Skip to main content

Is delinking reservation from the question of social justice not a good idea?

By IMPRI Team 

The IMPRI Centre for Human Dignity and Development, IMPRI Impact and Policy Research Institute, New Delhi, organized a panel discussion on ‘EWS Reservations: Perceptions and Policy’ as a part of the series: The State of Human Dignity and Development- #Inclusive Development on 29th Nov 2022. In this #WebPolicyTalk. Inaugurating the session Ms Nayna Agarwal, Researcher at IMPRI, welcomed the speakers and participants of the Event with an introduction to the eminent panellists.
Dr Ajay Gudavarthy is Associate Professor at the Centre for Political Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, and he’s a well-known political theorist, analyst, and columnist. He’s moderating the panel discussion.
Prof. G Mohan Gopal is a Constitutional Law Expert and Eminent Scholar. He’s a Former Director of the National Judicial Academy of the Supreme Court of India, Former Director (Vice-Chancellor) of the National Law School of India, Bengaluru, and Former Director of Rajiv Gandhi Institute for Contemporary Studies, New Delhi.
Mr T K Arun is a renowned Journalist and Columnist based in Delhi.
Mr Abdul Hafiz Gandhi is a National Spokesperson of the Samajwadi Party.


Dr Ajay Gudavarthy started the discussion with his opening remarks. He welcomed his co-panellists and shared the agreement on the long-term implications of the EWS Reservations policy (policy). He talks about the discussions and mobilization that have been happening after the Janhit Abhiyan v. Union of India judgment (the judgment) and how most constituencies are not ready for this kind of social discourse. He shares his discomfort over the comparison between poverty and caste and how notions are created that poverty is transitory, whereas caste is permanent.
He questions what can be gained through this juxtaposition, as class and caste have gone hand in hand in the context of India. Inter-generational mobility is limited in poverty as well, and the same can’t be completely disregarded. He asks the panellists to share their views on this poverty v/s caste debate that has been created by the ruling party and whether one should fall into this trap than look into the actual issue with this policy. He welcomes Mr Abdul Hafiz Gandhi to share his views as there’s an absence of debate opposition over this matter by the opposition parties.


Mr Abdul Hafiz Gandhi thanked the organizers for including him in the panel and started by quoting Prof. Satish Deshpande– ‘On 9th January 2019, the idea of reservation/anti-discrimination died the day when parliament passed this EWS Reservation Bill in just 3 days. The last rites of anti-discrimination were performed by the Supreme Court on the 7th of November 2022, when it upheld the 103rd Constitutional Amendment providing 10% reservation for EWS’.
According to Mr Hafiz, this policy is for ‘Forward Caste Hindus’ as it excludes SC/ST/OBC communities who constitute the majority of the poorest section the society. So the argument in favour of the policy, that this policy creates an egalitarian society doesn’t stand when the large section of the disadvantageous society is kept outside the realm of this policy. He explains that when the economic ground is made the basis of reservation, then its opportunities are open to everyone. This undermines the very essence of the reservation policy.
He also talks about the poverty v/s caste debate, where he agrees with the fact that poverty is transient, whereas caste is permanent, and it remains even if one gets better off economically. No strong justification has been given for the exclusion of other castes from this policy. Poverty can be treated through other measures, but caste is an intractable problem. Thus, reservation became an important tool for dealing with caste-based inequalities.
He also mentions that delinking reservation from the question of social justice is not a good idea because by excluding the Quota, we provide differential treatment to people. This means everyone will be treated equally, victims as well as perpetrators. He states that he disagrees with the judgment on various counts: The delay of the Court in deciding the matter made the government implement the policy. After implementation, it became difficult to undo the policy, and this might be one of the reasons for the court to decide in favour of it.
Exclusion of SC/ST/OBC from EWS Quota. This policy only addresses the poverty of general caste communities and excludes poverty in other caste communities.
The judgment failed to explain how this policy is suitable for achieving the egalitarian goal. The ceiling limit to get the benefits under this policy is too high (below Rs. 8 lakhs). This could lead to the middle class siphoning off the benefits rather than going to the poorest sections of society.
Justice Bela Trivedi mentions in the judgment that reservations need to be phased out, but doing so won’t eliminate cast inequalities.
Justice J B Pardiwala observed that a large percentage of backward classes had attained an acceptable level of education and employment. Thus they should be removed from the backward class. While stating this, he didn’t provide any empirical evidence to support this claim.


