New Delhi: The Karnataka state government has set up a Brahmin Development Board and asked all deputy commissioners to issue caste certificates to Brahmins.
M.L. Varalakshmi, under-secretary to the revenue department, has issued a communication to all DCs asking for certificates are issued to Brahmins to reap benefits of the Economically Weaker Sections (EWS) quota introduced by the Narendra Modi government. The decision brought “upper”-caste Indians into the reservation policy.
This decision to set up a separate board and the subsequent order to all DCs came following reports of some tehsildars refusing to issue caste and income certificates to Brahmins eligible under the EWS quota.
The Union government, last year, had introduced a 10% reservation for the economically weaker savarnas into educational institutions and employment. As per the notification issued by the Department of Personnel and Training on January 19, 2019, persons whose family has a gross annual income below Rs 8 lakh are identified as those belonging to the “economically weaker section”. The 10% reservation law was enacted to promote the “welfare of the poor” not covered by the 50% reservation policy for the Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and Other Backward Classes (OBCs). In other words, this quota was specifically introduced to cover the upper caste communities.
According to a report in the New Indian Express, the revenue department has announced certain eligibility criteria to get the certificates. While the 10% EWS law covers all savarna castes, the Karnataka government has set up a board exclusively to cater to the interests of the Brahmin community.
Until earlier this year, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu governments had not implemented the EWS reservation in their respective states. A petition was moved before the Supreme Court against the two states for not implementing the EWS law. The Centre, in its response, had said that it would be the states’ prerogative to provide 10% economic reservation in government jobs and admission to educational institutions.
“Whether or not to provide reservation to the economically weaker section in appointment to State government jobs and admission to State government educational institutions, as per provisions of the newly inserted Articles 15(6) and 16(6) of the Constitution is to be decided by the State government concerned,” the Centre had said in an affidavit filed before the apex court.
Soon after the law was enacted, several states had immediately made provisions to accommodate savarnas in the 10% into the reservation policy. Gujarat was one of the first states to make necessary provisions.
Petitions have been moved before the Supreme Court stating that “backwardness” for the purpose of reservation cannot be defined by “economic status alone”.