File photo of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Photograph:( ANI )
The reservation for the upper castes — if cleared by parliament and the courts — will be in government jobs and education.
The Narendra Modi cabinet has approved a 10% quota for the upper castes. The reservation — if it is cleared by parliament and if gets past the courts — will be given to the economically weak among the upper castes.
PTI reported that the government is likely to bring a constitutional amendment bill in Parliament on Tuesday.
The reservation for the upper castes will be in government jobs and educational institutions.
The 10% quota is over and above the 50% reservation already given to the scheduled castes, tribes, and other backward castes (OBCs). The Supreme Court however has repeatedly struck down any further reservations over the 50% mark.
The upper castes have never before been given the benefit of a quota.
The move to give the upper castes a quota comes just before the 2019 general elections.
PTI quoted sources as saying the reservation is likely to be availed by those whose annual income is below Rs 8 lakh and have up to five acres of land, he said.
Articles 15 and 16 of the Constitution will have to be amended for implementation of the decision, the sources added.
Former attorney general Soli Sorabjee told the Zee Network that "since in its present form constitution doesn't allow such reservation, it would need a constitutional amendment. Which will be a time-taking process which would need numbers.
"There have been changes in reservation structure from time to time, horizontal as well as vertical.
"As reservation is not considered to be a basic structure of the constitution so amendment can be made. Though the Government has to prove that there is a need for such amendment."
The reaction to the news of the new quota was swift:
Reservations are meant to correct historical injustice to Dalits. For poverty alleviation, one may run various schemes but reservations are meant for justice.— Asaduddin Owaisi (@asadowaisi) January 7, 2019
Constitution doesn’t permit reservations on economic groundshttps://t.co/KrHNruMXse
WB CM on 10% reservation approved by Cabinet for economically weaker upper castes:My question is,in the name of elections can a govt cheat people or ditch unemployed youth?They've to clarify whether it will be implemented or not and if it is constitutionally&legally valid or not pic.twitter.com/l2XnYbhd4s— ANI (@ANI) January 7, 2019
Randeep Surjewala, Congress on 10% reservation approved by Cabinet for economically weaker upper castes: 100 days are left for elections and Mr Modi now remembers the economically weaker sections of the society. pic.twitter.com/NelzKLWnFJ— ANI (@ANI) January 7, 2019
MoS for Social Justice & Empowerment Vijay Sampla: It's a historic step by Modi govt. It's meant for economically weaker upper caste sections whose annual earning is lower than Rs. 8 lakhs and who possess less than 5 acres of land. It will not affect other reservation categories. pic.twitter.com/4YQt97sXhW— ANI (@ANI) January 7, 2019
On social media however, it looked like large sections of the twitterati approved of the move:
#ModiOnceMore— 🇮🇳 Pradeep Kumar 🇮🇳 (@pradeepksm2272) January 7, 2019
1st time in 70yrs , A upper caste Hindus will get 10% #Reservation who are financially-weak .
Till today no one showed courtesy for Upper Caste ppl.
MODI - "The Baap of all Politicians" pic.twitter.com/PeKTsxif5H
He ruled Gujarat for 15 years as a chief minister and he is ruling India from 2014 as PM ;the opposition underestimated his political brilliance. He is Narendra Modi. Welcome move by govt. to grant 10% #Reservation to economically deprived Upper Caste . #SabkaSaathSabkaVikas— Rahul Jha (@JhaRahul_Bihar) January 7, 2019
The Indian constitution saw reservations as a means of righting the historical discrimination against the lower castes and uplifting the socially backward. And they have helped create a burgeoning middle class among the lower castes, the Dalits for example.
There has however been resentment against the reservations among the upper castes.
The general refrain from the upper castes has been that reservations should be based on incomes, and not merely on caste. Basically, that only the poor should be given them.
The new 10% reservations, since they are in one sense based on income — they can only be availed by people with incomes less than Rs 8 lakh per annum and who own less than 5 acres of land — fit in with that idea.