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IIT ammo for minority sub-quota

- Admission figures suggest group under-represented among OBCs

New Delhi, Nov. 22: Minority OBCs are grossly under-represented within the 27 per cent OBC quota in at least eight IITs, admission figures suggest, as the Centre seeks to justify the separate sub-quota for them in the Supreme Court.

OBC minorities constituted only 1.56 per cent of all students admitted to the eight IITs in the past four years since the OBC quota came into force at the elite tech schools. Figures for the remaining IITs were not available.

The Union Cabinet had approved the 4.5 per cent sub-quota in December last year, after which the IITs reserved 443 seats under the category and selected 325 candidates who had secured qualifying marks. But the sub-quota wasn’t implemented as Andhra Pradesh High Court quashed it in May.

The Centre has appealed in the Supreme Court, which has asked for evidence to suggest how minorities are under-represented within the wider OBC quota.

Of the 25,415 students admitted to the IITs in Kanpur, Madras, Guwahati, Roorkee, Bhubaneswar, Patna, Rajasthan and Ropar in the past four years, 5,349 made it under the OBC quota. Of these, only 399 students —1.56 per cent of all — were minority OBCs.

The eight IITs have said they don’t maintain religion-wise data and have compiled the figures based on the names of students. The remaining seven IITs, including Bombay, Delhi and Kharagpur, have declined to furnish information on minority OBCs.

“If only 1.56 per cent students are minority OBCs, it indicates that students from these groups are not able to get their share within the OBC quota. This shows that minority OBCs are failing to compete with the OBCs from Hindu communities such as Kurmis and Yadavs,” said P.S. Krishnan, former secretary of the National Commission for Backward Classes and an expert on reservation policies.

The government had taken into account the Mandal Commission’s conclusion that OBCs constituted 52 per cent of the country’s population and of these, 8.4 per cent were minorities. The 27 per cent quota was aimed at uplifting the standards of all OBCs. The 4.5 per cent sub-quota was meant to ensure the minority OBCs’ share. But the high court ruled the sub-quota was based on religious grounds.

After the apex court sought the details, the HRD ministry decided to collect data from the IITs, IIMs and central universities, but has so far covered only the tech schools.

Krishnan said the fresh IIT data could support the Centre’s case on the sub-quota. The government had earlier produced the findings of the Sachhar Committee and Ranganath Mishra Commission to buttress its arguments about the economic and educational backwardness of minority OBCs.