Equality is the soul of the Indian Constitution. Dr B.R. Ambedkar, while drafting the constitution, laid emphasis on equality of opportunity in education and employment. Following the same ideology, the BJP-led government in 2019 introduced the 124th Constitution Amendment Bill or the Reservation Bill for Economically Weaker Section of the Society. This Bill was passed by the Parliament and became the 103rd Constitutional Amendment Act in January 2019. The act aims to provide 10% reservation in the educational and employment opportunities for the Economically Weaker Section of the existing unreserved category.
The people have a strong will and desire to achieve what they wish to but everyone does not have the same amount of resources. It is ethically incorrect that a person is deprived of the opportunities which he/she deserves. Economic strength becomes the latent criteria to achieve. This causes depression in the talent which is essential for the growth and development of the country.
An inferior complex is developed in the mind-set of the youth because of the latent criteria. These kids are born in poor families. This does not mean that they should be denied their right to accomplish and live their dreams. It is the duty of the government to not let this happen. If this happens and continues in the country, then the consequences of the same could be very dangerous. A person, who believed that he/she could achieve whatever he/she wishes, would suffer a setback because of reasons which cannot be controlled.
In the independence period of more than seventy years, probably this is a strong step taken by any government for eradication of poverty. It is education which brings hope in the eyes of the poor, the desire of getting a better future.
The Constitution (One Hundred and Twenty Four Amendment) Bill was introduced in Lok Sabha by Minister of Social Justice and Empowerment, Mr Thaawar Chand Gehlot. The bill became an act when it was passed by Rajya Sabha on January 9, 2019. The act seeks to amend Article 15 of the Indian Constitution (Prohibition of discrimination on the basis of religion, race, caste, colour or place of birth) to allow the government to make provisions for the advancement of an economically backward section of the society. The act also amends Article 16 of the Indian Constitution (Equality of Opportunity in matters of public employment) to permit the government to reserve 10% of all posts for this stratum of citizens. This act also fulfils the responsibility of the government towards Article 46 of the constitution (Directive Principles of State Policies). According to it, it is the duty of the government to promote educational and economic interests of the weaker sections of the society.
To get a reservation under this category, there are certain conditions which a person must qualify. These are:
This act, like others, is facing scrutiny in the Supreme Court of India. Youth for Equality, Tehseen Poonawala and some other activists filed the petition in the apex court. They contended that this act breaches the basic structure of the Constitution. Also, the 10% reservation crosses the ceiling mark of 50% reservation as decided by the Supreme Court in its previous landmark judgement of Indra Sawhney v. Union of India in 1993.
Attorney General K.K. Venugopal said that 50% reservation rule would apply normally but an exception could be made if the situation so warranted. He also mentioned that the Court has restricted the meaning of backward to mean only educationally and socially backward strata, thereby there is no option with the government to bring in the quota for poor.
However, this case is still pending in the Honourable Court.
Previously P.V. Narsimha Rao Government tabled this bill in the Parliament. But Supreme Court restricted the bill because of guidelines it made in the Indra Sawhney v. Union of India judgement.
Nevertheless, this act is actually very beneficial for the economically backward stratum of society. Right to Education is the fundamental right of every person as guaranteed by the Indian Constitution under Article 21A.
Higher education in India is very costly. Further, it is really very difficult to compete with those who have all the resources because of money power. It is unfair that things, which a person deserves, are not available to all because of their economic weakness. Although the Constitution assures the Right to Education and employment opportunities to every individual, practically the economic barrier infringes this human right.
Education is the window to future, window to hopes and door to the development for the country. India is a young nation. Every coin has two faces. The youth power also has two faces. The power of youth could be utilised to become the superpower if guided properly and talent nurtured. However, this power could also be squandered if unguided. This talent could be used by them in the wrong ways leading to crimes like online fraud and scams. They may hamper the development by indulging in unethical deeds. It is in the hands of the government to aid the youth because the current young generation actually belongs to middle-income groups and low-income groups. These groups have ideas but do not have money to turn these into reality. This problem could be done away with if these people are helped. This act helps by bringing them equal to those who have enough of everything. Further aiding them would not only help them personally but also the nation in growth and development.