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Posted at: Feb 12, 2019, 7:16 AM; last updated: Feb 12, 2019, 11:32 AM (IST)

Not granting relaxation in age, attempts to EWS under new quota policy: Centre

Not granting relaxation in age, attempts to EWS under new quota policy: Centre
Photo for representation only. — iStock.

Ananya Panda
Tribune News Service
New Delhi, February 11

The BJP-led Centre has admitted that it is not granting any relaxation in age and attempts in competitive exams under the newly introduced quota for the economically weaker sections (EWS) of the general category leaving lakhs of job aspirants in dismay.

The supposed EWS beneficiaries, who see it as nothing more than a “stunt and design” of the Narendra Modi government ahead of the Lok Sabha elections, have initiated a social media campaign “#EWSJUMLA” demanding the upper age bar be raised to 35 years and nine attempts be provided in Central Government exams, including the UPSC civil service, at par with the Other Backward Castes (OBCs).

Ever since the 10 per cent reservation for financially disadvantaged of the general category was announced last month followed by the Constitution (103rd Amendment) Act coming into effect on January 14, the beneficiaries concerned had been apprehensive.

Their concerns got credence on February 6 with the Department of Personnel and Training’s reply to a civil service aspirant’s grievance seeking clarification on the benefits under the EWS, clearly stating that it is not considering giving “relaxation in age and number of attempts” to EWS candidates under the new reservation policy.

On February 1, a notification of the Staff Selection Commission (SSC)— the first one after the new quota system became effective— for recruitment of Group B Junior Engineers in various Central Government departments and services spelt out no relaxation in age for EWS candidates unlike for the OBCs and other reserved categories.

The said notification allows a relaxation of five years to the candidates of SC/ST and those under the OBC are entitled to three years beyond the upper prescribed age ranging from 27 to 32 years for various government departments.

Nevertheless, the EWS candidates will be offered relaxation in qualifying cut off score— 25 per cent— as that fixed for their OBC counterparts.

The SSC has kept 30 per cent as the minimum qualifying marks for the unreserved section while 20 per cent for other categories, including Scheduled Castes/ Scheduled Tribes (SC/ST) and specially-abled, etc.

With varying set of eligibility parameters, the EWS quota move has left lakhs of job aspirants in the general category feeling hoodwinked.

A disappointed Saurabh Singh, an IAS aspirant from Kanpur, described the 10 per cent quota a political trap.

“With the new EWS step all the people belonging to general category had started favouring the BJP. The government had said that EWS will be treated as OBCs simply,” Saurabh told The Tribune.

Echoing the sentiment, MS Ram from Andhra Pradesh said not providing relaxation in age and attempts to EWS has come as a rude shock to lakhs of job aspirants who had pinned much hopes on the new provision and now feel cheated.

“Poverty, late schooling and completion of higher education owing to financial and other compulsions deprive many, like me, from taking the exams at the right age. I too coming from a village started school late and lost crucial time,” noted Ram, who couldn’t utilise three attempts of the total six available to general category till 32 years in UPSC civil service exams,” Ram told The Tribune.

They viewed that the government brought out the new policy in haste without considering all dimensions and the demands of the actual beneficiaries.

Going by government’s premise for introducing the 10 per cent EWS quota, they must be treated equally and the government should make amends before the UPSC civil services notification slated for February 22, they asserted.

To express their resentment, EWS candidates from across the country are running an online campaign demanding parity in benefits granted to OBCs in age relaxation and attempts in public job exams.

Soon they will be approaching the courts against the “discriminatory set of parameters” for EWS.

The UPSC provides nine attempts to OBCs till 35 years and no bar or about 16 attempts from minimum allowed 22 years to 37 years to SC/ST candidates in civil service exams.

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