India's ruling party establishes quota for poor upper-caste people in government jobs ahead of national elections


India’s Parliament has approved a bill to establish a 10 percent quota of government jobs for poor upper-caste people left out of existing quotes for low-ranking castes.

The Congress party and other opposition parties supported the legislation Wednesday but criticized Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government for bringing it months before the national elections, suggesting the move was intended to garner votes.

The Modi government unexpectedly moved the bill in the lower house of Parliament on Tuesday and got it approved. The upper house adopted it on Wednesday. It now needs the approval of India’s president — a formality — to become law.

Discrimination under the caste system was outlawed soon after India’s independence from Britain in 1947, but the system’s influence remains strong.

Until now, 49.5 percent of government jobs were allocated to lower castes.