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Activists slam the curious case of low cut-off marks for EWS candidates in civil services examination


CHENNAI: The 10 per cent reservation for the Economically Weaker Sections in the civil services examination conducted in 2019 has triggered a controversy after it came to light that the cut-off mark for the EWS quota was lower than that for OBC quota. While social activists rue the development as the EWS quota system is still under the scrutiny of the Supreme Court, BJP leaders say the cut-off marks will go up in the next two years for EWS, when more people avail the reservation.  The 27 per cent reservation for OBC candidates was introduced in 1990, based on the recommendations of the Mandal Commission. It was extended to civil services in 1995, and higher education institutions in 2007. The OBC quota faced serious legal scrutiny. Finally, in a landmark judgment in 1992, the apex court upheld the reservation. “The quota was extended to government departments only after it was upheld by the apex court, which studied the backwardness of the said communities with data presented in the Mandal Commission report,” says E Muralidharan, social activist and an alumnus of IIT Madras.

         “But, the case of EWS reservation, which is yet to be supported with any scientific data by the Centre, was passed in 2019 and is being implemented in a hasty manner.” The civil service examination 2019 was conducted by the UPSC for filling 927 vacancies, and it has recommended 829 candidates for IAS, IPS, IFS and other posts. Among them, 78 candidates were chosen through the EWS quota.  The qualifying mark in the preliminary exam for EWS was 90. For OBC it was 95. Similarly, the cut-off mark for EWS was 696 for the main examination, which was the lowest among all the categories including SC/ST. The OBC, SC and ST candidates had to score 718, 706 and 699 respectively to pass the main examination. The final cut-off score for EWS to get posted in civil service jobs was 909, while it was 925 for OBC.

“Thousands of OBC candidates who scored between 90 and 94.5 may have been eliminated in the preliminary exam itself, while EWS candidates who scored 90 got qualified for the main exams. For every one mark, thousands of candidates will get disqualified,” says Arun Kumar, faculty member at the Shankar IAS Academy.  Narayanan Thirupathy, a spokesperson for the State BJP unit denied the allegation that the EWS quota was hurriedly implemented by the Centre. “The quota was introduced last year after a detailed discussion with all political parties. Since it was recently introduced, a majority of beneficiaries are yet to get the EWS certificates,” he said adding that the issue was being politicised unnecessarily.  When more people participate in the exams under the EWS quota in the next two years, the qualifying marks will rise on par with the open-category candidates, he said.



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