Why amendment for NO Reservation!

Readers might remember 28th of February 2019, when a message reached each and every ear of the valley, taking a perception of abrogation of Article 35A along with it. I also received such a message in my inbox which read: “The Union Cabinet, chaired by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi has approved the proposal of Jammu & Kashmir Government to issue ‘The Jammu and Kashmir Reservation (Amendment) Ordinance, 2019′ by the President of India.” One of the reasons stated in the background for this ordinance was the “implementation of 10% reservation for economically weaker sections (EWS) in J&K”. It was believed that EWS reservation would pave the way for reserving State Government jobs to the youth of J&K who are from economically weaker sections belonging to any religion or caste. It may be recalled that 10% reservation to economically weaker sections was introduced in rest of the country through the 103rd Constitution Amendment in January 2019. This is in addition to such reservation available in Govt. of India jobs also. But unfortunately, many candidates from Jammu and Kashmir applying for UGC-NET June 2019 Exam are worried because of the difficulties they face while trying to submit their online applications.

10% EWS Reservation in UGC-NET JUNE 2019:

National Testing Agency has been conducting NET – JRF Exam since December 2019 for which the merit is calculated at National Level. Thousands of students apply for this exam from J&K as well, making them eligible either to apply for Assistant Professorship or Junior Research Fellowship. The test also exempts them from Ph.D. Entrance Tests in many Universities.

After the 103rd Constitution Amendment in January 2019, a public notice was issued by National Testing Agency on 01.03.2019 for the information and appropriate action by all concerned candidates regarding identification of candidates belonging to EWS category from amongst the candidates of UGC-NET JUNE 2019. “The Candidates of UGC-NET JUNE 2019 Examination, who come under EWS category as per the Certificate issued by the Competent Authority, may mention such category in the Online Application Form”, reads the NTA’s public notice.

NO Reservation for J&K Applicants

Many students have approached me either personally or telephonically and asked whether they should apply under Economically Weaker Sections category or not? They are not eligible because of several reasons including the following:

1.            Even if the Union Cabinet approved the proposal of J&K Government to issue ‘The Jammu and Kashmir Reservation (Amendment) Ordinance, 2019′ by the President of India, but no such implementation of 10% EWS reservation has taken place in real sense in J&K. No one in Kashmir Valley has got the EWS Certificate as the competent authorities themselves seem to be confused and are waiting for the departmental guidelines in this regard.

2.            Criteria for issuance of EWS Certificate as given under DoPT (GOI) Office Memorandum No. 36039/1/2019-Estt(Res) Dated 31st January, 2019 clearly says that “persons who are not covered under the scheme of reservation for SCs, STs and OBCs and whose family has gross annual income below Rs 8.00 lakh (Rupees eight lakh only) are to be identified as EWSs for benefit of reservation. Income shall also include income from all sources i.e. salary, agriculture, business, profession, etc. for the financial year prior to the year of application. Also persons whose family owns or possesses any of the following assets shall be excluded from being identified as EWS, irrespective of the family income:-

i.              5 acres of agricultural land and above;

ii.             Residential flat of 1000 sq ft. and above;

iii.            Residential plot of 100 sq. yards and above in notified municipalities;

iv.           Residential, plot of 200 sq. yards and above in areas other than the notified municipalities.

The property held by a “Family” in different locations or different places/cities would be clubbed while applying the land or property holding test to determine EWS status”.

Since, the people living in J&K prefer to build their houses with huge plinth area, normally larger than 1000 sft, and their residential plots are not limited to 100 or 200 sq. yards, so even if a family belongs to below poverty line with meager gross annual income of 1 to 2 lacs, they will not be provided the EWS Reservation Certificate on the basis of these central guidelines.

Conclusion:

For the sake of reservations on All India Basis, it could be considered a good decision if candidates from J&K are benefited under 10% reservation for economically weaker sections (EWS), but, when the system does not help the youth of J&K to avail this reservation in a prestigious exam like UGC-NET, how could His Excellency, The Hon’ble Governor of J&K, claim this reservation to be beneficial for the youth of J&K?

I talked to some activists, Secretary Department of Social Welfare, some media personnel, PS to Advisors, and faxed/mailed to the Governor and His Advisors, but except the Governor everybody seemed to be confused or unaware about the issue. Secretary Department of Social Welfare is bound to help the candidates in this regard but unfortunately our bureaucracy is quite sleeping for such matters of genuine concern in J&K. Many students have applied under Open Category which will definitely affect them when they come to know about this problem.

Although the Governor of J&K, has assured of swift action in this regard within one or two working days but I am still worried about these candidates from J&K because even if a guideline/notification/circular comes in this regard from the appropriate Government, still it will be difficult for the candidates to obtain the EWS Reservation Certificate before the last date of UGC-NET June 2019 application forms i.e. 30th of March 2019. The time is now for the Government to wake up… and help these candidates by getting the last date of UGC-NET applications extended, change the criteria for issuance of these certificates in J&K and issue the EWS certificates to deserving candidates OR answer the youth that why The Jammu and Kashmir Reservation (Amendment) Ordinance, 2019 was passed for NO reservation? 

(The author is Chairman J&K RTI Foundation)