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Sansad TV: In Depth- Constitution (One Hundred and Third Amendment) Act





In a landmark ruling, the Supreme Court upheld by a 3-2 majority the Constitution (One Hundred and Third Amendment) Act, 2019 introducing 10 percent reservation for the economically weaker sections (EWS) among the unreserved categories in admissions and government jobs.

Reservation based on economic status:

  • Majority of lower castes have stepped up the social ladder and are now on an equal status compared to the general population. Hence, there is no need for reservation anymore.
  • Reservation only provides a limited and short-term solution to the historical injustice issues.
  • Reservation is obviously a tool to address social and educational backwardness, however, it does not have solutions for all social and economic ailments. There are much better and innovative ways to solve those issues. However, reservation prevents the leadership to come up with viable solutions.
  • As the reservation grows larger, it becomes a mechanism of exclusion rather than of inclusion. Because, nowadays, the previously advantaged communities have becoming disadvantaged to a large extent due to the reservation conundrum. Many upper castes are still plagued by poverty and illiteracy.
  • Reservation brings down the economic growth rate of the country as it reduces the efficiency of its labour.
  • New reservation on the basis of economic background is based on moral duties which are implicitly part of the constitution.
  • Every person has right ‘not face any inequality on the base of any ground’ and, the directive principle of state policy (DPSP) is a moral obligation on the state to secure a social order for the promotion of the welfare of the people.
  • High economic class and lower economic class and higher economic class in SCs and STs defend a reservation for maintaining the status quo.
  • The same scenario is in socially and economically backward class also like Maratha, Jats, gurjars etc. is demanding reservation despite high living standard.
  • Reservation on the basis of economic background may pave the way for a casteless society which was initially purpose of Dr Ambedkar’s reservation system.

Need of the Hour: Affirmative action and Equality in opportunities:

What is urgently required is a mechanism that can address this lacuna and make the system more accountable and sensitive to intra-group demands.

Since every further categorisation will only lead to reification and fragmentation in the long run, two things are required.

  • One, we urgently need to develop a wide variety of context-sensitive, evidence-based policy options that can be tailored to meet specific requirements of specific groups.
  • Two, we need an institution alike the Equal Opportunities Commission of the United States or the United Kingdom which can undertake two important but interrelated things: make a deprivation index correlating data from the socio-economic-based census of different communities including caste, gender, religion, and other group inequalities and rank them to make tailor made policies.
  • Undertake an audit on performance of employers and educational institutions on non-discrimination and equal opportunity and issue codes of good practice in different sectors.
  • This will make the formulation of policy and its monitoring simpler at an institutional level.

Way forward:

  • Reservation is a policy tool that is used not only in India. In many countries, reservation or other types of affirmative action are used to try to overcome human prejudice based on race, gender, ethnicity, religion, caste or any other group identity, and to encourage representation of and participation by groups traditionally excluded and discriminated against.
  • One way to make these measures more acceptable and help people better understand the historic, social and cultural background behind reservation would be to educate children in schools about caste, ethnic, gender and regional diversities and the need for public policy interventions to make society more equal and fair.