10% Quota Bill: Despite Problems, I Want Income-Based Reservation
The 10 percent quota Bill is the first step towards income-based reservation. 
The 10 percent quota Bill is the first step towards income-based reservation. (Photo: Aroop Mishra/The Quint)

10% Quota Bill: Despite Problems, I Want Income-Based Reservation

On 8 January, the Lok Sabha passed the 10 percent quota Bill for jobs and education for the economically weaker sections of the upper castes. That sounds good for a person like me who belongs to the general category (the so-called “upper caste”), but has faced adversity while preparing for a government job, or to be more precise, civil services.

I was able to clear CDS and CAPF written exams conducted by UPSC in my 3rd year of college itself, but couldn’t go beyond the mains. I went to Delhi after completing my BSc from a government university. I prepared for the exam with the help of a tutor and stayed in a single room. My economic conditions were not sound enough for life in Delhi.

I was left feeling helpless to see that some of the people I knew, who were from to a good income family, were selected only because their names were in the reserved category. I was in the so-called upper caste category, but a lower income group. Why should the poor from the general category suffer this way?

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Without thinking of being politically correct, I believe my reality is proof that there are poor people in upper castes as well. Perhaps, they too need social and constitutional assistance for their overall development. For this reason, I am inclined towards reservation based on economic criteria alone.

One caveat, however, is the criteria by which it is going to be delivered, ie, a person having a family income of less than Rs 8 lakh will be eligible for the quota. If we assess the Bill through India’s per capita income, which is pegged at around Rs 1.25 lakh, according to the latest estimates, a person whose income is Rs 8 lakh per annum will be considered as a person of good income in society.

So, there is a possibility that the well-off creamy layer of this category will reap the benefit while those who really need it will be left behind. This clause may then, perhaps, neutralise the efficacy of income-based reservation.

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There is also the problem of class within a class. For example, in the SC category, maximum benefit goes to the people who were once underprivileged, but after a few generations, they have managed to attain good positions for themselves and their family.

These affluent candidates are a bar to economically and regionally-backward candidates within the same caste. Regardless, the poorest of the poor continue to remain in misery.

It remains to be seen if the Bill will tackle these issues, given its sudden and shocking declaration. Perhaps ruling parties know that politics is a game of perception rather than that of statistics. The ruling party finds its big voter base in the general category. For a long time, this category has been largely faithful to this party.

However, by strengthening few pro-reservation policies in 2018, the government has infused an anti-BJP rhetoric among those in the general category. To save its conventional voter base, the BJP had to do something.

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An enactment of this Bill will have to go a long way in addressing these problems, and the BJP has to overcome a few technical aspects. The impact is still unclear, but keeping the income bar high at Rs 8 lakh per annum will give most of the general category a perception that everyone is being taken care of. So, the BJP will get a positive response and may end up asking for one more term for the final enactment of the Bill.

(The author is a UPSC aspirant. All 'My Report' branded stories are submitted by citizen journalists to The Quint. Though The Quint inquires into the claims/allegations from all parties before publishing, the report and the views expressed above are the citizen journalist's own. The Quint neither endorses, nor is responsible for the same.)

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