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Unconstitutional Reservation

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The proposed 10% reservation in government jobs and educational institutions for the economically weaker sections (EWS) in the general category is above the 50% reservation currently in place for the Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and Other Backward Classes, and will take the total reservation to 60%. The famous judgment of the Supreme Court in 1992 in the case commonly referred to as the Indira Sawhney and Others v Union of India, mentions that “Reservation being extreme form of protective measure or affirmative action it should be confined to minority of seats. Even though the Constitution does not lay down any specific bar but the constitutional philosophy being against proportional equality the principle of balancing equality ordains reservation, of any manner, not to exceed 50%.”

The question that arises is: Is the 10% reservation for the EWS against the constitutional philosophy of limiting the total reservation to 50%? Only time will tell.

Previous attempts to increase the reservation beyond 50% were struck down by the courts. Economic inclusion of poorer sections of society through additional reservation (beyond 50%) in jobs and educational institutions may not find favour with the courts. In addition, reservation of jobs is not a viable and sustainable solution for the youth in the long run. The alternate solution could be to create more jobs in the country through progressive policies, especially for the small- and medium-sized enterprises and for the informal sector, bring about agricultural and banking reforms, and to lower corporate taxes and export tariffs, etc. The number of scholarships for poorer students could be substantially increased in educational institutions.

According to the report “State of Working India, 2018” published by Azim Premji University, the ratio of employment growth to gross domestic product (GDP) growth is currently less than 0.1. Job growth has declined since 2015, coupled with a high rate of open unemployment. At the current rate, the burgeoning youth population, with half of it under 25, would have to struggle for jobs in the next decade and the situation may perpetuate to a full-blown job crisis. Policies that link GDP growth with job growth should be prioritised. The current job scenario is quite grim in India and the additional 10% reservation may not do economic justice to the EWS of the general category in the society.

Sudip Das

Bengaluru

Updated On : 11th Jan, 2019

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