At least 30 women belonging to various reserved communities have been protesting in Gandhinagar for a month demanding scrapping of a General Resolution (GR) of the Gujarat government that does not allow them to compete in the open category for women and diminishing their chances by scaling up the cut off marks required for a government job.
The women, who have taken competitive examinations for the posts of Lok Rakshak Dal (LRD), an arm of the Gujarat police, are from the Socially & Educationally Backward Communities (SEBC or OBC), Scheduled Castes (SC) and Scheduled Tribes (ST), and call the policy “discriminatory”, “anti-women” and against the “spirit of the idea of reservation”. The LRD is a fixed wage (Rs 19,950 per month) job for five years, after which the recruit is confirmed.
After the GR dated August 1, 2018, the Gujarat government stopped picking women candidates from the quotas in the Open Competition category of women even if they qualify on merit.
Gujarat implemented 30 per cent reservation for women in 1997 and raised it to 33 per cent in 2014. Broadly, the GR, issued by the General Administration Department (GAD) of the Gujarat government, suggests that while applying the principle of horizontal reservation, a woman candidate from a socio-economic reserved category cannot compete with women from the open category. The GR also suggests that since the woman’s reservation is horizontal, meritorious women from the reserved category will be factored within candidates of a reserved community, which is vertical in nature.
Following the GR, in many competitive examinations for government jobs, the cut off marks of many OBC, ST, SC or EWS women have been higher than the cut off marks of the Open Competition category women, which they find “unjustified”.
Before the August 2018 GR, women from socio-economic quotas were selected under the Open Competition category for women, on merit.
The protesting women complain that by closing competition for them in the open category, the government has practically created an ‘Open Category’ exclusively for women of unreserved categories. They also say that the GR is not only against the spirit of the reservation policy, but is also discouraging competitiveness among women.
“We have come to know from among our circles that women from unreserved category, who have lower marks than us are being called by the Lok Rakshak Recruitment Board for the selection procedure like verification of documents or physical fitness by applying the 2018 GR,” said Rinkal Chaudhary (22) from Mehsana who has been protesting since December 10.
Rinkal belongs to the OBC and she said that the merit for the OBC women is higher than women of unreserved communities.
“By bringing the 2018 GR, the government has created an exclusive category for women of unreserved communities. This cannot be done because open competition category is for all. And, as is being done in male reservation, if a woman from reserved category fares better than the woman candidates of unreserved category, then the former must be adjusted into the open competition category. This GR is anti-women,” said Chaudhary.
A state government official said that the GR has given rise to an extraordinary scenario where some women from socio-economic quota have started considering to apply as unreserved candidate under Open Competition category in certain upcoming government jobs.
“This is because, now, in many government recruitment processes, the cut off marks of women from unreserved category is much lower than the cut off marks of reserved category women,” the officer said.
A senior state functionary justifies the protest saying that after the EWS quota was introduced in Gujarat, roughly 80% of population is eligible for reservation, and women from this large quota is denied competition in the general category.
The officer cites how the provisions of the GR were also applied to the recruitment of posts exclusively for women, like the hiring in August 2019 for over 50 vacancies of Child Development Project Officer (CDPO).
The protesting LRD women candidates say they have been left out of the selection because the government is hiring as per the controversial GR under which meritorious women candidates from the reserved categories have not been adjusted in the Open Competition category of women even if they qualify for it.
Echoing Chaudhary, another protesting woman candidate Chetana Valand (29) from Ahmedabad said, “This government policy is completely anti-women. The 2018 GR is not being applied on male candidates, whereas, the same is being done for women candidates. I belong to the OBC community. I have got 68.75 out of total 125 marks and yet I have not been called for selection. Whereas, women from unreserved categories having as low marks as 35 have been called for selection procedure like physical fitness.”
“We want this GR to be scrapped and the recruitment procedure revised,” Valand added.
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