Economically weak at Rs 8 lakh per annum ? 10 pc quota Bill

Citizenship (Amendment) Bill. Now the 10 pc quota Bill for the ‘economically weaker’ General category. Significant to note that the definition of the ‘economically weaker’ is qualified by the ceiling of Rs 8 lakh income per annum. This works out to about Rs 66,666 per month. There are other considerations too such as not owning agricultural land of more than five acres, having residential plots of less than 1000 square feet, etc. Economically weaker, this is the phrase that the Modi Government has used to catch the imagination of the people, particularly people belonging to the General category and if the ceiling is put at Rs 8 lakh per annum, then surely there cannot be any poor people in the country ! An individual earning Rs 66,666 per month cannot be considered poor by any stretch of the imagination and not surprisingly most of the middle and lower middle class people fall under this category and they make up more than 75 percent of the population of the country. To many who are not opulent but have felt the bite of the reservation system of quota system for years, the new measure will come like a breath of fresh air but the bigger question is whether the Rajya Sabha will also fall in line and pass the Bill to make it into an Act. Unlikely, but the BJP would have already delivered a powerful statement and that is it wanted to do something substantial for the middle and lower middle class people but it was the Opposition led by the Congress which stood in the way ! Perfect line to reach out to the people, more so on the eve of the Lok Sabha elections. This is where it may be asked why such a move was not contemplated earlier and only now.
The politics at play is starkly visible-that is the reservation politics. If it was the Congress which did nothing to stop the reservation system after the ten years period as envisaged by the Constitution, then India experienced the Mandal Commission days when the then VP Singh led Government implemented the 27 pc reservation for the OBCs, leaving the people under the general category high and dry. Merit be damned, it is the electoral politics that is more important to all the political parties and unfortunately the BJP does not seem to be different. This is where the Modi of 2014 seems to vastly different from the Modi of 2019 and this is something to be worried about. No one will refute that Narendra Modi came like a breath of fresh air when he led the BJP to a resounding victory in 2014 and all thought that India had a Prime Minister who can take the country to the next level. But sacrificing merit and competitiveness at the altar of the reservation politics is not exactly going to take the country forward. India can certainly do without more reservation and most importantly it needs to be deliberated whether an income of Rs 8 lakh per annum can actually be considered ‘economically weaker’ in a country like India. Or does it mean that the middle class and lower middle class folks should come under this definition ? Let there be intense debates and well informed discussions on this point.

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