During the campaign for the 2014 Parliamentary elections, Narendra Modi promised to create two crore jobs a year. Instead, it has reached the point of losing one crore jobs a year. In 2018, the Government’s fourth year in power – 110 lakh jobs were lost in India, and unemployment rates are soaring steeply.
With the 2019 Parliamentary polls just a few months away, and with its recent defeats in key North Indian Assembly elections, the Modi Government is trying desperately to deflect from its abysmal failure to deliver on promises of employment. Its latest tactic of deflection is its move to introduce 10% reservation in government higher education institutions and government jobs to the economically backward among the ‘general category’.
The Modi Government’s move is a fundamentally fraudulent one for many reasons. Modi is by far not the first to moot the idea of a quota for the economically deprived in the non-SC-ST-OBC quota jobs and educational seats. The Narasimha Rao Government introduced a similar measure in 1991, reserving 10% Government posts for “other economically backward sections of the people who are not covered by any existing schemes of reservation”. A nine judge Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court struck down that measure, observing that poverty alone cannot be the test of backwardness, and holding that social and educational backwardness was the only Constitutional basis for reservations.
The Modi Government is introducing the move on the very eve of the 2019 Parliamentary polls, knowing full well that the move is against Constitutional principles. If the Modi Government moves for a Constitutional Amendment to enable reservations based on economic criteria, this would be a covert move to open the doors for a subsequent undermining the SC/ST/OBC quotas, as the RSS has been demanding for long. In the last four years of Modi regime, we have witnessed the killing of SC/ST/OBC reservation in educational institutes and employment opportunities.
Further, the criteria used to identify economic deprivation are thoroughly absurd. The Modi Government’s proposed criterion is an annual household income of less than Rs 8 lakhs or ownership of less than five acres of agricultural land. This is such a broad categorization that it covers approximately 90% of the non-SC-ST-OBC. In reality, the BJP is desperately attempting for caste mobilization just before 2019 elections. We have seen how just before Madhya Pradesh election, the then Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan desperately and shamelessly attempted to dilute the SC/ST (Atrocities) Act.
Friends, we must rebuff the Modi Government’s diversionary tactics which also attempts to undermine the constitutional principles on reservation. We demand the Government must recognize the right to dignified employment as a fundamental right, ensure unemployment benefit, fulfill constitutionally mandated reservations and also guarantee reservations for socially deprived sections private sector.
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