The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Arjun’s team gets cracking

New Delhi, May 24: Arjun Singh’s ministry has set the ball rolling on introducing 27 per cent quota for Other Backward Classes in higher education.

The human resource ministry has sent a note to the Prime Minister, informing him that “work” has begun on the reservation project.

The ministry’s first job is to draw up for the monsoon session a bill that will enable the government to implement the quota.

Another crucial task before the government is to pick the members of the oversight committee, which will suggest the nitty-gritty of enforcing the quota and increasing the number of seats in the general category.

Arjun’s ministry will suggest names for the panel but the Prime Minister will have the last word, sources said. It will draw on suggestions of directors, deans and vice-chancellors. Their inputs will be used to outline the specific measures needed for each class of institute.

The bill will say OBCs will be given a 27 per cent quota, but the sheer challenges in raising the number of seats within a year to offset the impact on the general category may prompt the government to consider a middle path.

The seat increase could cost over Rs 8,000 crore. If the government increases the seats to compensate those set aside for the quota, 27 seats have to be added for every 100 seats in a central institute. In the six IIMs alone, this could mean an increase of over 300 seats. For the IITs and others, it will be far higher.

The group that will advise the panel may suggest that a phased implementation would be more realistic, though such a proposal drew the ire of some MPs yesterday.

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