Cabinet approves 10% quota for economically weak among upper castes

File photo of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Photograph:( ANI )

WION Web Team New Delhi, Delhi, India Jan 07, 2019, 03.13 PM (IST)

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. 

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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: 

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On social media however, it looked like large sections of the twitterati approved of the move: 

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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.