Gujarat quota decision not right

Gujarat quota decision not right

The Gujarat government’s offer of 10% reservation in jobs and education to the economically backward among the upper castes may not lead to an end to the agitation launched by the state’s Patidar community demanding recognition as a backward community and reservation. The government has already notified its decision through an
ordinance but the Patidars have categorically rejected it. In the first place, the community has to share the reservation cake with other forward communities, because all those whose income is below Rs 6 lakh per annum will be entitled to it. The agitation was
also the result of a heightened sense of identity acquired by the community. It will not be satisfied with a reservation scheme common to other communities. The government made the offer, which amounts to a surrender, because it did not want to alienate the community which was the backbone of the BJP in the state. The Haryana government also made a similar surrender to the Jat community which too staged a violent agitation with the same demand.

A more important point is that the government’s decision will turn out to be an empty gesture. Reservation on the basis of economic status have no constitutional sanction. Therefore, the Gujarat government’s decision may not pass judicial muster. The 10% reservation proposed now will take the total reservation in the state from the present 49 to 59%. The Supreme Court has laid down in the Indra Sawhney case that total reservation should not exceed 50%. In Tamil Nadu, where the reservation stands at 69%, it is protected by the Ninth Schedule of the Constitution. It will not be possible to give similar constitutional protection to legislations of other states where the quota exceeds 50%.  Whenever states have tried to do so, they have failed.It will also not be wise to exceed the limit. Once the limit is breached and it gets sanction, it will be difficult to stop governments from further increasing the limit. There will be more and more demands and pressures from various communities for inclusion on the OBC list. It will not be a good idea to keep raising the quotas and shrinking the space for merit. Governments should declare unequivocally that there will be no more reservation and no lifting of the limit. If any community wants to get reservation, it will have to share it with others who are already in the OBC list. This can only be done with the consent
of those who are entitled to reservation now.

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