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Modi’s 10% quota masterstroke

In what could be described as an ‘elections masterstroke’, the Modi government has agreed to provide a 10% reservation in education and jobs for the economically weaker sections (EWS) among “general” category.

This quota will be in addition to the existing 50% reservation available in government jobs and educational institutions for back classes (the Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and the Other Backward Classes) – thus the total quota will now be 60% once the necessary amendment is made to the Indian constitution’s Articles 15 and 16. Currently, the constitution does not allow reservation on the basis of economic conditions.

So who will benefit from the new 10% quota?

It is expected to help people with an annual family income of Rs 8 lakh or less. While calculating the family income, all members of the family – the beneficiary, their parents and siblings below 18 years, and spouse and children below 18 years.

Who are not eligible for the quota

  • People who own houses bigger than 1,000 square foot.
  • Residents with annual family income exceeding Rs 8 lakh.
  • Those who own agricultural land above five acres.

The ruling BJP government is only a few weeks away from national elections, and this quota is expected to win the support of the general category of voters or the “upper caste” as many leading media reports have described the beneficiaries.

The NDA government kept the bill highly confidential, with only a handful of ministers aware of what was cooking, even as a bunch of bureaucrats burnt midnight’s oil to get the draft ready.

“Yes, in principle, quotas are wrong! But if they have to be provided then this probably is the best way to offer them,” says Auckland-based Prashant Belwalkar, who welcomes the new quota. “It is laughable when you hear Tejaswi Yadav saying the idea of the reservation was not to eliminate poverty but to remove the years of neglect of the lower caste! Then use the law which forbids discrimination on grounds of religion, caste, creed! Why have a reservation; if getting acceptance as an equal human being is all that was needed, then giving reservation was not going to solve it! Lets dump reservation then!”

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