Authored by:

M. Mukesh – Research Intern, Legit by Internationalism.

1.17th ASEAN India Economic Ministers Consultation Held

The Minister of Commerce and industry and Railways, Mr Piyush Goyal and the Minister of Industry & Trade of Vietnam Tran Tuan And co-chaired the 17th Association of Southeast Asian Nation (ASEAN) Indian economic ministers consultations on Saturday which was held virtually on 29th August 2020. In this virtual meeting which was attended by the trade Ministers of all the 10 ASEAN countries including Brunei Cambodia Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Vietnam, Myanmar Philippines, Thailand and Singapore, they reaffirmed their commitment to take collective actions mitigating the economic impact of the pandemic on the industrial sector by resolving to ensure the Macroeconomic and financial stability and for the quicker and faster resilience of supply chain and in particular focus on the unimpeded flow of essential goods and medicines in the countries in compliance with the rules of World Trade Organisation.

The discussions of the Ministers were centred on the review of the ASEAN India Trade in Goods Agreement (AITIGA), while they also encouraged the growing trade ties and increasing economic engagement between the two parties. The AIBC (ASEAN Indian Business Council) report recommended for the AITIGA to be reviewed for attaining mutual benefits. The senior officials were instructed to start the discussion to determine the scope of the review, the earliest possible, inter-area to make the trade free agreement more user friendly, simple and highly trade facilitative for business by the Ministers shared in the meeting. Piyush Goyal highlighted that the agreement must be beneficial mutually and to have a win to win for all sides and should be one that guides to work for the removal of non-tariff barriers for the provision of better market access. Minister Piyush Goyal also stated that the strongly tied and historical, cultural and traditional bonds and this relationship will continue for the growth and prosperity of the people of India and the ASEAN countries.

2.Sub-Categorization of OBC

The OBCs are granted 27 % of reservation in jobs and educational institutions of the Central Government. The necessity of sub-categorization arises out of an observation that only a few among the 2,600 communities included in the central list are being able to secure a reservation through this. To ensure equitable distribution of opportunities, a Commission to examine the sub-categorization took charge on October 11, 2017, which was chaired by retired Delhi High Court Chief Justice Rohini and the two other ex-officio members with the government spending of Rupees 1.70 Crore till 2019.

The objectives of this Commission are to examine the extent of inequitable distribution of benefits accrued through prescribed reservation among the communities categorized as OBC, to the excising of identification and classification of communities with a scientific approach. An extension was sought on July 30th, 2019, with a recommendation of any repetition, ambiguities, errors and inconsistencies to be resolved and with a letter to the Central Government that the final draft report is ready and that could have huge political consequences and the likely to face a Judicial review and the tenure of the commission ends on January 31st, 2021.

The Commission noted in 2013, that 25 % of all sub-castes classified as OBC were able to secure all jobs and seats totally of 97 % among which 24.9 5% of the Jobs have gone to 10 OBC communities with 0% representation of 983 communities which forms 37% of the total. As per the annual report of the Department of Personnel and Training, OBCs represent 13.01 percent in group A, 14.7 8% in group B, 22.65 % in Group C and 14.4 6% in Group D (Safai Karmchari). The huddle faced by the Commission is in the absence of data of the population for the enumeration of subcategories of the other backward caste. The Commission on the 12th of December 2018, wrote to the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment with the request of budgetary allocation for the proposed all India survey of estimation of caste wise population of OBSs, but later reversed that it has not decided to undertake the survey. Home Minister Rajnath Singh suggested the work can be done along with the census 2021.

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