Economically Weaker Section
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Economically Weaker Section (EWS) or Economically Backward Classes(EBC) in India is a subcategory of people belonging to the General Category having an annual family income less than ₹8 lakh (US$11,000) and who do not belong to any category such as SC/ST/OBC across India, nor to MBC in Tamil Nadu. A candidate who does not fall under castes recognised as within one of the aforementioned categories and their annual family income is below the prescribed limit of ₹8 lakh by the Government of India (or as prescribed by state government in the respective states), then they would be recognised to be part of the EWS category.
On 7 January 2019, Union Council of Ministers approved a 10% reservation in government jobs and educational institutions for the Economically Weaker Section (EWS) in the General category. The cabinet decided that this would be over and above the existing 50% reservation for SC/ST/OBC categories.
On 8 January 2019, The Constitution (One Hundred and Twenty-fourth Amendment) Bill, 2019 was tabled in the Lok Sabha, the lower house of the Parliament of India and it was passed on the same day. The bill was passed by the upper house Rajya Sabha on 9 January. President Ram Nath Kovind gave assent to the bill on 12 January 2019 and a gazette was released on the bill, which turned it into law. Coming into force on 14 January 2019, the One Hundred and Third Amendment of the Constitution of India amended articles 15(6) and 16(6) of the Constitution of India to permit 10% reservations to the EWS category. A number of state cabinets approved the law and announced their intention to implement the 10% EWS reservations.
On 10 January 2019, Youth For Equality, an NGO that opposes caste-based policies, challenged the proposed amendment at the Supreme Court of India on grounds that it breaches the 50% reservations ceiling set by the same court; the group said it fully supports EWS reservations but wants this to be done by converting the existing 27% OBC quota into an economic means-tested non-caste-based quota instead, thus staying within the 50% cap set by the apex court. Conversely, leaders of Backward Classes welfare groups also approached the Supreme Court, opposing reservations for EWS groups altogether, arguing that EWS groups did not meet the reservations criteria that the same court had specified in an earlier case.
On 25 January 2019, the Supreme Court refused to stay the 10% reservation given to GEN-EWS category in government jobs and educational institutions. On 6 August 2020, the court decided that a 5-member bench would hear the case.
The Union Government of India tabled the Constitution (One Hundred And Twenty-Fourth Amendment) Bill, 2019 which provided 10% additional quota for the EWS students amongst the erstwhile Unreserved category or General category students.
The terms Economically Weaker Section (EWS) and Economically Backward Class (EBC) are not meant to be confused with each other in India. The definition of EWS has been defined by the Government of India whereas the definition of EBC and Most Economically Backward Class (MEBC) vary in different states as well as institutions.
There is no official figure for the percentage of the Indian population who belong to the EWS category, but they were given 10 percent reservation.
The eligibility to get the EWS certificate is not only purely based on annual family income but also based on the held property. The income limit has been set by the central government for admission to central government-owned colleges and jobs offered by the central government. State governments are given the authority to change the eligibility criteria and also to extend the income limit further for candidates seeking reservation under EWS category which will be valid only in state-owned colleges and state government's jobs as deemed fit for the respective states.
People belonging to Economically Weaker Section since 1 February 2019 now get 10% reservation in education and government jobs of India (vartical reservations) similar to OBC, SC, ST. There was huge unrest among people which came out in many ways including the form of anti-reservation agitations.
Effect on agitations
This reservation weakened the pace of many reservation agitations such as the Jat reservation moment, Patidar reservation movement and Kapu reservation movement. Aspirants from the EWS category are not fully satisfied with this reservation because it does not include many benefits like age relaxation, fee relaxation, post metric scholarship and house criteria from the very beginning. When the detailed notification of EWS reservation was announced by DoPT, candidates started their protest at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi.
Current definition of Economically Weaker Section
The definition of Family in EWS reservation means:-"The person who seeks benefit of reservation, his/her parents and siblings below the age of 18 years as also his/her spouse and children below the age of 18 years".
- Candidate's annual family income must be less than Rs. 8 lakhs per annum.
- His family must not own more than 5 acres of agriculture land.
- The residential flat area should be below 1000 sq ft.
- The residential plot's area should be below 100 square yards if in a notified municipality sector.
- The residential plot's area should be below 200 square yards if in a non-notified municipality sector.
Schemes for the Economically Backward Classes
Two schemes that are specifically designed for the EBCs and MEBCs are the Post-Matric Scholarship & Interest Subsidy on Educational Loans for overseas Studies.they are
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