The Supreme Court has rightly questioned the Union Government on its decision to fix a limit of Rs. 8 lakh as annual family income for a candidate appearing for NEET(for admission to medical and related courses across the country) to be able to come under the Economically Weaker Sections (EWS)category which attracts 10 percent reservation.
The court, which was upset about the lack of reliable parameters as guiding factors to arrive at the figure of Rs. 8 lakh per annum for those who do not come under any reservation, has asked the government to explain the basis on which the figure was arrived at.
Let us understand what it means to be a family income of Rs. 8 lakh a year or Rs. 66.000 a month even for those who do not come under any existing reservation for admission to medical and related courses through NEET. A teacher in a government school with 20 years of experience; a junior commissioned officer in the Indian Army; a non-gazetted employee of the Postal Department or of the Railways with considerable experience is not likely to have seen a monthly salary of Rs. 66,000. When such is the case, who are those whose income is Rs. 8 lakh a year and still come under the EWS category for 10 percent reservation?
Taking into consideration the economic situation of the vast number of people who come under the “Classes that do not come under any reservation” it is to be understood that the major portion of the middle class can now be categorised as economically weaker sections, and with this who are left out of the various reserved categories? Probably, the rich and the indefinable upper-middle class. This means 80 to 85 percent of Indians come under some kind of reservation or the other, thereby reducing the chances of the really weaker sections of society who have been left behind for far too long.
Prof. M. Baba Prasad is the Director of the Postgraduate Program at NSoJ.