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SC decision on Quota: Commendable, but incomplete

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Dr Veda Pratap Vaidik

The Supreme Court decision upholding the 10 per cent reservation for Economically Weaker Sections (EWS) in government jobs and educational institutions has been widely acknowledged and applauded.  This 10% reservation is in addition to the already existing 50 percent. Still two out of five judges who heard the case ruled against this reservation and the Tamil Nadu government also has opposed the Apex court decision to uphold  the. The five-judge bench was headed by Chief Justice of India (CJI) UU Lalit, along with Justice Dinesh Maheshwari, Justice S Ravindra Bhat, Justice Bela M Trivedi and Justice JB Pardiwala.

The arguments of the two judges who ruled against the quota have no merit. They say that giving more than 50 percent reservation is a violation of the Constitution. The limit of 50 percent reservation has not been fixed in any section of the Constitution.

Let us assume for a while that the contention was based on the Indira Sawhney case of 1992. So my question is will the Supreme Court now go on as it did 30 years ago? In fact, the Narasimha Rao government had announced reservations based on economic status i.e. degree of poverty. The same quota clause  was inducted into the Constitution by the BJP government in 2019. Now both Congress and BJP are vying to grab the credit. However, I am totally against any quota on the basis of birth, whether it is for Scheduled Castes or Backward Classes or so called minorities.

In my opinion, quota should purely be on the basis of need, not on the basis of birth. I was happy that the Narasimha Rao and Manmohan Singh governments took steps in that direction and the incumbent Prime Minister Narendra Modi deserves credit for showing the courage to take firm decision in this matter.

But the process is still incomplete. When the government brought the Bill in Parliament in 2019 by making Economic Status the basis for reservation, 323 MPs supported it and only 3 MPs opposed.

But unfortunately present day political leaders or parties lack the audacity to demand to implement Dr. Ambedkar’s wish. He had said that reservations on the basis of birth have to continue just for 10 years from the implementation date.  On the contrary, it has been continuing unabated till date. It has become tool to promote indolence, discrimination, casteism and creamy class in the country. The power hungry leaders have no regrets in compromising national interest for vote banks.  They dare to do anything, even unethical, for power and position.

Instead of jobs, if reservation is granted on the basis of economic status in education and medicine, then who would prefer to beg for government mercy? Reservation given on the basis of economic status would have proved much more productive for the society at large than caste and communal quota. The quota based on economic status would surely strengthen the unity and equality of the country. In 75 years India would have emerged one of the richest nations and a global superpower. However, I treat this decision of the Supreme Court incomplete, but a creditable beginning.

*Dr. Vaidik is a widely travelled scholar-journalist. He has visited more than 80 countries on diplomatic and educational missions. Dr. Vaidik has won more than a dozen National and International awards for academic and journalistic excellence. He has been a member of several Advisory Committees of Government of India.

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