General Category : Meaning, Reservation, Advantage, Challenges

What is the General Category?

The General Caste is defined by the Indian government as any caste that does not fall under the categories of SC, ST, OBC or any other disadvantaged community. They have advanced socially, economically, and academically.

The people who belong to this category are also referred to as the Forward Caste or Open Category.

What is reservation and Why?

The Chairman of the Constitutional Drafting Committee, Dr. Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar, and other members of the committee came up with the reservation policy. The goal was to give reservations as a form of affirmative action to help disadvantaged groups catch up to the rest of society.

Under the Constitution of India, the reservation policy was put in place as a temporary measure for 10 years.

With the introduction of reservation, the main goal was to correct historical injustices, provide equal opportunities for all, and ensure adequate representation for all. To ensure equality for all, the caste system and other forms of discrimination must be abolished completely in order to reduce the disparity between people in the country.

One particular caste can belong to the general category in one state whereas it can be considered as a minority in another.

For example: Jaats belong to the General category in Haryana whereas they are considered as a minority in Punjab.

According to official statistics, Indians are divided into four broad categories: 

  • Scheduled castes (SC)
  • Scheduled tribes (ST)
  • Other Backward Classes (OBC)
  • General Category (GC)

Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, and Forward Caste are all included in the list of reservation groups that qualify for reservation benefits. They can get benefits like set quotas for education, special government programmes, government jobs, and political representation, among other things. The lists of general, Other Backward class, Scheduled Castes, and Scheduled Tribes are made regardless of religion. The lists are subject to change from time to time due to social, educational, and economic factors. Some backward castes are trying to get OBC quota.

According to the 2011 census report, India had a population of 121 billion people.

Twenty percent of India’s population belongs to the Schedule castes. This means that around 24.2 billion Indians belong to the SC group. There is a 15 percent reservation for them in the government sector.

9 percent of India’s population comprises Scheduled Tribes. This means the population is close to 10,89 billion. They are granted a 7.5% reserve in the government sector.

Other backward Caste accounts up 41 percent of the total population. This results in a population of almost 49.61 billion people. There is a 27 percent reservation for them in the government sector.

The remaining 30% of the population falls under the so-called General Category. This means that around 36,300,000,000 Indians fall within this category.

Percentage of reservation 

SCs and STs get 15% and 7.5% of the positions in central government services, respectively. OBCs get 27% of the positions. The same percentage applies to seats in schools run by the central government.

With the latest Constitutional Amendment Bill’s addition of 10% for EWS, the percentage of reservations in central government services and schools will now be around 59.5 percent.

The percentage of reservations for SCs, STs, and OBCs in services and schools at the state level varies from state to state based on the demographics. In Arunachal Pradesh, for example, 45 percent of the reservations are for STs, 1 percent are for SCs, and there are no OBC reservations because there are no OBC people in the state. Most of the northeastern states have higher rates of reservations under STs. Himachal Pradesh and Punjab are two of the states with relatively higher reservations for SCs, with 25 and 29 percent, respectively.


Reservation Category Reservation Quota (%)
ST 7.5
SC 15
OBC 27
EWS 10

Is category certificate required for General Category?

A Category Certificate is proof that a person is part of a certain Caste, especially if they are part of one of the “Scheduled Castes and Tribes” listed in the Indian Constitution.

A different category such as Only SC/ST/OBC/GEN-EWS candidates need a certificate, and it is not required  for the General category.

There is a widespread problem in India where the general category of people do not have equal representation in the government or government-run organisations. This includes jobs with the government, in the courts, schools, and other places. For example, only 40% of UPSC’s seats are open to people who don’t have a reservation.

Where almost 30% of the people in the General Category can’t read or write. There are also a large number of forward caste people who live below the poverty line.

There is a growing call for the establishment of a separate reservation for the poor in the general category.

There are more forward caste people in many states. For example, Himachal Pradesh, Haryana, Assam, and Goa. This means that the number of seats or opportunities obtained by members of the forward caste is not proportional to their population.

10% reservation in General Category

The Union Cabinet has approved a 10% reservation in jobs and educational institutions for economically weaker Section(EWS) general category candidates. Read a complete Guide for EWS Category here to know how you get benefit of this.

Criteria for eligibility as an EWS:

1) Annual income of less than Rs 8 lakh

2) Agricultural land less than five acres

3) Residential space under one thousand square feet

4) Residential lot under 109 yards in a municipality that has been notified

5) Residential property less than 209 yards in an unnotified municipality

Castes included in General Category

Some of the castes included in general category are as follows:

North India region General Castes in UP General Castes in Bihar General Castes in Rajasthan General Castes in Uttarakhand General Castes in Punjab General Castes in Karnataka
Brahmins Brahmin Brahmin Brahmins Rajput Jaat Sikh vokkaligas
Baniyas Thakur Rajput Rajputs Brahmin Brahmins lingayats
Rajputs Vaishya Bhumikar Vaishyas Rajputs bunts
Kayasthas Tyagi and Bhumikar Kayastha Banias Nair
Khatris/ Aroras Muslims Muslims- Pathans, Mughals, Shikhs, Sayyads Punjabi Khatris
Christians Aroras/ Soods


General Castes in West Bengal General Castes in Jharkhand General Castes in Gujarat General Castes in Odisha General Castes in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana General Castes in Tamil Nadu
Brahmins Brahmins Patidar/Patel Kayastha Reddy Iyengar Mukkulathor
Kayasthas Rajputs Brahmins Brahmins Kamma Iyer Sengunthar
Baidya Bhumihar Rajputs Kshatriyas Kappu Vellalars Parkavakulam
Kayasthas Gomati Baniya Nair Nagarathar / nagaram baniya
Muslims Velamma Naidu Komati
Kshatriya Raju Brahmin kamma

Advantages of General Category 

Highest number of vacancies

When the reservation matrix is taken into account, 27 percent goes to OBC, 15 percent to SC, and 7.5 percent to ST. EWS now has a 10 percent reservation as well. About 60% of the seats are taken by people who have reserved them. This leaves General Category students with 40% of the seats, which is the highest percentage of seats for any category. But the number of candidates in the General Category is usually higher, so the cutoffs are also higher.

