AIR Debate – Quota for economically weaker sections in Gujarat
Gujarat government on Friday announced a new 10% quota in jobs and college admissions for the economically backward among upper castes, in an attempt to defuse the agitation by the Patidar community.
It assumes significance because members of the Patidar, or Patel, community in Gujarat, who have traditionally voted for the BJP, have been demanding other backward class (OBC) status to avail of government jobs and secure admission to colleges.
The constitution of India does not allow any reservation based on economic criteria. It is only the social and educational backwardness that counts while allotting the reservation. However on the other side of the coin there are economically weaker sections in the so called upper caste society who are not able to get the benefits of the government due to their financial conditions. It is in this move that the Gujarat government has responded to the agitations by giving them a fair shot in the developmental process.
Perhaps there is problem with the Gujarat governments move to allot fresh reservations. In 1992, the Supreme Court set a ceiling of 50% for all types of reservation while ruling that the Mandal Commission’s recommendation giving reservations to OBCs was constitutionally valid. The new 10% quota will take the state past the 50% reservation limit set by the Supreme Court. However government is ready to defend its move and further judgements on this regard from the courts should be awaited.
Some argue the move to allot fresh reservation is a political stunt as the assembly elections in Gujarat are round the corner. However framing a policy to appease a population for mere votes is definitely a bad precedent. There is a need to evolve over the reservation thing so that permanent seal of caste which is attached with the beneficiary be slowly removed and let him to join the main stream society without any glitches. Allotting reservation for political gains is not just good for the country but against the socialist principles enshrined in our constitution.
The issue of reservation is a complex topic that is debated since its inception. There is a need to find new innovative avenues other than reservation to address the burgeoning issues like jobs, skill development, education etc. The new schemes like make in India, Digital India, and Skill India is one step in this direction. But there will be no success if these programmes fail to deliver what they are expected. The principle of Social justice which forms the core principle of our judicial system should not be disturbed by undue forces that tweak policies to distort the core values of our constitution.