| Members of a United Students delegation after they met President APJ Abdul Kalam on Thursday to oppose the government’s proposal to increase reservation in educational institutions. The students also told the President about “failures” of the primary education system, which they want reviewed.(PTI)
New Delhi, May 4: Is it enough that less than one in 10 young Indians have access to higher education, Arjun Singh asked today.
Unfazed by the storm over the planned Other Backward Classes quota, the Union human resource development minister spoke of the “deprivation of those who are marginalised”.
“Today, we have nearly 350 universities and equivalent institutions ' some 100 of them are in the category of deemed universities. In addition, there are well over 17,000 colleges,” Arjun told a meeting of chancellors and vice-chancellors.
“These numbers may sound impressive, but is it enough that less than only 10 per cent of our youth have access to higher education' This figure does not, convincingly, tell us about the deprivation of those who are marginalised.”
The minister’s remarks came on a day he also met the Election Commission to argue he hadn’t violated its model code of conduct by speaking of the planned OBC quota last month. Arjun explained his position to chief election commissioner B.B. Tandon and election commissioners N. Gopalaswami and Navin Chawla.
“The minister wanted a personal hearing, which was granted,” a poll panel source said but did not elaborate.
Yesterday, Arjun had called on President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam and discussed the reservation controversy that has led to protests in Delhi and other parts of the country. Kalam had recently suggested increasing the number of seats in the IITs and IIMs as a solution.
Today, Arjun told the national conference on “deemed-to-be universities: role and responsibilities” that the ruling coalition’s common minimum programme says the state shall not abdicate its responsibilities in higher education, “yet (the) government’s efforts have to be supplemented”.
The Supreme Court today reserved its verdict on the constitutional validity of extending reservation to promotions in government jobs. A five-judge Constitution bench headed by Chief Justice Y.K. Sabharwal has heard arguments on a batch of petitions challenging amendments to the Constitution that widen the scope of reservation.