|2.||Reservation for Economically Weaker Sections (EWS)|
|3.||Impact on Education and Employment|
|4.||Disagreements and Criticisms|
|5.||Transformation of the Socioeconomic System|
|6.||Implications for the Future and Problems|
Introduction to the 105th Amendment Act
The Indian Constitution’s 105th Amendment Act, officially known as the Constitution (One Hundred and Fifth Amendment) Act, 20191, is a crucial legislative measure that introduced important changes in the field of reservations in India. This amendment passed on January 12, 2019, and adopted on August 5, 2019, marked a turning point in India’s lengthy history of affirmative action legislation.
The major goal of the 105th Amendment Act was to expand reservations to economically disadvantaged sectors (EWS) of the general population. It intended to provide equitable opportunity for individuals who were economically disadvantaged while not belonging to the Scheduled Castes (SC), Scheduled Tribes (ST), or Other Backward Classes (OBC). This modification sought to address the long-standing complaint that reservation systems disproportionately benefited specific castes, potentially leaving economically disadvantaged individuals out of the general category.
The inclusion of Articles 15(6) and 16(6) to the Indian Constitution was one of the significant measures established by this amendment. These provisions allowed the government to give up to 10% reservation in educational institutions and public employment for the EWS2, allowing them to enter the intensely competitive Indian education and job sectors.
The passage of the 105th Amendment Act was a watershed point in India’s quest for social justice and equality. It triggered heated debates and discussions on what constitutes “economic backwardness” and the practical implications of such reservations. It generated both support and criticism, as with every big constitutional amendment, prompting a full assessment of India’s complicated confluence of caste, class, and affirmative action.
Reservation for Economically Weaker Sections (EWS)
The Economically Weaker Sections (EWS) quota policy was implemented in India through the 105th Amendment Act, which signified a substantial break from the traditional framework of caste-based reservations. This programme, which went into force in 2019, intends to reduce economic disparities and provide chances to those from economically disadvantaged backgrounds in general.
Individuals in the EWS category are entitled to up to 10% of seats in educational institutions and government positions under the EWS reservation policy. Individuals or families must meet certain income and wealth requirements to qualify for EWS. The income restriction often takes into account factors such as family income, property, and agricultural holdings. By giving reservation benefits to people who are struggling financially but do not belong to any reserved category, this tactic aims to level the playing field.
One of its main benefits is that the EWS reservation policy does not conflict with currently held reservations for Scheduled Castes (SC), Scheduled Tribes (ST), or Other Backward Classes (OBC). Instead, it adds a new category within the broader category for economically disadvantaged people.
The implementation of EWS reservations has received both praise and criticism. Proponents say that it tackles the issue of economic inequality, while detractors worry about the potential impact on current quotas and call the criteria of economic backwardness into doubt.
Impact on Education and Employment
The 105th Amendment Act’s inclusion of Economic Weaker Sections (EWS) reservations in education and employment has had a significant impact on access to these critical fields. This programme attempted to increase chances for economically disadvantaged individuals in the general category by allocating up to 10% of seats and posts in educational institutions and public jobs to EWS candidates.
The impact has been substantial in the field of education. EWS reservations have increased access to quality education for pupils who would not otherwise have had such possibilities. This change has enhanced competition and diversity in classroom settings, resulting in a more inclusive educational experience. However, it has raised concerns about the infrastructure and resources needed to accommodate the increasing student intake, which might put institutions under strain.
In terms of employment, EWS reservations have opened up new opportunities for job seekers from economically disadvantaged backgrounds. EWS candidates now have more access to government career possibilities in particular. This has the ability to generate greater social inclusion by creating a more varied and representative workforce. However, difficulties occur when attempting to balance the demands of employment quotas with the necessity for merit-based selections.
The impact of EWS reservations on education and employment is a source of contention, with continuous debates over implementation, effectiveness, and the difficult balance between eliminating economic disparities and maintaining the quality and efficiency of these institutions.
Disagreements and Criticisms
Since its beginnings, the 105th Amendment Act, which introduced reservations for the Economically Weaker Sections (EWS), has been the subject of various disputes and critiques. While supporters say that it reduces economic inequality, detractors have legitimate concerns about its possible consequences.
One major point of contention is the notion of “economic backwardness” used to determine eligibility for EWS reservations. According to critics, the income and asset limitations are arbitrary and do not reflect the genuine amount of economic need. This has raised concerns about whether qualified candidates are being denied, despite the fact that persons who are not genuinely economically disadvantaged may profit from the approach.
Another issue is that the existing reservation quotas for Scheduled Castes (SC), Scheduled Tribes (ST), and Other Backward Classes (OBC) may be diluted. Some are concerned that the 10% EWS reserve may limit possibilities for historically marginalised communities, undercutting the basic purpose of affirmative action policies.
