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What Constitution Amendment Bill Has Brought For The Economically Weaker Sections

The Central Government of India has introduced the 124th Constitution Amendment Bill in the Parliament to provide reservations for Economically Weaker Sections (EWS) among the general category candidates. The move is to provide 10% reservation in higher education and government employment.

This is one of the major steps introduced by the Government at the beginning of 2019. The decision seems to be interesting and advantageous to the citizens. Let’s have a wider look at it:

Here’s the amendment which took place on 9th January 2019.

124th Constitution Amendment Bill, 2019

The Parliament passed the Constitution 124th Amendment Bill, 2019, which aims to provide ten per cent reservation to the economically weaker sections (EWS) in the General category. The bill facilitates reservation for economically weaker sections in direct recruitment for jobs and admission in higher educational institutions.

Don’t worry; this doesn’t mean that the existing quotas for SC (Scheduled Castes), ST (Scheduled Tribes) and OBC (Other Backward Caste) people will be tampered due to this.

This move in the amendment of the bill is expected to benefit a huge section of upper castes, including Brahmins, Rajputs, Thakurs, Jats, Marathas, Bhumihars, and several trading castes, including Kapus and Kammas.

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What is the reason for passing the above bill?

The major reason for passing the Bill was that for a very long time, people from economically weaker sections of society have largely remained excluded from attending higher educational institutions and public employment because of their financial incapacity to compete with the persons who are economically more privileged.

Due to the above reason, Article 15 and Article 16 of the Constitution of India has been amended now.

What will the “Economically Weaker Sections Quota bill” amend in the Indian Constitution?

It largely amended Article 15 and Article 16 of the Constitution of India

  • Amendment in Article 15 – Reservation in Educational Institutions

In article 15 of the Constitution, it has been updated to provide reservations to economically weaker sections for admission to educational institutions, including private educational institutions, whether aided or unaided by the State Government other than any minority educational institutions, as referred to in clause (1) of Article 30.

This reservation is capped at ten per cent.

  • Amendment to Article 16 – Reservation in Jobs

This article is amended to provide reservations to economically weaker sections of people in government jobs and posts.

Who are “Economically Weaker Sections”?

Economically weaker sections are based on their family income and any other indicator which reflects the economic disadvantage of that person for the purposes of Article 15 and Article 16.

Union Law and Justice Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said the states would have the freedom to decide on the income criterion of beneficiaries under the bill.

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This will be a class distinct from the already specified classes of SCs, STs and socially and educationally backward classes (OBCs).

What is the present status of reservations in India, and after this bill, what would be the future reservation?

  • Presently, reservations in India account for a total of 49.5%. When a 10% extra reservation for EWS is also added, it would be a total of 59.5%.
  • 5%, 15%, and 27% quotas are reserved for Scheduled Tribes, Scheduled Castes, and Other Backward Classes, respectively.
  • If the EWS Quota Bill becomes an Act, only 40.5% of seats will be allocated in educational institutions/jobs, which would be based on the merit of candidates.
  • Supreme Court pinpointed that an increase in reservations can compromise merit.
  • Remember, the merit quota is not reserved for the general category, hence the name – merit. It is open to candidates from all categories – including SC, ST, OBC, and the General category who qualify on merit and not because of the reason of reservation.
Constitution Amendment Bill

How this bill was passed?

The Bill was passed by both

  • Lok Sabha
  • Rajya Sabha

Now since it is already passed by both Houses of Parliament, the Parliament has passed the Constitution 124th (Amendment Bill), 2019

It will be sent to the President of India for its assent.

What about State assemblies? Does the bill need approval from them?


Government’s View on the 124th Constitution Amendment Bill

Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that it is a landmark moment in the nation’s history and an effective measure that will ensure justice for all the sections of society.
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Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said that unequal cannot be treated equally and further stated that if two individuals are not equal due to birth or for economic reasons, then they cannot be treated equally.

On the other hand, opposition parties like Congress supported the bill but doubted the government’s intentions and other parties call it a stunt to win forthcoming 2019 elections. Whatever could be the motive of the ruling party, such amendments should always be for the citizens of the country

Let’s come to a conclusion

For some, it could be the Government’s attempt to keep its upper caste vote banks intact, and for some, it could be the effort of the Government to reach out to the poorer sections of society. But the decision looks like major developments which are taking place since the ruling party came into power in 2014. We can hope that this decision at least benefits the Economically Weaker Sections (EWS) among the general category candidates.

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