TODAY -

Unending quota system & National excellence

Free Thinker *



A few days ago, the Apex Court did uphold the 10% reservation for the Economically Weaker Section (EWS); it finally endorsed the idea of giving reservations on economic criteria. Irrespective of caste, creed or sex, all and sundry will get the benefit of this reservation if they are included in the economically weaker section of the General Category.

Reservation based on economic yardsticks is perhaps more realistic and relevant today. The 103rd Constitution Amendment Act that provides 10% reservation for economically weaker sections has now got judicial legitimacy.

However, the contention between the minority and majority judgements on the issue of breaching the 50% reservation quota will be a ground for future judicial and legislative battles. The majority judgement is of the view that the 50 per cent cap is only for the existing reservation system and economic criteria are an entirely new yardstick adopted by the legislature. It is a new policy.

As a matter of fact, reservation policies create more division in society than making us more united or integrated. In the name of solving some problems perhaps we are creating more complex problems. Division in the name of caste, tribe, class or economic backwardness for the sake of reservation is not in favour of a cohesive society or a nation.

In this 10 per cent EWC quota, the economically weaker section of other categories is excluded, because they have already got the respective share of the pie. The exclusion seems prudent considering the already disturbing mindset of the unreserved category.

The General category has now the pleasure and impression that they have now at least 10 per cent. In fact, they have already 50.5 per cent in their kitty. The only difference is that the economically weaker section of the General category will get the benefit of this 10 per cent.

But the issue is whether the 8 lac income ceiling of a family makes sense in terms of extending succour to the actually deprived upper caste poor. If we really want to help the actual needy we must bring it down further it must be much less than 8 lac.

The OBC reservation is also meant for the economically weaker sections other than SC/ST this is another argument. The present 10 % quota variant is for the upper caste/class; here OBC creamy layer should also be included.

The creamy layer of OBC is just like the general category; they must also get the opportunity to get this EWS reservation. The economic ceiling for OBC creamy layer and General category may be worked out realistically considering the ground realities and the national per capita income of a family of five members.

Looking from a different angle, still, 50 % of the jobs or services are with the affluent general category people. Their population is less than 15 per cent of the total. Arithmetically the unreserved people are still holding the major share of the pie.

A strong argument against this 10 per cent reservation of economically weaker sections of the General category is that they (upper caste) constitute less percentage of the population but they have a dominant share in jobs and services. This is an obvious statistic but it is also a fact that SC/ST/OBC which constitutes the majority population of the country have a share of only 49.5 per cent of the total pie.

But one must understand that 49.5 % is not the limit or cap; if OBC/SC/ST candidates are still allowed to compete in the unreserved seats for all practical purposes. If they are in the general category successful list by virtue of their merit they are not going to consume their own quota. In other words, meritorious SC/ST/OBC candidates can compete in the so-called General category quota.

EWS reservation is countered on the ground that using economic criteria alone for reservation violates the spirit of the Constitution. This contention may be Constitutionally sound but realistically fragile. The policies for the upliftment of the poor ought to be beyond Caste, Tribe, OBC or General. In fact, the larger goal is to achieve economic justice for all. A begging Brahmin is as good as a begging SC or ST or OBC.

The Constitution Amendment which provides reservations in jobs and educational institutions for people belonging to economically deprived sections of society is upheld by the Apex Court. Consequently, now there will be two broad categories of reservation one based on caste and social backwardness and the other based on economic yardstick and gravity of poverty. This is again a landmark step in our unending journey of reservation.

We all want our country to emerge as a developed nation by 2047 and we also aspire to become a global superpower. Reservation goes against the spirit of human excellence and unfettered progress. With this increasing baggage of reservation, can we really excel in this cut-throat competitive world? We are still optimistic.

But, can we seriously ponder over and review the entire reservation policy, as hinted at by the RSS Chief sometime back? Is reservation still good for the nation or not? (Above Politics).


* Free Thinker wrote this article for The Sangai Express
This article was webcasted on November 18 2022 .



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