The Rajya Sabha passed the constitutional amendment bill that seeks reservation of up to 10 percent in government jobs and across educational institutions for economically backward citizens of India this week, a day after the Lok Sabha passed it almost unanimously. The bill is yet to undergo judicial scrutiny and there has been speculation that it will have to face hurdles as it violates the rule of maintaining only 50% reservation at all times but there are some fine details that have been missed out.
Reservations have been a much talked about topic ever since it came into existence. Earlier it was considered essential as people were more culturally inclined and believed in concepts of untouchability and also the rigid caste system which prevailed at that time.
Although this system yet prevails it is not so rigid anymore. There has been sufficient upgradation of the SC, ST, OBC communities. The social acceptance maybe questionable but the representation (which was the initial concern) has been achieved, in my view.
The oppression of centuries cannot be compensated in a matter of decades, though our government has tried it’s best to establish equal status for equal people.
The earlier reservation system had no concern with economic backwardness which is an issue. Lack of resources and access was the major concern for which the reservation system emerged.
The new system however allows the economically backward persons, born in a caste which is not backward and does not come under minority communities, to have access to resources like any other person from a financially strong background.
This is good for starters but as we dig in deep towards the bottom of this iceberg we notice some loopholes which deviate the new system from it’s soul purpose of ‘provisions for the deprived’.
For instance, the criteria for a person to be eligible for such benefit through reservation is that the annual income of his family should be less than 8 lakh rupees per annum and the area of his household should be less than 1000 SQ feet. The prescribed annual income is too much and also ownership of less than 1000 SQ ft of apartment area does not make anyone economically backward!
The new provision does not speak about the number of family members between whom the income and property is divided. The criteria for the economically backward class has to be kept flexible. Though it contains the word ‘economic’, money and property cannot be the only criterion.
For example, a family of 3 members whose collective annual income is rupees 7 lakh, living in an apartment with area 800 SQ feet cannot be termed to be economically backward as their possessions are enough for 3 people to have a dignified and healthy existence without deprivation.
On the other if we consider a family of 12 people living in the same conditions, with the same income and same household area, same may not be true for them. They will have to compromise and be deprived as there are more people sharing the amount of wealth.
Hence, due to this criteria a lot of people come under the gamete of economically backward class out of which huge number is not economically deprived and does not need the extra push to at power with the others.
Reservation scheme is devised for the persons who are deprived and oppressed and will only have effect when the actual benefit reaches to such persons only and not to those who have been ‘termed’ as economically backward due to a vague set of rules.