ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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A Janus-faced Quota

The 10% quota for higher-caste EWSs discredits the moral foundation of the principle of social justice.


The legislation granting a 10% quota in employment and education for higher-caste aspirants from the economically weaker sections (EWSs) was passed in both houses of Parliament. This swift move on the part of the central government is within the compelling context of the forthcoming 2019 Lok Sabha general election, which is why most of the parties found it politically inconvenient to oppose it. Although, some of them did express their reservations about the way in which the legislation was introduced in Parliament. They opposed it on the grounds that the government in power at the centre did not give enough time for discussion on it before it was tabled in Parliament for its final approval. Similarly, an objection was also raised about the procedure that the government adopted in order to fix the criteria for educational and economic backwardness. How has the government arrived at the figure of 10%, without any proper and thorough documentation by a duly constituted commission? Although the legislation suffers from these problems and is awaiting clearance from the apex court, the 10% quota may, at this point in time, deserve some reflection on the possible gains that might flow from such a legislation.

If the Court assents to the legislation and it is implemented by the government, it is expected to help the needy among the higher castes. In some cases, it is also expected to eliminate the desperation of those who, in the past, would resort to obtaining fake Scheduled Caste (SC) and Scheduled Tribe (ST) certificates that were used to seek entry into professional courses
under the SC/ST quota. The legislation is also expected to keep savarna-caste aspirants from seeking adoption into SC/ST families in order to procure SC/ST certificates. Such a legislation would help them not resort to such deceptive self-characterisation. Ironically, the 10% quota can help these savarnas retain their authentic caste identity. In this way, they can now avoid facing humiliation in courts of law on account of being exposed as fake caste certificate holders. The 10% quota is expected to reinforce the urge among the higher castes to be a part of the reservation fraternity, along with the SCs, STs, and Other Backward Classes (OBCs).

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Updated On : 29th Jan, 2019
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