Cong manifesto: Raising 50% quota cap, right to apprenticeship among guarantees | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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Cong manifesto: Raising 50% quota cap, right to apprenticeship among guarantees

Apr 05, 2024 04:42 PM IST

The manifesto said Congress has been the most vocal and active champion of the progress of the backward and oppressed classes and castes

A constitutional amendment to raise the 50% cap on the Scheduled Caste (SC), Scheduled Tribe (ST), and Other Backward Class (OBC) quota and a new Right to Apprenticeship Act are among the guarantees listed in the Congress’s manifesto released on Friday ahead of the April-June Lok Sabha polls.

The manifesto said no progressive modern society should tolerate inequality or discrimination. (HT PHOTO)
The manifesto said no progressive modern society should tolerate inequality or discrimination. (HT PHOTO)

The party pledged to enact a law to provide reservations in private educational institutions for these communities as well as a nationwide census to enumerate the castes and sub-castes and their socio-economic conditions. “Based on the data, we will strengthen the agenda for affirmative action,” the manifesto said.

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The manifesto underlined that OBC, SC, and ST constitute nearly 70% of India’s population, but their representation in high-ranking professions, services, and businesses is disproportionately low. “The people belonging to the SC, ST, and OBC communities have not yet been able to catch up with the rest and are still left behind,” said the manifesto. “No progressive modern society should tolerate such inequality or discrimination based on ancestry and the consequent denial of equal opportunity.”

The manifesto said Congress has been the most vocal and active champion of the progress of the backward and oppressed classes and castes but discrimination remains a reality.

The promise for raising the 50% cap on quota as part of addressing the discrimination comes even as a challenge to the Tamil Nadu law providing 69% reservation remains pending before the Supreme Court. The law was included in the Constitution’s Ninth Schedule, which has ensured a limited scope of judicial review.

The Supreme Court set the cap in the Indra Sawhney ruling in 1992. A five-judge bench in 2021 endorsed it as it quashed a 2018 Maharashtra law for reservation to Marathas in jobs and educational institutions.

Years after 26-year-old University of Hyderabad PhD student Rohith Vemula’s suicide in 2016 triggered a wave of nationwide protests against caste discrimination, the Congress said it will enact the Rohith Vemula Act to address discrimination faced by students belonging to the backward and oppressed communities in educational institutions.

The Congress promised to bridge historical inequities by also enhancing institutional credit to SC and ST for home-building, starting businesses, and purchasing assets. It pledged to establish an authority to monitor the distribution to the poor of government land and surplus land.

The Congress pledged to expand the scope of the Public Procurement Policy to award more public works contracts to contractors belonging to the SC and ST communities. “Funds for scholarships for OBC, SC, and ST students will be doubled, especially for higher education. We will aid SC and ST students to study abroad; and will double the number of scholarships for them to pursue a PhD.”

The party promised to establish a network of residential schools for the poor, especially SC and ST students, and extend them to every block. The Congress promised to fill all the backlog vacancies in posts reserved for SC, ST, and OBC within one year and include in the school curriculum the work of social reformers to spread the message of social justice.

Under the Right to Apprenticeship Act, Congress said a one-year apprenticeship will be provided in private as well as public sector firms to diploma holders or college graduates below the age of 25. “Apprentices will get 1 lakh a year. The apprenticeship will impart skills, enhance employability, and provide full-time job opportunities for millions of youth.”

The Congress called inequality of income and opportunity India’s ugliest truth. It added it is the moral and political responsibility of any government to ensure that every Indian family is assured of a basic income every month.

The Congress resolved to launch a Mahalakshmi scheme to provide 1 lakh per year to every poor Indian family as an unconditional cash transfer. “The amount will be directly transferred to the bank account of the oldest woman of the household. Absent a woman, it will be transferred to the account of the oldest member of the family.”

Congress said it will give a legal guarantee to the Minimum Support Prices (MSP) every year and implement Swaminathan Commission recommendations for 50% profit over the complete cost of production. It added the Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices will be made a statutory body and MSP will be directly credited digitally to bank accounts of farmers. The Congress promised to appoint a Permanent Commission on Agricultural Finance that would report periodically on the extent of agricultural credit and the need for loan forbearance. “Crop insurance will be made farm and farmer-specific.”

The Congress promised freedom to the farmer to sell agricultural produce at the farm gate or at any other place of choice with an option to upload the sale-and-purchase agreement on a digital ledger. It pledged maternity benefits to all women. “All employers shall mandatorily grant paid maternity leave for their employees.”

The Congress promised separate legislation for the registration of sports federations/bodies/associations which will ensure full compliance with the Olympic Charter, allow for autonomy and full accountability, and provide recourse for members and sportspersons against discrimination, bias, sexual harassment, abuse, wrongful termination, etc.

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