The state, which has a long association with reservation issues and provides a high reserve of 69% to backward sections, also has a long history of rejecting quotas based on annual income. Debates that have been going on for decades have come to the fore again with the recent Madras High Court ruling against granting a 10% quota for Economically Weaker Sections (EWS) of Advanced Communities in Medical Admissions and dental under the all-India quota.
The EWS Quota in Jobs and Education was introduced by the Union Government in June 2019. While many BJP-ruled states, Congress and CPM have implemented the provision, Tamil Nadu has not accepted it yet. The state has always been against job reservation and college admission based on economic factors.
In 1979, the AIADMK government led by former Chief Minister M. G. Ramachandran introduced an annual income ceiling of Rs 9,000 to benefit from the reservation for the backward classes, and a quota of 30% was provided to them. After the AIADMK suffered a severe blow in the 1980 Lok Sabha elections, winning only two seats out of 40, MGR removed the “creamy layer” and increased the reservation for the BCs from 30 to 50%.
Interestingly, the previous AIADMK government tried to expand the SAP quota in non-central institutions, but quickly withdrew its decision following strong resistance from other political parties. The DMK even moved the Supreme Court against the EWS quota.
Many affirmative action policies in Tamil Nadu select the beneficiaries not only based on caste and religion, but also of income. For example, the pre-matric scholarship is provided to religious minorities, for backward classes (BC), the most backward classes (MBC) and the ardentified communities (DC). The amount of the scholarship per year varies from RS 200 for MBC and BC to a maximum of RS 10,000 for religious minorities. The criterion of the scholarship also varies: for BC and religious minorities, it is restricted for beneficiaries where parents’ entry is less than RS 1 Lakh. The MBC and DC have no such conditions.
However, in the scholarship policy after registration, religious minorities can receive an annual scholarship of up to 13,800 rupees per year, but the annual income (of all sources) of the beneficiary’s parents should not exceed 2 Lakh of rupees. For BC and MBC, the postmatical scholarship is 500 rupees per year, but the parents’ income limit is stricter: it should not exceed 1 Lakh of rupees.
By virtue of the law of children’s law to free and compulsory education, 25 % of places in non-minority private schools are reserved for disadvantaged groups (DG) and economically weaker sections (EWS). In Tamil Nadu, around 1.08 LKH of seats are reserved and the beneficiaries are provided for free.
For EWS seats, the eligibility criteria in Tamil Nadu is established as an annual family income limit of RS 2 Lakh, which is independent of the community. For disadvantaged groups, communities including BC, MBC, SC, ST and others are included without any explicit mention of an income criterion.
In 2019, Tamil Nadu introduced a horizontal fee of 7.5 percent of seats in admissions (MBBS) of the national eligibility exam input (NEET) for students belonging to public schools and for each category: general category, BC, MBC , SC, St. Indeed, this was beyond mere caste as criteria and included an indirect indicator of household income and expenses. Only those Indians too poor to pay private schools send their children to public schools. This movement created a quota within a quota, with a filter based on income, to reach the poorest within each community and provide them with sufficient representation.
Therefore, within medical admissions and Nini, the Government of Tamil Nadu has already implemented a quota similar to EWS for all communities, including the “general category.”
Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami had said that all “recognized” parties would be consulted on the issue and the government extended an invitation to the “registered” political parties also for the meeting.
Deputy Chief Minister O. Pannereselvam, who presided over the meeting that lasted more than three hours in the secretariat, told reporters: “After consulting again legal experts, the Government will make a favourable decision on the subject.”
Those who participated in the discussion underlined the need to preserve the 69% reserve for the back classes, the most backward classes and the recorded castes/tribes recorded in the state. It was former main minister Jayalithaa who managed to include the ninth annex, said Mr. Pannereterselvam.
Earlier, at the beginning of the discussion, he said that the MCI had sought states proposals on the implementation of the new quota arrangement in admission to undergraduate courses in Medicine without disturbing the existing system. Of 3,500 seats in 25 powers of State Medicine, the 69 % quota is followed with respect to 2,975 seats, after separating 15 % of the seats (525) for the admission of all India. If the State agrees to implement the 10 % quota for EWS, it will obtain 1000 additional seats, of which 850 will be available to it.
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