Gandhinagar: The ongoing Patel quota stir in Gujarat on Thursday prompted the state government to announce a package for the economically backward category (EBC) irrespective of caste including scholarship for students and age limit relaxation for its jobs.
The fee waiver in various slabs under the Mukhyamantri Yuva Swavlamban Yojna (Chief Minister's Youth Self-Reliance Scheme) would cost the government Rs 1,000 crore per year, Health Minister and government spokesperson Nitin Patel said.
The announcement by Gujarat Chief Minister Anandiben Patel was made in an apparent bid to pacify the Patels as well as other communities which at present do not get benefits of reservations.
Anandiben said the scheme unveiled today would cover students of all the categories, general/open as well as OBCs, SCs and STs.
The criterion is that the annual family income of the beneficiary shouldn't exceed Rs 4.5 lakh.
The students who secure 90 per cent or more in Class 12 will be eligible to get 50 per cent fee waiver with a ceiling of Rs 2 lakh per year if they secure admission to self-financed medical colleges, where the fees range from Rs 3 lakhs to Rs 5.5 lakh, according to the scheme.
Those getting admission to engineering and pharmacy courses will get 50 per cent fee waiver per year with a ceiling of Rs 50,000.
The chief minister also announced that the age limit for applying to government jobs has been raised to 33 years from 28 years.
The announcement came at a time when Patidars (Patel community) are up in arms seeking OBC status and reservations. The agitation turned violent after the August 25 mega-rally in Ahmedabad.
Other upper caste communities such as Rajputs and Brahmins too are now demanding reservations for the poor among them; while the OBC Ekta Manch has opposed these communities eating into the 27 per cent OBC quota.