Mr T K Arun mentions that the basic criticism of the judgment is contained in the minority judgment presented by Justice U U Lalit and Justice Ravindra Bhat. Views that are taken by these judges are that policy is discriminatory against the poor among the non-forward caste and thus constitutionally invalid. However, Mr Arun brought forward some broader issues. He talks about using resources to provide quality education instead of using them for reservations.
He explains that limited employment opportunities need to be expanded so that we don’t need to save up the opportunities for the quota. In 75 years of independence, the hierarchical social structure has not been dealt with properly. Power is distributed in society in a very unequal fashion. This creates hurdles in the functioning of the democratic society. The political parties fighting for the justice of backward classes have abandoned them along with the goal of abolishing the caste system. The focus should be on eradicating the caste system and not on whether reservations should be provided.
He states quality primary education is the key. Primary education is universal, and we might not need reservations if the quality of education is at its best. Social, cultural, and political empowerment can be achieved through education. The absence of quality education is a fundamental failure of governance and should be tackled by various political commitments.
He then talks about affirmative action to deal with social stratification and discrimination and questions whether reservation is the only solution to the elimination of this kind of discrimination.
He mentions Kenneth J Arrow’s criteria for the successful design of an affirmative action policy: Policy design shouldn’t kill the imperative to excel, and the design of affirmative action should not reinforce past perceptions of inferiority. So better designs of affirmative action can be constructed, apart from the reservation system. The EWS reservation policy wouldn’t be enough to achieve the goal of equal opportunities. People need to be made part of the system and production process, i.e., Broad-Based Participating in Economic Growth. The goal of eliminating the caste system should be revived.


Prof. G Mohan Gopal states that perceptions of this policy have been deliberately distorted. There’s false advertisement and presentation of this policy, and that needs to be questioned. False reservations are in the following respects:This policy is not for economic reservations for poor sections but for socially and educationally-forward classes with a creamy layer exclusion. Under this policy, one would only have to prove that he/she doesn’t belong to social and educationally backward classes. The policy provides the criteria to assess the economic weakness, but it cuts off the creamy layer. We have a policy for socially and educationally backward classes, but it also cuts off the creamy layer. There’s deception. If the intention was to provide this reservation for socially and educationally forward class, then why the amendment doesn’t mention that the policy provides for economically weaker sections of socially and educationally forward groups? Thus inclusion is hidden.
According to him, the new role of reservation upheld by the Court is a basic structure violation, quite apart from discrimination. In public employment and public and private education, at the micro-level, a 10% reservation for EWS has been included. This will be occupied by the people only belonging to the socially and educationally forward classes. This would lead to the thinking in the minds of people that it’s because of their social forwardness that they have got the benefits. They will prevent social change and this issue couldn’t be raised in any institution because 10% ethnic purity has been sanctioned by the authorities.
He mentions that the real economic reservations are the reservations for SC/ST/OBC because any caste or community can be included as a group in the backward classes. Criteria applied by the National Commission for Backward Classes to decide the groups that will include under backward classes are organized into 4 heads: Social, Educational, Economic, and Political. So backward class reservation is an economic reservation. EWS is caste reservation. Even the upper caste section of society had the option to get a reservation under backward classes. They still have. So there was no need to form another category of reservation.
This has happened because people with strong social-political backgrounds don’t want the representation of the backward classes in the system. This has led to the double reservation for the socially and educationally forward classes as with a social group they can get benefits under backward classes and as an individual, they can get benefits under EWS policy.
He further mentions Article 38(2) which talks about equality not amongst individuals but amongst groups. A policy like EWS Reservation would kill this group equality as now some groups (social and educational forward classes) would be more powerful and over-represented than others (social and educationally backward classes). To create group equality all groups need to be given power equivalent to other and this can be done by providing them representation. The policy is pushing back against this equality which is the goal of the Constitution.
Prof. Mohan explains reservation and its history, quoting Ambedkar- the power shall be shared with all communities in proportion to their population. Adequate representation in the services for all communities is required. The problem that we are facing right now is higher officials are sitting in higher positions in the system to misuse the law for themselves and the backward classes don’t have enough representation in the system.
Therefore the meaning of reservation that Ambedkar talked about was regulating recruitment to public services in such a manner that all communities including the higher classes will have an adequate share in them, proportion to their population. The only issue that is a concern is how to recruit people into public services so that the oligarchy/monopoly can be destroyed and we could create a representative state. The basic structure of the constitution is violated by taking away the idea of a representative state and putting a capsule of upper-caste apartheid inside the state.


