Critics say that having such a low cut-off for upper caste candidates while SC candidates have the same cut-off as general category, goes against the very reasoning behind reservation.

The controversy over low cut-off for poor upper castes in SBI exam in TN
news Reservation Friday, July 26, 2019 - 14:23

The controversial Economically Weaker Section reservation brought in by the Union government has set off its first storm during implementation in Tamil Nadu. In the preliminary exam for the recruitment of bank clerks for SBI, the cut-off for poor upper castes – the EWS category – is 28.5, which is less than half the cut-off for SC and OBC candidates. Even more contentiously, the cut-off for SC and OBC reservation candidates is the same as General category candidates, at 61.25 marks. For ST candidates, the cut-off is 53.75 marks.

The examination is meant to select 8,000 Junior associates for SBI. EWS is a subcategory of the General Category, where the candidate’s annual family income is less than Rs 8 lakh. A constitutional amendment passed this year, made them eligible for a 10% quota in government colleges and jobs. With the quota being optional, Tamil Nadu has chosen not to incorporate it into the existing reservation system in the state. The SBI however is controlled by the Centre.

The basis for reservations in India is affirmative action – to ensure the representation for historically marginalised sections in all walks of life. Usually, people from reserved categories who clear the General category cut-off are given admission outside of quota to ensure that more marginalised students get a chance at education and employment. But in this scenario, this doesn’t seem to be the case, say critics.

In a Facebook post against the EWS quota, DMK President MK Stalin has said, “The 10% EWS quota for the upper castes will deprive youth from the SC, ST and OBC communities from employment in Central government and public sector institutions.”

State Secretary of CPI, R Mutharasan has meanwhile alleged that the quota is “a ploy by the Centre to dilute reservations for the marginalised.”

Suriya*, a candidate belonging to the SC community, recently cleared his SBI clerical exam by scoring 70 marks, way above the cut-off set for the SC category. He alleges that decision on the EWS quota cut-off marks lack logic.

“Yes, for EWS they could have a lowered cut-off but not too low like now. It makes sense to keep EWS cut-off on par with SC or ST cut-off. But 28.5 marks is extremely low. There are many people from other categories whose annual income is lesser than the Rs 8 lakh limit of EWS quota. What happens to them?” he asks.

His angst was shared by several others on social media who even claimed that having the same cut-off marks for the candidates from SC, OBC and General categories defeated the purpose of reservation.

“To actually achieve the purpose of reservation we have in Tamil Nadu, SBI should have increased the cut-off marks for General category so that they could reduce the number of people writing the Mains exam. They could have also reduced the cut-off marks for OBC and SC so that there would have been much more candidates from marginalised communities competing for Mains,” Surya argues.

Applicants unprepared?

Speaking to TNM, educationist and career counsellor Jayaprakash Gandhi points out that the SBI did not spread enough awareness on the EWS quota before taking in application.

"The issue is with SBI’s system. I don’t think it made proper announcement regarding the EWS cut off before the examination and that is why students didn’t bother to apply under EWS quota," he says. "I think they should come out with some solution to make sure that there is balance in the next stage at least. A new process has come (EWS) which has not been understood by the students. My take on this is that there should not be any discrimination and hence they (SBI) must come out with a plan to settle the issue," he adds.

A source in the Tamil Nadu SBI tells TNM that the head office in Mumbai is likely to issue a clarification on the matter on Friday.

“As far as the cut off is concerned, the score was set for the EWS category based on the number of candidates, vacancies and performance. There is nothing irregular about this. This is how it is done for other communities as well. However, matters will be clarified further by the head office,” he says.

However, the Tamil Nadu BJP dismisses the allegations.

“Have any of these people ever questioned the cut off before now? This is a political gimmick, “ says BJP spokesperson Narayanan, “You cannot question how they arrived at such calculations. After the main exams are over there maybe a clarification. How do you expect an organisation to come out and explain everything? I don't know."

 

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