Whether 10 per cent reservation for the economically weaker sections of upper caste is a mere poll gimmick or not will depend on whether the Centre and the states start offering jobs in right earnest. There are already more than 29 lakh vacancies at the Centre and state level which haven't been filled for years on end. Over 13 lakh of these are in the education sector, which includes 9 lakh in elementary teachers and 4.17 lakh unfilled positions under Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan. Over 4 lakh jobs haven't been filled in police forces; 4.12 lakh in ministries and government departments and another 2.53 lakh in Railways.
If the government moves to fill these 29 lakh vacancies, it will cost a whopping 1.27 lakh crore annually. Hence, implementing this looks improbable. After all, this would raise the Centre's salary budget by a whopping 76 per cent or will bloat the fiscal deficit by 21 per cent.
As per the fitment formula suggested by the 7th Pay Commission, the minimum pay for an entry-level government employee has been raised to Rs 18,000 per month from Rs 7,000 earlier. For the government that's a cost of Rs 36,000 per month. For over 29 lakh employees it's a Rs 1.27 lakh crore annual wage bill.
The enormous bill raises a question mark over the rush to introduce the Bill in the Parliament at the eleventh hour. The reason why these vacancies haven't been filled for years is because both the Centre and state finances are not in best shape. Centre, for instance, has already exceeded its fiscal deficit for the April-November period by over Rs 1 lakh crore. In 2018, pension payout has exceeded the salary budget of Rs 1.68 lakh crore by Rs 10,000 crore.
Yet, if the government does move to fill these vacancies, here's what Rs 1.27 lakh crore could fund otherwise:
The Rs 12,000 crore outlay Modicare or Ayushman Bharat scheme for 10 years.
The budget 2018 had an allocation of Rs 265 crores for incentive to girl child for secondary education. The savings to government from salaries could have provided 482 years of funding to the girl child scheme. And 456 years to Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao scheme.
This amount is also equivalent to 1.42 times the monthly average collection of GST in 2018.
National nutrition mission which aims at solving the problem of under-nutrition in India could be financed for 42 years with this money.To be fair to the flavour of the season, it could even fund 79 weaponised Rafale aircraft at Rs 1,600 crore per aircraft.