lunes, 28 de enero de 2019

Whose quota is it anyway? | The Indian Express

Whose quota is it anyway? | The Indian Express

Whose quota is it anyway?

Eligibility criteria for reservation for economically weaker sections will enable the well-off to corner benefits

EWS quota, ews quota jobs, 10 percent quota, ews 10 percent quota, ews quota jobs, ews general category quota, indian express, latest news
SCs, STs and OBCs account for 70 per cent of the population and are entitled to 49.5 per cent reservation in the government sector. (Illustration by C R Sasikumar)
Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, while defending the Constitution (124th Amendment) Bill, 2019 that provides 10 per cent reservation in jobs and education to the economically weaker sections (EWS) in the general category, announced on the floor of Parliament that “sixes are hit in the slog overs” of a cricket match. “More sixes will come,” he asserted. Indeed, sixes are, and will be, hit by the batting side, both at the Centre and the states. The governments of Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh, for example, announced loan waiver schemes within a week of assuming office without analysing how the benefits would reach the vulnerable sections of the farming community or giving a serious thought to the impact these measures would have on agriculture in the long run.
An easy defence of such measures is that non-conventional shots are played in the slog overs as there is no time for rational calculation. The argument could well be, “Let’s first win the battle for Delhi in 2019 and we would then start thinking about goals of efficiency, equity and sustainability for informed policymaking”.
In the context of reservation for EWS, I have always held that the children of the poor from the upper castes — vegetable vendors, construction labourers, challenged individuals, self-employed or unemployed widows — deserve reservation as much as the children from Dalit households, who have enjoyed high economic and social status, say, for two generations. Let us then reserve 10 per cent seats for the poorest 10 per cent of the households, not covered under reservation. I would not be surprised if this principle enjoys some measure of support among a cross-section of the country’s population. However, the question is: Was this principle at work when the ruling party proposed the new quota and its rivals supported the move — or at best, registered a nominal protest?
Given contemporary realities and institutional infirmities, is it possible to ring fence this 10 per cent quota? The finance minster, while talking about direct tax collection, has often argued that given our democratic structure, it is difficult to work out clear operational criteria to identify the people who must pay taxes. In fact, more than two years after demonetisation, the government has not taken action against the account holders who deposited old currency well above their normal cash balance. Clearly, it fears losing votes.
The dearth of will — and capacity — to target the new quota to the actual poor is evident from the criteria that are likely to be fixed for identifying the potential beneficiaries. Persons from households with annual earning below Rs 8 lakh, possessing agricultural land below 5 acres, a plot less than 100 yards in a notified municipality or below 200 yards in the non-notified municipal area would be eligible for the reservation. The new amendment also allows the states to set income cut-offs to decide who constitutes EWS. They can even exceed the criteria set by the Centre. It also allows the states to notify EWS “from time to time on the basis of family income and other indicators of economic disadvantage” even if they are “adequately represented” in government jobs.

SCs, STs and OBCs account for 70 per cent of the population and are entitled to 49.5 per cent reservation in the government sector. The eligibility issue thus pertains to the remaining 30 per cent or 39 crore people, who fall under the general category. Calculations based on available data suggest that about 95 per cent of the people in the general category will be eligible under the new criteria.

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