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The 10 Percent Exit Clause

 C Anand Velayudhan 

The predictable political leitmotif –

double speak-played right into our faces during the last session of Indian parliament. All parties called it a shameless farce and yet, save a few playing to gallery, every colour votes in favour of the so called upper caste reservation.

What seemed obvious, going by the nature of BJP, appears to have missed attention of the watchers. While the electoral benefit of this reservation remains unsubstantiated, there is an unmistakable signature BJP style to the this 10% dagger plunged into the heart of meritocracy.

As the brouhaha over the 124th amendment dies, time may be ripe for some objective introspection of the amendment.

1-The 124th amendment to article 15 of the constitution does NOT provide any sort of upper caste reservation !! It addresses economically weaker sections of society . The amendment specifically mentions that it does not prevent the state from extending this benefit to anybody and does not exclude anybody. In effect it means that even the EWS (economically weaker sections) among ST and SC can avail of the provisions here in.

As usual many haven’t read the text of this bill before heaping accolades on rustic amateurs for voting against it in Rajya Sabha. Bihari politicians score above their counterparts from other states for pulling fast ones. Is this another proof ?

2- By 8 lakhs per annum eligibility the amendment effectively does two things

2(a)- It recognises that an income any less than US$ 12000 makes a family, rather pragmatically, in need of artificially boosted chances at grasping opportunity. So anybody who earns less than ₹15000 per month is eligible for the reservation after this latest amendment. Which makes nearly all Indians eligible. This is where the real jumla lies. Though in reality one could find it comforting  and rather uniting factor.

2(b)- Now with a bit of brawn NDA feels that though our poverty-line stands at

Rs. 32/-per day. (that math remains a mystery), one may not be poor with 15k per month but is still economically weak. These are new numbers for economist – call them targets for Modi 2.0.

But what was vaguely noticeable after NDA 1,2 and 3 has been established beyond doubt after NDA 4. They make policies that they feel will help the country forward into the future. One may ideologically differ from them but cannot deny them the benefit of doubt. Have they set in motion operating procedures, that successive govts. find sense following ? Many Namo policies may smack of vote bank politics, but this one doesn’t. It is so common a knowledge that when VP singh was not re-elected despite Mandal, BJP’s chances of returning victorious at hustings by this is bleak. Despite that, when they went ahead with it, it is bravado albeit.

I think in true sense the 124th amendment calls for an investigation of other reservations in its light. It may be the cue for leaders to look for limiting all preferential treatments to economically weaker sections among all the castes and sub castes. Is that what played in the saffron hued minds ?

Now whatever their political strategy, the 124th amendment may well be a panache for this nation. A nation that pledged jobs and college seats not to worthy candidates but un-empowered people on grounds of compassion, owing to lack of an exit clause in archaic laws.

This fresh amendment to article 15 of the constitution is food for thought on a platter for the next govt. that can potentially, bring back eminence to vogue.

 C Anand Velayudhan is Chief correspondent – India for an American Television Channel ‘


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