Gandhinagar: The Gujarat government on Friday announced eight schemes to provide financial assistance for jobs and education to economically backward classes. The schemes will cover 58 castes currently not entitled to any reservation quota benefits. /Of the eight, seven schemes are for those with annual family incomes of 3 lakh or less.

The BJP government’s announcement is seen as an attempt to counter Hardik Patel’s agitation on August 25, where he has threatened the state government to sit on a fast-unto-death till his demands for reservation for the Patidar community is not met.

About 1.5 crore of Gujarat’s total 6.5 crore population do not avail any jobs or education-related government benefits and these schemes will cover a large number of them, according to Deputy Chief Minister Nitin Patel. Earlier this year, the state government had made a budgetary provision of 600 crore for the Gujarat Unreserved Educational & Economical Development Corporation to implement these schemes.

Gujarat currently has 49.5% reservation, including 7.5% for Scheduled Castes, 15% for Scheduled Tribes and 27% for OBCs. In 1992, the Supreme Court set a ceiling of 50% for all types of reservations, while ruling that the Mandal Commission’s recommendation giving reservations to OBCs was constitutionally valid.

The schemes unveiled on Friday include the Educational Studies Scheme, the Foreign Studies Scheme and a scheme to create self employment, among others.

Under the Educational Studies Scheme, a person from the non-reserved category can avail a loan of up to Rs10 lakh for college education at 4% interest every year. Besides the Rs3 lakh or below income criteria, the candidate has to secure 60% in 1the 2th grade.

The Foreign Studies Scheme will help a person who wants to pursue further studies after completing his 12th grade. The candidate can avail a loan of up to 5 lakh for a 4% interest if he/she has secured 60% in the 12th grade and annual family income is 4.5 lakh.

Under the scheme to create self-employment, the state government will provide financial assistance of around Rs10 lakh. The interest rate for men is 5%, while for women it is 4%.

Deputy Chief Minister Patel said that while a budgetary allocation of 600 crore was already made to implement these schemes, more funds would be infused as and when required.

In order to defuse the Patidar agitation, the BJP government had declared 10% reservation for economically backward classes among the higher castes through an Ordinance in May 2016. This was in addition to a 49.5% reservation for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes and OBCs. The move was, however, turned down by the court.

Close