The Backward Classes Bureau
What they do: Provide welfare services for and represent the interests of poor Indians. Approximately 50 percent of the world's second most populous country are members of "backward classes," a rather blunt designation for lower-caste Hindus and other disadvantaged religious and ethnic communities.
The National Commission for Backward Classes (a separate body from the bureau) maintains an extensive list of criteria for what are known as "other backward classes" (OBCs) -- meaning that, frequently, new groups gain or old groups lose the designation.
A key indicator of backwardness is the type of job generally held by members of the given caste/class. Generally, Indians involved in agriculture or traditional craft making, with little parliamentary representation, or of low education or economic status, qualify for OBC designation.
The practice of having an agency for backward-class affairs was written into the 1949 Indian Constitution, and the first commission was created in 1953. In India's 28 states, there are literally hundreds of groups that are classified as OBCs. Backward classes are reserved 27 percent of university placements, an extremely valuable commodity in modern India. Few will disagree with the principles behind the work the bureau is performing, but a name change is definitely in order.