Most EWS beneficiaries from families with below Rs 5 lakh income

The bulk of beneficiaries of reservations for economically weaker sections are from families with less than Rs 5 lakh annual income, internal government assessments show. The income ceiling of Rs 8 lakh fixed for EWS quota had recently come for legal scrutiny.

Neet 2020 data showed that 91% of students under EWS quota had an annual family income below Rs 5 lakh and 71% students were from families with an annual income of less than Rs 2 lakh per annum. JEE 2020 data showed almost 95% EWS quota beneficiaries in engineering institutes were from families with income of below Rs 5-6 lakh per annum.

A similar trend has been observed in UPSC data on governmental jobs, officials said. Well over a lakh admissions have been done under the EWS quota since 2019 across 158 central educational institutes including central universities, IITs, IIMs, IISERs etc.

The Centre had last month set up a three-member committee with Ajay Bhushan Pandey, VK Malhotra and Sanjeev Sanyal to examine parameters of the EWS quota, including ceiling of Rs 8 lakh, following the nudge of the Supreme Court which is hearing a case that has challenged the income ceiling. The government data set on EWS implementation has been shared with the panel which is expected to submit its report by month end. SC is set to hear the case early next month.

The Centre brought in the Constitution (One Hundred and Twenty-fourth Amendment) Bill, 2019, allowing for the 10% EWS quota in education institutes and government employment in January 2019, just ahead of Lok Sabha elections.

The Centre has defended the Rs 8 lakh annual income criteria, citing the still undisclosed Sinho Commission report which specifically mentioned that the income criteria used to determine the OBC creamy layer “could well serve as to decide the upper limit” for identifying the EWS among general category.

It also said this was not arbitrary and was arrived at after taking into consideration “diverse economic factors in different states as also the diverse economic status between rural and urban areas and fixed after taking into consideration the test for determination of creamy layer”. The Centre also pointed to the petitioner’s vague assertions and its possible “far reaching and serious consequences on several employment and admissions already done and in the pipeline”.

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