.


  1. Scourge of reservation: Anish Gupta and Aaleya Giri: Published,12 September 2015.
  2. creamy layer in SC/ST – A way forward: Rajani Bahurajan: Published, 4 September 2015
  3. no creamy layer for SC and ST: Published, June 17, 2011
  4. Times of India. can’t keep SC/ST creamy layer out of quota benefits: Amit Anand Choudhary: Published, April 14, 2015

1 Comment »

  1. Well define points of justification by the author . But, in reality it’s a never ending debate going on over the years. Hope the situation improves and the right person gets the benefit out of it.

    Liked by 1 person

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