The Naveen Patnaik government has proposed to sanction 100 hostels with an accommodation capacity for 10,000 OBC as well as SEBC students to access higher education in 14 major urban educational hubs of the state.
Making this announcement in his speech on the first day of the Budget session in Odisha Assembly, Governor Ganeshi Lal said his government has adopted a holistic and integrated approach for development of scheduled castes, scheduled tribes, other backward castes and minorities with special focus on social, economic, education, health and livelihood sectors.
Officials of State SC/ST and Backward class department said the hostels will house 5,000 boys and girls each drawn from higher secondary students belonging to the other backward classes and socially and educationally backward classes. Students from the OBC and SEBC communities with income of parents less than Rs 1 lakh per annum would be eligible for hostel accommodation. Each of the hostels would have 100 seats. “These hostels will be opened in 14 major educational centres of the state including Bhubaneswar at an outlay of Rs 185 crore.
The announcement came days after the State government announced setting up of an OBC Commission under the chairmanship of a former judge of Orissa High Court. The commission would examine requests of inclusion of any backward caste in the OBC list and recommend suitable reservation for them in government jobs as well as educational institutions.
The State government last month requested the Centre to do a separate census of OBC and SEBC people along with the general census next year. The State government said the census of OBCs would enable it to accelerate the pace of development of these communities leading to inclusive growth with greater momentum. “As we are commemorating the 150th Anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi’s birthday, this will be a fitting tribute to his idea of India guided by his talisman in which the welfare of the poorest and the weakest becomes the core objective of the State,” the State government said in its resolution. However, the ministry of home affairs turned down the request.
Analysts say the push for hostels for OBC students and separate census is a concerted attempt to harvest the votes of numerically superior community in the State. As per a conservative estimate, at least 54 per cent of the population in Odisha belong to OBC.