In the middle of a row, the government backs down on the relaxation of the age for the EWS quota

NEW DELHI: In a radical change, the government officially withdrew its proposal to relax the age limit on eligibility and attempts at public employment for upper-caste candidates below 10% for the economically weaker sections. The proposal was presented in the form of a cabinet note by the social justice ministry and was expected to be approved quickly, but the political rethinking seems to have ruined it for now.

R Subrahmanyam, secretary for social justice and empowerment, told TOI: “The cabinet note has been withdrawn for now. Requires a more detailed examination.

The proposal stated that the age limit for eligibility in public employment and education should be reduced by three years for people with EWS, on par with the benefit available to OBCs under Mandal's 27% quotas. The proposal was circulated to all ministries for comment amid indications from the social justice ministry that it would be approved as soon as possible.

This is the first public announcement about the change in stance on the controversial proposal that was first rejected by the personnel and training department last August, only to be enthusiastically moved again by the social justice ministry in February, amid of intense lobbying by interested superiors. caste groups.

While there is no indication of the reason behind the note's removal, the restatement appears to be rooted in the controversy generated by the broad belief that the EWS category was relaxing only to put it on par with OBCs without sufficient rationale. which originally resulted in this benefit for backward castes as well as SC and ST.

A government source said the proposal has not been rejected forever, pointing to political reasons that have put it on hold for now.

As reported by TOI on August 5, 2019, the DoPT minister Jitendra Singh had reacted negatively to the proposal arguing that “in the past, the issue of age relaxation had been decided only after observing the impact of the reservation policy, that is, whether the required number of people in that particular category was being included in the services reserved for them.

This implied that the age award is granted only if the beneficiary group of a particular regime cannot compete and succeed within the eligibility rules established by age.

Given the argument, relaxation under the EWS was considered unlikely because the economically weaker upper castes are assumed to be competitive. This is different from Dalits and vice versa which, due to historical social disadvantage, cannot compete under a lower age bar. The deficit noted during previous years of SC/ST/OBC dues led to the age discount being given.

In his response, Singh had noted that the relaxation of the age for OBCs occurred three years after Mandal's quotas were implemented, while it was longer in the case of SC and ST.