Closing the panel discussion, Dr. Ajay gave his concluding remarks and thanked all the eminent panelists. He mentioned that many more questions needs to be answered on this matter and thanked Prof. Mohan for providing a new perspective on the policy. He complimented the entire NIDM and IMPRI Impact and Policy Research Institute team on the successful conduction of the training program. The conference ended with a vote of thanks by Nayna Agarwal.
Acknowledgement: Eva Chauhan, research intern at IMPRI



Clive Lloyd among great batsmen Alan Border, Javed Miandad, Rahul Dravid,Ted Dexter

By Harsh Thakor  Few batsmen struck a cricket ball with such vengeance or contempt as Clive Lloyd, who was the ultimate embodiment of power. Perhaps no left-hander batted more like Gary Sobers. Hard to think of any left hander in is time, with such wide range of strokes or at best batting in a more cavalier or imperious manner. At his best Clive could take domination to the scale rarely transcended and was a spectacle to witness.. It is hard to do justice to the joy Clive radiated out on the middle. Clive Lloyd nurtured and knitted a bunch of talented individuals to transform into possibly the best test team ever in the 1980's.Literally led a renaissance or gave a new dimension to Caribbean cricket. Never did West Indian cricket nurture such father figure.  Clive made a great contribution in elevating the morale or epitomising the spirit of the Afro-American West Indian Community and image of black people in the eyes of the white Community. As a cricketer he gave the ultimate knock

Vishwanath has been unfairly excluded from global list of 100 best cricketers

By Harsh Thakor  Gundappa Vishwanath scaled zones in batting artistry or wizardry unparalleled amongst Indian batsmen. The best of his batting was a manifestation of the divine. He was also the epitome of cricketing sportsmanship. Sadly 40 years ago he unceremoniously bid farewell to the International cricket world, after the concluding test at Karachi in 1982-83., in January end. Very hard to visualise a character like Vishwanath being reborn today His memories are embedded in cricket lovers today when sportsmanship and grace have virtually been relegated to oblivion with the game of cricket turned into a commercial commodity. Today agro and unsporting behaviour is a routine feature Vishy shimmered cricket’s spirituality. His behaviour on the cricket field was grace personified, No one in his age defined cricket more as a gentleman’s game, than Vishy. Vishwanath could execute strokes that were surreal with his steel wrists. His strokeplay resembled the touches of a painter’s brush,

Abrogation of Art 370: Increasing alienation, relentless repression, simmering conflict

One year after the abrogation by the Central Government of Art. 370 in Kashmir, what is the situation in the Valley. Have the promises of peace, normalcy and development been realised? What is the current status in the Valley? Here is a detailed note by the People’s Union for Civil Liberties , “Jammu & Kashmir: One Year after Abrogation of Art. 370: Increasing Alienation, Relentless Repression, Simmering Conflict”:

Reproductive, conjugal rights of women in India amidst debate of uniform civil code

By IMPRI Team  A Three-Day Immersive Online Legal Awareness and Certificate Training Course on “Reproductive and Conjugal Rights of Women in India” is an initiative of the Gender Impact Studies Center (GISC), at the IMPRI Impact and Policy Research Institute, New Delhi, and ran for three consecutive days starting from December 22, 2022 to December 24, 2022. The online paid certification was aimed to provide attendees with an enriching experience on the gender discourse with a special focus on women’s rights and the much-discussed reproductive rights in India.

Covid jabs: Pretexts cited to justify young, healthy succumbing to heart attacks

By Jay Ihsan   Truth is stranger than fiction – when dedicated doctors raised the red flag against the mRNA Covid-19 vaccines, they were persecuted and their concerns barred from being heard. These honest doctors unequivocally made it known the Moderna Pfizer vaccines injure the heart and human body. One of them, Dr Peter McCullough, an American cardiologist, has repeatedly issued the clarion call to people to reject these harmful vaccines. An equally alarmed World Council for Health said the harmful Covid-19 vaccines should be removed from the market and the global inoculation must be stopped. “In Japan the vaccines were not mandated or made compulsory. The vaccines are not safe or effective enough to mandate them. The day the vaccines go away will be a day of celebration,” Dr Mccullough had lamented during an interview with India’s media outfit, Qvive several months ago. Meanwhile, the number of people jabbed with the Covid-19 mRNA vaccines died soon after or have developed lifelong

