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Bihar Reservation Bill
The Bihar Reservation Bill, aimed at increasing the scope of reservations in the state, has taken center stage. The proposed bill, which has gained approval from the Nitish Kumar government, is set to bring significant changes to the existing reservation system in Bihar. This move is based on the findings of the Bihar Caste Survey report, indicating the need to accommodate a larger section of the population within the reservation framework.
Bihar Reservation Bill: Previous & Proposed Quota
The key provisions of the Bihar Reservation Bill are as follows:
- OBCs: The bill seeks to allocate 18% reservation to Other Backward Classes (OBCs), acknowledging their socio-economic challenges.
- EBCs: Extremely Backward Classes (EBCs) are proposed to receive a substantial 25% reservation, reflecting their marginalized status.
- SC and ST: Scheduled Castes (SC) and Scheduled Tribes (ST) are designated to receive 20% and 2% reservations, respectively, recognizing their historical disadvantages.
- EWS Quota: In addition to these provisions, the bill maintains the existing 10% reservation for Economically Weaker Sections (EWS), ensuring continued support for this group.
A Significant Increase in Reservation
The Bihar government is aiming to augment the existing reservation percentages by 15%, based on the caste census report. The current reservation system, which includes categories such as OBC, EBC, SC, ST, and EWS, will see an increase from 50% to 65%. This expansion is in line with the government’s commitment to social justice and inclusive development.
The State Cabinet’s Decision
After Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar expressed his support for increasing reservations post the Bihar caste survey report’s release, the state cabinet swiftly approved the proposal. The decision, made on Tuesday, pushes the reservation limits from 60% (including 10% for EWS) to a remarkable 75%. Subsequently, a reservation bill was introduced in the ongoing Assembly session.
The Bihar government is now set to present the reservation bill in the Assembly, following the adjournment of proceedings until 2 pm. Once the House reconvenes after lunch, the bill will be presented, and the legislative process will begin.
Financial Aid for the Underprivileged
In a move to address economic disparities, the state cabinet has also decided to provide financial assistance to disadvantaged communities. This includes a financial aid of Rs 2 lakh to each of the 94 lakh poor families with a monthly income of less than Rs 6,000 for a duration of five years. Additionally, one-time financial support of Rs 1 lakh will be offered to 67 lakh landless families to help them build homes. These initiatives are expected to put an additional burden of Rs 50,000 crore per year on the state exchequer.
The Caste Survey Report
Bihar is most densely populated state in India. As per Bihar Caste Survey report, there are more than 131 million people (Approx. 13 crores) living in the state overall. The report also revealed that 27.1 percent of the population is from the backward classes, while 36 percent are from the extremely backward classes (EBC), 19.7 percent are from Scheduled Castes, and only 1.7 percent are from Scheduled Tribe.
Legal Challenges and Hurdles
The move to increase reservations to 75% in Bihar is not without its legal complexities. The Supreme Court, in the famous Indra Sawhney & Others v. Union of India case, has established that reservations should not exceed 50% unless exceptional circumstances can be demonstrated. Currently, Tamil Nadu is the only state with a 69% reservation, citing unique reasons. Thus, increasing reservation limits in Bihar could pose challenges for both the Nitish Kumar government and the Modi government at the Center.
Bihar BJP’s Support
The Bihar BJP has expressed its support for the reservation bill proposed by the Nitish Kumar government. With this backing, there is a strong possibility of the bill passing with a majority in both the Houses of the Assembly and Legislative Council. Following its passage, the proposal to enhance reservation quotas will be forwarded to the Central government for consideration.
The Bihar Reservation Bill, designed to increase reservations to 75%, reflects the state’s commitment to addressing social and economic disparities. The bill’s provisions cater to OBCs, EBCs, SC, ST, and EWS, acknowledging the unique challenges faced by each group. While legal challenges may arise, the support of the Bihar BJP indicates a promising future for this crucial legislation. The bill’s passage has the potential to usher in a more inclusive and equitable Bihar, in line with the findings of the Bihar Caste Survey report.
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