Economically Weaker Section
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Economically Weaker Section (EWS) in India is a subcategory of people belonging to the General Category having an annual family income less than ₹8 lakhs and who do not belong to any reserved category such as SC/ST/OBC (central list). If an EWS candidate's annual family income is above the prescribed limit, then he/she will be recognized as a candidate from General category and not from EWS category.
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.
The Government of India earlier did not provide any reservations to EWS candidates. There is a significant percentage of the Indian population who belong to the EWS category.
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. A state government is authorized to extend the income limit further for candidates seeking reservation under EWS category in the state-owned colleges and state government's jobs.
People belonging to Economically Weaker Section now get 10% reservation in education and government jobs of India similarly like OBC, SC, ST. There was huge unrest among people which came out in many ways including the form of anti-reservation agitations.
On 7 January 2019, The Union Cabinet had approved 10% reservation in government jobs and educational institutions for the Economically Weaker Section in the General category. It was decided by the cabinet that this would be over and above the existing 50% reservation.
On 12 January 2019, The Economic Weaker Section Reservation Bill Article 15(4) and Article 16(4) which ensures 10% reservations to the poor and lower-middle-class people in upper castes who were denied any kind of affirmative action previously, was cleared by the President of India, Ram Nath Kovind.
The EWS bill was tabled in Lok Sabha, the Lower House of the Indian Parliament on 8 January 2019 and it was passed on the same day [124th Amendment Bill]. The EWS Bill was passed by Rajya Sabha, the Upper House of the Indian Parliament on 9 January. The President approved the Bill on 12 January 2019 and a gazette was released on this bill which turned it into a Law. Gujarat became the first state to enact this law on 14 January 2019.
An NGO 'Youth For Equality' has questioned and challenged the bill in the Apex court on grounds that it breaches the ceiling of 50% reservations set by Supreme Court of India, stating that it fully supports the reservations of the Economically Weaker Section but wants it to be amalgamated with the OBC quota which stands at 27%, thus not breaching the 50% cap set by the Apex Court. Leaders of the Backward classes have also decided to approach the Supreme Court over this issue.
On 25 January 2019, The Supreme Court refused to stay the 10% reservation given to GEN-EWS category in government jobs and educational institutions.
EWS certificate for different purposes
Current definition of Economically Weaker Section
- 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 (EBCs)
Two schemes that are specifically designed for the EBCs and MEBCs are the Post-Matric Scholarship & Interest Subsidy on Educational Loans for overseas Studies.
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