Furthermore, there are issues regarding the viability of efficiently enforcing EWS reservations, particularly in highly competitive industries like as education and public jobs. Critics say that the sudden surge of EWS applicants will strain resources and infrastructure, lowering overall educational and administrative quality.
Critics of the 105th Amendment Act also criticise the timing and intentions for its passage, implying that it was motivated by political considerations rather than a genuine desire to redress economic inequality.
These debates and criticisms underscore the complexities of EWS reservations, as well as the necessity for continual examination and revision to ensure they achieve their intended goals without negatively impacting other marginalised groups.
Transformation of the Socioeconomic System
The 105th Amendment Act’s implementation of the Economically Weaker Sections (EWS) quota policy has the potential to cause enormous socioeconomic upheavals in India. While the entire scope of these changes will become obvious over time, a number of potential consequences can be predicted.
- Increased Educational Access: EWS reservations give economically disadvantaged people easier access to quality education. As a result, a larger pool of qualified and educated workers from varied origins may emerge, potentially contributing to economic growth and development.
- Expanded Employment Opportunities: The programme intends to solve unemployment and underemployment among economically disadvantaged groups by reserving government job openings for EWS candidates. This can result in a higher standard of living for EWS households and a decrease in poverty rates.
- Reduced Income disparity: If implemented correctly, the EWS reservation policy may contribute to lowering income disparity by providing chances to individuals who were previously marginalised owing to economic constraints. EWS reservations can act as a social mobility mechanism, allowing individuals to break the cycle of poverty and access better prospects for themselves and their children.3
- Diverse Representation: The policy may result in more diverse representation in educational institutions and government bodies in the long run, encouraging a sense of inclusion and equity.
- Problems and Adjustments: It is crucial to emphasise that the policy offers problems, such as ensuring that infrastructure and resources can meet the increased demand for education and employment possibilities.4
The socioeconomic transition brought about by the 105th Amendment Act has a lot of potential, but it also needs to be carefully monitored, evaluated, and adjusted if it is to reduce economic inequities while retaining the effectiveness of institutions and services.
Implications for the Future and Problems
The introduction of EWS reservations in India via the 105th Amendment Act has far-reaching ramifications for the future, as well as a number of obstacles that must be properly addressed.
- Socioeconomic inclusiveness: EWS reservations have the potential to improve socioeconomic inclusiveness. The strategy attempts to eliminate income disparity and create a more balanced society by offering chances to economically disadvantaged individuals.
- Diversity in Education and Employment: By including EWS candidates, educational institutions and the workforce can become more diverse. This variety can broaden viewpoints and produce a more welcoming workplace.5
- Effective Implementation: It is a huge problem to ensure that the benefits of EWS reservations reach the intended beneficiaries. Transparent methods and proper implementation mechanisms are critical.
- Infrastructure and Resources: The unexpected increase in the number of EWS students and job seekers may put educational institutions and government organisations under strain. To handle this transition, adequate infrastructure and resources must be allocated.
- Balancing current Quotas: Finding the correct balance between EWS reservations and current quotas for SC, ST, and OBC populations is a major difficulty. The strategy should not unintentionally limit chances for historically marginalised communities.
- Political Manipulation: There is a concern that reserve policies will be manipulated for political advantage. These policies must be safeguarded against abuse.
- Continuous Evaluation: To assess the long-term impact of EWS reservations, continuous evaluation and policy revisions may be required to guarantee the programme accomplishes its socioeconomic aims.6
To summarise, the future of EWS reservations in India is dependent on their efficient implementation, overcoming hurdles, and remaining focused on the larger goal of eliminating economic disparity and promoting a more inclusive society.
- The Constitution (One Hundred and Fifth Amendment) Act, 2019. “Gazette of India”
- The Times of India, “10% quota for poorer sections in general category challenged in Supreme Court,” January 10, 2019.
- Kumar, S. (2019). “Impact of Reservation Policy in India: A Socio-Economic Analysis.” International Journal of Recent Research Aspects, 6(1), 1-10.
- Dreze, J., & Khera, R. (2017). “Understanding Leakages in the Public Distribution System.” Economic and Political Weekly, 52(28), 49-55.
- Kundu, T., & Kanbur, R. (2019). “Economics and Politics of Reservation in India: An Overview of Emerging Issues.” Cornell University ILR School, Ithaca, New York.
- Thorat, S., & Attewell, P. (2007). “The Legacy of Social Exclusion: A Correspondence Study of Job Discrimination in India.” Economic and Political Weekly, 42(41), 4141-4145.
This article is authored by Srishti Singh, a pass-out student at O P Jindal Global University, Sonipat