10% Quota Bill: What Do Delhi’s UPSC Aspirants Have To Say?

UPSC aspirants in Delhi speak to The Quint about 10% reservation for economically weaker sections of upper caste.

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On 14 January, Gujarat became the first state to implement the 10 percent quota for economically weaker sections in the general category. Ever since the Bill was passed in the Parliament, it has sparked a major debate.

While some say the move will genuinely benefit economically weaker sections in the general category, others say it is a political ploy by the BJP to revive its fortunes after losing Assembly elections in Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan. People also point that giving quotas based on income, not caste, violates the purpose of reservation.

The Quint spoke to a number of UPSC aspirants in Delhi and asked them about their views on the government’s decision.

‘A Political Ploy to Consolidate Savarna Vote Bank’

Hemant Verma, a UPSC aspirant, told The Quint that reservation in our Constitution, has been cited as a social issue., and hence, should only be provided on social grounds. He further argued that by making reservation an economic issues, the government is treating ‘savarnas’ like a vote bank.

“After losing elections in three states, they (BJP) want to consolidate the ‘savarna’ vote bank. They could have come up with some other way to uplift the economically weaker sections.”
Hemant Verma, UPSC aspirant

‘Instead of Reservation, Govt Should Focus on Primary Education’

Another UPSC aspirant told The Quint that those who framed our Constitution saw reservation as a tool to uplift those who are socially and educationally backward.

“Rather than reservation, they should focus on improving the primary education system. Those who framed our Constitution provided reservation to socially and educationally backward sections. Now, this matter will go to the Supreme Court. They will make the final decision.”
UPSC aspirant

Criteria For Reservation a Point of Contention

Who are the people from upper caste that will be considered a part of economically weaker sections? According to the criteria mentioned in the Bill, people who will be considered a part of economically weaker section are:

  • Those who have an annual family income of under Rs 8 lakh.
  • Those who own land less than five acre.

But many UPSC aspirants pointed that most of the citizens fall under this criteria.

“90-95 percent of our population falls in these criteria. So, according to them, one who earns Rs 8 lakh annually or Rs 61,000 per month is economically weak.”
UPSC aspirant

Another UPSC aspirant argued that when the government deems anyone earning over Rs 2.5 lakh per annum rich enough to pay taxes, how can the one earning up to Rs 8 lakh be economically weak?


‘‘Loktantra Has Become an Arakshantantra’’

Another UPSC aspirant said that if the government keeps increasing the quotas for reservation, the Bharatiya loktantra (Indian democracy) may soon become arakshantantra (system based on reservation).

“Today, reservation has become a toy to be played with. Whoever is in the government uses reservation like a lollipop. The spirit of the Constitution shouldn’t be forgotten or else social divisions will increase. All sorts of discrimination takes place on social basis. We never hear that a Dalit was beaten for riding a horse because he didn’t earn a certain amount of money.”
UPSC aspirant

Will 10 Percent Quota Bill Pass The Judicial Test?

Some UPSC aspirants were of the view that if the Bill is challenged in the court, it may be struck down as under the Indira Sawhney vs Union of India case, the Supreme Court had ruled that reservation on economic grounds isn’t constitutional.

“Under the Indira Sawhney vs Union of India case, the nine-judge bench had removed the ‘creamy layer’ from the 27 percent OBC reservation. If they validate the 10 percent reservation then they may have to revaluate the Indira Sawhney case.
UPSC aspirant

However, others were of the view that since the government has passed a constitutional amendment in the Parliament, there is little to nothing that the courts can do about this Bill.

“Earlier, the Supreme Court had overturned reservations allowed on economic grounds. But this government has brought in a Constitutional amendment. So, I think this time, courts will hold it valid.”
UPSC aspirant

‘Benefits of Reservation Yet to Reach the Needy’

However, a few of the UPSC aspirants argued that even the benefits of caste-based reservations are yet to reach the weaker sections among Scheduled Castes (SC) and Scheduled Tribes (ST).

“The limit shouldn’t be as high as Rs 8 lakh. This may end up benefiting self-sufficient people from the upper caste. Similarly, in case of SC & ST the self-sufficient class is reaping benefits and those who need reservation aren’t getting it.”
UPSC aspirant

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