Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s decision to give 10% reservation to the ‘general’ category or the Constitution (One Hundred and Twenty-fourth Amendment) Bill, 2019 is being termed as the best gift for upper castes which have long been denied the fruits of reservation. But a closer look reveals the decision appears to have been taken in a hurry and the fruits of reservation may end up accruing more to minorities and harming OBCS than helping upper caste Hindus.
At the outset, the Bill mentions a ‘…special provision for the advancement of any economically weaker sections of citizens other than classes mentioned in clauses (4) and (5) …’. This is not exactly economically weaker upper castes alone because there is no mention of any caste or religion. Any citizen of India that falls under the criteria mentioned will be eligible to apply under the new 10% quota rather than just upper caste Hindus as being marketed by BJP supporters.
— Times of India (@timesofindia) January 10, 2019
The other striking feature of the Bill is that it seeks to exclude SC/ST and OBCs from this 10% reservation. This could prove to be detrimental for OBCs as till now they have been free to compete with others in the general category comprising about 50.5% which is not reserved. With this new Amendment, their competitive pool could come down from about 77.5% (27% reserved and 50.5% general) to about 67.5% (27% reserved and 40.5% general) as they are excluded from the new 10% reservation.
Reservation created to give equal opportunity to each citizen. #QuotaBill provides social and economic justice to economically weaker sections. I urge the opposition parties to support the bill wholeheartedly: @arunjaitley
— Times of India (@timesofindia) January 8, 2019
But what is even more interesting to note is, ‘…special provisions relate to their admission to educational institutions including private educational institutions, whether aided or unaided by the State other than minority educational institutions referred to in clause (1) of article 30…’. This effectively means minorities will not only avail the current reservation in minority educational institutions, but will can also avail this 10% reservation like any other citizen of India falling under the ‘economic backward’ criteria.
— Times of India (@timesofindia) January 9, 2019
It would seem ironical that a government led by Narendra Modi would become the first central government that actually opened a small chunk of reservation for minorities which is being sold as reservation ‘exclusively’ for upper castes. What would be more ironical that a leader who never fails to flaunt his OBC credentials may have actually shrunk the competitive job pool for his class. In the end, this may just be the beginning of more trouble in reservation politics.
DISCLAIMER : Views expressed above are the author’s own.