Gender gap 17%, SC and ST levels of education between 7% to 14% below upper classes

By IMPRI Team  The treatment of school education in a holistic manner and improving school effectiveness in terms of equal opportunities for schooling and learning outcomes has been the aspiration of all and multiple challenges are faced to maintain and provide proper education. On the occasion of India@75: Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav, as part of its series- the State of Education- #EducationDialogue, #IMPRI Center for ICT for Development (CICTD), IMPRI Impact and Policy Research Institute, New Delhi organised a special deliberation on The State of School Education In India with Prof Muchkund Dubey, who is the President of the Council for Social Development, New Delhi. The moderator for the event, Dr Simi Mehta CEO and Editorial Director of the IMPRI. The chair of the event was Prof Jandhyala B.G. Tilak, an Indian Council of Social Science Research (ICSSR) National Fellow, the Distinguished Professor at the Council for Social Development, New Delhi and also a Former Professor & Vice-Ch

Rahul Dravid exhibited selflessness in heights unscaled by any other Indian batsman

By Harsh Thakor*  On January 11th maestro Rahul Dravid turned 50. No Indian batsmen were ever more of an embodiment of temperament or Rahul Dravid. Dravid was the best ambassador of sportsmanship in cricket in his day and age. In his time no Asian batsmen did what the doctor ordered, to the extent of Dravid. Dravid was manifestation of single-mindedess, tenacity and selflessness in sport. One hardly has an adjective to the ice coolness and craft Dravid exhibited in adjusting to the given situation. Rarely did any batsmen exhibit such a clinical o methodical approach to batting.

NHRC blindly followed BSF status report on fencing farmland off Indo-Bangladesh border

Kirity Roy, Secretary, Banglar Manabadhikar Suraksha Mancha (MASUM) writes an open letter of protest against the action taken status report on restriction imposed by the BSF personnel upon the villagers of Changmari near Indo-Bangladesh border: *** I have the honour to inform you that we received one action taken status report dated 11.01.2023 from your Commission in respect of the above referred case from where it is revealed that your authority closed the case based on the report of the concerned authorities. In this connection I again raise my voice as the enquiry in respect of the above referred case was not properly conducted. Hence I submit this open letter of protest for the ends of justice. From the action taken status report of the Commission dated 11.01.2023 it is reported that concerned authority submitted a report dated 18.01.2022 where it is reported that the concerned area comes under the OPS responsibility of BOP Chengmari, 62 Bn BSF and is highly susceptible to trans-bo

Data analytics: How scientific enquiry process impacts quality of policy research

By IMPRI Team  Given the multidimensionality of policy and impact research, tech-driven policy prescriptions are playing a dominant role in the 21st century. As such, data analytics have become integral in this space. IMPRI Generation Alpha Data Centre (GenAlphaDC) , IMPRI Impact and Policy Research Institute New Delhi has successfully conducted a #WebPolicyTalk 6-Week Immersive Online Hands-on Certificate Training Course on Data Analytics for Policy Research, spanning over 6-consecutive Saturdays from October 15th to November 19th, 2022. Along with this, datasets for hands-on learning were also provided for data analysis and learning. Participants were required to make a submission for evaluation at the end of the course, to obtain the certificate. This course comprised hands-on data learning sessions and various expert sessions on data discourses. The course especially catered to data and policy enthusiasts – including students, professionals, researchers, and other individuals lo

Brutal assault on Delhi Univ students as fear grips present rulers on rise of dissent

By Arhaan Baaghi  Various democratic student organizations (bsCEM, fraternity, DSU, SIO, AIRSO) had planned a screening of the BBC documentary "India: The Modi Question" in the Delhi University Arts Faculty, but the guards of the university and the Delhi police along with paramilitary forcefully detained the students just because we were trying to watch a documentary that scrutinizes the role of Modi in 2002 Gujarat riots. At first when the students started screening the documentary, the electricity of the department building was cut down. Students were brutally beaten by the police and university guards. Female students were also brutally manhandled and beaten. This whole incident shows the Brahmanical Hindutva fascist nature of the government and the university authority that is working as its puppet. An activist of bsCEM was manhandled by a male security guard, who tried to pull out his T shirt. Also various female activist were dragged by male security guards and their h