The Modi government’s much-touted 10 percent quota for the Economically Weaker Sections (EWS) for the upper caste may end up being a damp squib for many of its early supporters. Hailed as a masterstroke by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to arrest the disgruntlement of many upper caste voters, the move has ended up disappointing many. It has now been confirmed that the newly-implemented quota will not offer any relaxations in age limit or the number of attempts for a candidate under the 10 percent upper caste reservation.

The Centre, responding to a specific query on relaxation in age and number of attempts, has confirmed that there is no such provision for the relaxations under the current rules. The Centre further informed that no such proposal was under consideration at the moment. Last month, a civil services aspirant wrote to the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) seeking clarification on age and number of attempts under the reservation for upper caste poor.

In a response to the grievance, Deputy Secretary G Srinivasan said: “Presently, no proposal under consideration for providing age relaxation and the number of attempts for EWS candidates under new reservation policy formulated by the government.” His response shattered the expectations of lakhs of UPSC aspirants who were hoping for some relaxation in age and attempts after the new reservation was announced.

In fact, the very first job notification issued by the Staff Selection Commission (SSC) following the implementation of 10 percent EWS quota did not offer any age relaxation. In its recruitment notice for Junior Engineers dated February 1, the Commission has offered age relaxation for other reservation beneficiaries such as OBC and SC/STs but not to EWS candidates.

Dejected and furious, job aspirants are wondering why the government has not extended the benefits that are a genuine extension of reservation benefits. “I fail to understand the possible reasons why there is no age and attempts relaxation which is an ideal and genuine extension of benefit in the reservation. Poverty is the biggest hindrance in our country to complete one’s education on time and to settle down in career and life. In the reservation benefit to the poor, it is rational to provide a cushion of relaxed norms through age and attempts so that all eligible job aspirants can avail the benefit,” UPSC aspirant MS Ram who hails from Andhra Pradesh said.