EWS are well represented in Higher education
Context- SC upheld EWS reservation by 3-2 majority in Janhit Abhiyan Case(2022)
103rd Constitutional Amendment Act had inserted Articles 15(6) and 16(6) in the constitution to provide up to 10% reservation to economically weaker sections(EWS) other than among backward classes, SCs and STs in higher educational institutions(15(6)) and government jobs(16(6)).
(Credits- SCO Observer)
EWS representation in Higher Education Institutions(HEIs)
- For analysis, NIRF rankings are used. Representation in 457 HEIs in 2019(Before EWS Amendment) and 528 HEIs in 2022 are compared.
- In NIRF data, Economically backward students are treated as a separate category from socially backward categories.
- Surprisingly, the proportion of EWS students declined from 19%(2019) to 15%(2022),but, it remains well above 10%.
- Share of EWS students in 218 public higher education institutions and 239 private institutions-
19% and 20% respectively(2019)
17% and 13% respectively(2022)
Which is above 10%
- Within public institutions, the share of EWS students in centrally funded elite institutions such as the IITs and IIMs was 21% in 2019 and 16% in 2022.
- Thus, it is clear that the share of EWS from general category in HEIs is well above 10%
- According to majority opinion in Janhit Abhiyan Case, the EWS reservation in education is consistent with the socialist goals set out in the Preamble and Directive Principles in Part IV Of the constitution
- According to minority opinion, EWS reservation can be provided in education because the purpose of reservation in HEIs is to ensure equal opportunity, not to ensure representation.
Way Forward- As the minority opinion of Supreme Court in Janhit Abhiyan Case(2022) has highlighted that the purpose of reservation in HEIs is to provide equal opportunity , not to ensure representation, hence , criticism if any, should also take into account the issue of equal opportunity and not just representation.
Syllabus- Prelims and Mains: GS-2, Fundamental Rights