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A critical analysis of 10 Percent reservation quota to economic weaker section (EWS) in General category

Recently Parliament passes a bill to provide 10 percent reservation to EWS (Economically weaker section) in general category

Nowadays a discussion between youth is so popular that reservation should get abolished because it sounds discriminatory in nature to them and peoples from general category background feel suffered due to this. The majority of them feels that reservation should be Income based.

Let first understand what is the reservation system in India & why India needed the same.

Current Reservation system in India:

The system of reservation in India consists of a series of measures, such as reserving access to seats in the various legislatures, to government jobs, and to enrolment in higher educational institutions etc.

The reservation system nourishes the historically disadvantaged castes and tribes, listed as Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (SCs and STs) by the Government of India and also those designated as Other Backwards Classes (OBCs). The reservation is undertaken to address the historic oppression, inequality, and discrimination faced by those communities and to give these communities a place. It is intended to realize the promise of equality enshrined in the Constitution.

The primary objective of the reservation system in India is to enhance the social and educational status of underprivileged communities and thus improve their lives. The government of India believed that it was important to give benefits to people who have been historically denied access to social and economic resources so that they have a chance to establish a livelihood.

The cost of these benefits would be paid by all taxpayers of India and international funding agencies such as World Bank, IMF and Asia development bank.

The intention of Government was very holistic & admirable that point of time as in India untouchability & cast based discrimination to a certain community was very high. But the situation is very much improving now but is it mean that we do not require the Reservation system or it should get abolished? well, the answer is big “NO”.  because there are still several communities or some areas where they are still facing the same sort of problems like cast based discrimination & untouchability issues.

Following are major reason why peoples oppose the current reservation system.

They say that people with merit will lose out.
The reservation is the nightmare of meritorious or general category students as we are in the era of a skill-based economy, there lose merit relates to loss of skills.
Here are some fact that SC, ST, OBC population in India is 16.6%, 8.2%, 41% respectively, and there exists a 4.5% sub-quota for minorities.
On the other hand, reservations provided to members of the SC, ST, OBC categories is 15%, 7%, 27% respectively.
They comprise 70% (approx) of the total population, and only 20-30 % of the SCs and STs pursue higher education. Clearly, there exists a great divide between the two. Also, students who have applied through reservations cannot take an unreserved seat, even if they are qualifying for it. Which simply means there were no sheets left for the General category class students.

People argue that the social condition have been gotten batter
Yes true but not fully true. There  Many cases in rural areas where untouchability is still in practice be it a sacred place or a basic necessity like getting water from the common well of the village are still reported. Some might say that these are only prevalent in rural and backward areas, but even the urban educated, elite people are not behind in such practices. Remember the infamous case of a high court judge who purified his chamber by gangajal because a Dalit judge sat on that chamber before him?

Yes it is 68 year since constitution came in force but the fact remains intact – there has been inequality in India and it will always be due to a small chunk of the society who has enjoyed caste supremacy in the past. And the underprivileged are still vulnerable as they are not able to use the benefits which have been given to them. So why not protect the basic rights of the underprivileged? Even I major case richer section of underprivileged communities are getting benefits, not the poorer one.

But the question is what the only a particular community or Tribe or cast based system is enough to resolve the problem of Inequality.  Well, the answer is “NO”. The majority of us feel that there should be Income based reservation required as well.
We all feel that there should be modification required in the current reservation system so that benefits should be given to the economically weaker section people also irrespective to their cast or community from which they belong.

And so does our Honourable prime minister understand the today’s need of amendment in reservation system & they came up with amendment Bill for same.

The Indian Parliament passed the Constitution 124th (Amendment) Bill, 2019 that seeks to provide 10 percent reservation in jobs and educational institutions to economically backward section in the general category with the Rajya Sabha approving it on January 9, 2019.
The legislation was passed in the upper house of the Parliament with 165 members voting in favor of it and seven voting against. The motion moved by AIADMK, left parties and others to refer the bill to the Select Committee was also defeated.
The Lok Sabha had already given its approval to the bill with over two-thirds of the majority, with 323 members voting in favour and three voting against. Prior to this, the Union Cabinet on January 7, 2019, had approved a proposal for the introduction of the bill. The bill extends 10 percent quota to the economically weaker sections in the general category who are not covered by any of the existing schemes of reservation

Some Important Note
The Constitution (124th Amendment) Bill 2019 is designed to amend the Constitution to extend 10 percent reservation in direct recruitment in government jobs and for admission in higher educational institutions to “economically weaker” sections among all castes and communities, Christians and Muslims included, who are not eligible under the existing quotas.
The 10 percent reservation will be in addition to the existing cap of 50 percent reservation for the Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, and the Other Backward Classes, taking the total reservation to 60 percent. The quota targets the poor among the upper castes.
This will be over and above 50 percent mandated by Constitution and hence the need for Constitution amendment Bill.
According to sources, new clauses would be added to Articles 15 and 16 of the Constitution which presently allow the State to make a reservation for only Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, and for socially or educationally backward classes (Other Backward Classes or OBCs).

Who will be covered under new 10 percent quota?

The proposed amendment Bill will define Economically Weaker Section (EWS) as one having:
1. Annual household income below Rs 8 lakh
2. Agriculture land below 5 acres
3. The residential house below 1000 sqft
4. The residential plot below 100 yards in a notified municipality
5. The residential plot below 200 yards in the non-notified municipality area

Present Quota
The existing quota sums up to about 49.5 percent, which includes:
- 7.5 percent for Scheduled Castes
15 percent for Scheduled Tribes
- 27 percent for Socially and Educationally Backward Classes (including widows and orphans of any caste)

What happens now?

An amendment of the Constitution can only be initiated when the bill is passed in both houses of the parliament by a majority of the total membership of the House and by a special majority of not less than two-thirds of the members present and voting.

Since the bill has been passed by both houses of the Parliament with the required majority, it will now be presented to the President who shall give his assent to the Bill.

If the amendment seeks to make any change in any of the provisions mentioned in the proviso to article 368, it must be ratified by the Legislatures of not less than one-half of the States.

Although there is no prescribed time limit for ratification, it must be completed before the amending Bill is presented to the President for his assent.

Consequence of the Measure

The move has come just ahead of the Lok Sabha elections this year. The consequence of the measure will be limited to central agencies, but the government hopes that it will create an “enabling atmosphere” for the state governments to attempt replication.

The change, if it goes through Parliament, will take the quantum of quotas to 59.5 per cent, which many argue will mark a violation of the 50 per cent cap mandated by the Supreme Court in the Indira Sawhney case.

Present quota identical to one defining creamy layer among OBCs?

The proposed criteria for adjudging who is “economically weak” is identical to the one applied for defining “creamy layer” among the OBCs who are debarred from quota benefits.

The measure, which was criticised as “excessively liberal” when enforced for defining who constituted the “creamy layer” among the OBCs, will mean that almost the entire population, except the rich who number around just above a crore or so, cutting across communities, becomes eligible for quotas.

House session to be extended by a day?

Both the houses of the Parliament are set to be adjourned on January 8, however, an additional day is being arranged for the Upper House to help it clear the legislation.

We assumed that Bill get enacted & it will help address the present issue of inequality in India & better serve the purpose Article 17 of our constitution. 

Parveen Pal
write me at : PARVEENPAL285@gmail.com

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