Patel Agitation: Caste based reservations Vs income-based reservation

Related Info:

  • Patels or Patidars, constitute about 15 % of the Gujrat’s population, are an economically and politically dominant upper caste.

  • Majorly an urban phenomenon, though has support from rural areas
  • The movement led by Hardik Patel, used social media extensively
  • Trying to make alliances with upper castes in other states
  • Demand: Give reservation on OBC quota to Patels or institute income-based reservations
  • The movement resulted in violence in Gujrat, garnered tremendous support
  • Reasons:
    • The existing reservation policy that has failed to assimilate lowest castes/tribes within the mainstream economy and society, has created a sense of dissatisfaction and injustice among those who are denied the benefits of reservation
    • Gujarat model of development has failed miserably in creating adequate employment opportunities for the growing labour force

Reasons for abolition of caste-based reservation:

  • The reservation policy was initiated as a temporary provision (for 10 years) for STs/SCs in our Constitution in 1950, that too only for political seats.
  • But now it has expanded its coverage and contents multifold over the past six to seven decades and now become an almost a permanent feature of the national policies.
  • The reservation policies are being mainly used for vote bank politics
  • It has failed in including the people at the bottom in the mainstream economy and society
  • The policy has ended up as a tool that discriminates against the high caste youths in favour of the low caste youths, sometimes coming from the same economic background
  • It is not the poorest but frequently the non-poor, middle income groups of SC/ST/OBC who are seen to be the beneficiaries of reservations
  • The tool of reservation has failed miserably in removing caste differences and has promoted the caste divide and caste conflicts.
  • Our reservation policies, that have ended up giving preference to more or less the same class of SC/ST/OBC in school/college admission, in jobs and in promotions as well as subsidies in innumerable programmes and schemes, leaving out the poorer sections among them at the bottom

Reasons for continuation of reservations:

  • Many still socially discriminated
  • Only hope of rising up the ladder
  • Reports and census clearly shows that caste is correlated with economic prosperity
  • More reasons here

Supreme Court’s view on reservations:

  • SC declared in the  Indra Sawhney And Ors. vs Union of India (UOI) And Ors. , 1991, that reservations cannot exceed the 50% quota as it would violate equal access guaranteed by the Constitution
  • The caste-based reservation stands at 69% in Tamil Nadu, the case is under litigation.
  • Recently overturned the decision to include Jats in the OBC list by the Supreme Court. Any decision to extend reservation benefits to new claimants might not pass judicial scrutiny
  • It ruled that the perception of a self-proclaimed socially backward class of citizens cannot be a constitutionally permissible yardstick for determination of backwardness.
  • It specifically warned against a caste-centric definition of backwardness, and called for new practices, methods and yardsticks to be evolved to identify socially disadvantaged groups for extending the benefits of reservation.

What changes are needed to implement income-based reservation?

  • Excluding the entire creamy layer of all castes from reservation
  • Developing the capabilities of the deprived and excluded beyond offering them admission to higher education or jobs on a platter.
  • The underlying principle should be that all the poorest at the bottom get support and all the poorest — excluded socially and economically — get a preference.
  • Change in growth model: Need high job growth model of development. Presently, the growth of the modern sector has been highly capital intensive, where jobs generated are relatively few and local youth frequently do not qualify.

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