No Discrimination

Discrimination is not a problem for the general population. As compared to the other categories in the country general category people are subjected to less discrimination as they are considered superior socially.

High Esteem and status in society

The general category people are considered and treated better economically, socially and academically in all the sectors of society. They never experience any form of caste-based discrimination, such as being made fun of using caste names or being forcibly segregated in seating by school teachers, and they have to pass through hostile caste ghettos in order to get to schools.

Disadvantages of General Category:

High Competition

General Category students with 40% of the seats, which is the highest percentage of seats for any category. But the number of candidates in the General Category is usually higher, so the cutoffs are also higher.

Firstly, the marks required for a general category student are way higher than a reserved category student and the number of students applying from general category is much higher in proportion to the seats available for them.

Like the cut off marks for Student’s belongs to General Category is higher then the other categories students in UPSC CSE exam. which you can check in the following image. Cut off marks for General Category in UPSC exam is approx 950-1000 marks in the Final.

Increasing stress and unmotivated students

Anxiety and depression are more common among students from non-privileged backgrounds just before a test because of the unfair competition they face during the application process. This is due to their persistent anxiety over losing marks and hence decreasing their chances of passing the exam.

Limited Attempts

Students who are enrolled in the General Category are allotted a set number of attempts on government exams for jobs and academic programmes. People who are subjected to this experience feelings of inferiority, which in turn demotivates them.

For Example Students from General category can only give maximum 6 attempts between age of 21 to 32 years in the UPSC CSE Exam which is india’s biggest and toughest Exam.

Subjected to Unfair competition

Meritocracy’s greatest enemy is a reservation system. It is because of the reservation in the education sector. The lack of fair competition among students is a violation of both the educational code of conduct and the right to an equitable education, which is why educational reservations offer more relaxed entry criteria. 

Challenges faced by General Category 

  • Students in the “reservation category” are entitled to certain privileges simply by virtue of their ethnicity, and as a result, they become dependent on them, making it difficult for them to do their best work. While a student in the general category can’t sleep over semesters and interviews for good jobs on campus.
  • A student from a general caste has to deal with unfair competition, even though we know what will happen to our society if an engineer who only got 50% builds a bridge in the future.
  • Students from the general caste are more likely to have anxiety and depression right before an exam.
  • A student in the general category can’t be average because he’ll have to settle for less, but a student in the reservation category can always get away with being average.
  • The country as a whole is still poor, and only a few people have a lot of economic power. Also, it makes no sense to make reservations for 10 percent of the population based on rules that apply to 90 percent of the population.

Difference between Unreserved(UR) and EWS Category

There is no distinction between unreserved candidates and EWS candidates because both fall into the General category.

The only difference between UR Category &  EWS category is that the people who have an income less than 8 lakhs per annum and satisfy the following conditions are considered under the category of Economically Weaker Section of the society. The conditions necessary to be fulfilled are:

  • Annual family income should be less than Rs. 8 lakh. An annual income of more than Rs. 8 lakh cannot be considered economically weak, and thus does not fall under the economically weaker category (EWS)
  • They should not be availing any reservation benefit available to SC/ST/OBC category
  • The family should not own agricultural land larger than 5 acres and residential plot more than 100 yards

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQs)

1. Can a person from an OBC group use the general category?

Ans: No. An OBC candidate will only be considered for an OBC job if he or she has a valid OBC certificate. But these OBC candidates can always apply for the unreserved positions if they meet the requirements for the General category.

2. Which is better, OBC or general?

Ans: Socially and academically, OBC are behind the General category. So, from a social point of view, the General caste in India is more respected and accepted than the OBC caste.

3. What’s another word for “general category”?

Ans: Forward Caste

Forward caste, also called General Class, General Category, or Open Category, is a term used in India to describe a caste system whose members are, on average, more successful socially and economically than other Indians.

4. How many Indians fall into the “general category”?

Ans: Estimates say that 20% of the Indian population is part of the Scheduled Caste, 9% is part of the Scheduled Tribe, and 41% is part of the Other Backward Classes. This means that about 70% of the population falls into a category that is currently reserved, while 30% falls into the general category.

5. Who can apply in the general category?

Ans: The Supreme Court has said that anyone can apply for public jobs in the general category, even if they belong to a reserved group like the other backward classes, scheduled castes, or scheduled tribes (STs).

6. What is the difference between EWS and General Category?

Ans: The EWS is for “General” class people whose family income is less than Rs. 8 lakhs and who are not in the OBC, SC, or ST groups. There are 10 percent of seats set aside for them. EWS candidates will have their own (lower) cut-off, just like OBC, SC, and ST candidates will have their own (lower) cut-off.

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