The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Govt walks path of phased quota

New Delhi, Aug. 8: The human resource development ministry is likely to stagger the implementation of 27 per cent OBC quota for institutions that have pleaded their inability to introduce it at one go.

First on the list are the Indian institutes of technology (IITs) and the Indian institutes of management (IIMs).

In their reports to the oversight committee which is dealing with the implementation of OBC quotas in higher educational institutions, the subcommittees for both groups have said it will be difficult, if not impossible, to increase seats by 50 per cent at one go.

The quota will come into effect from the academic year 2007 and the government is readying a bill, which is to be introduced in the ongoing session of Parliament.

The Centre has said the 27 per cent quota will not affect the general category students. At present, there is 15 per cent quota for Scheduled Castes and 7.5 per cent for Scheduled Tribes. This means the institutions will have to increase their capacity by 50 per cent to keep the number of general seats intact.

The UPA-Left coordination committee had passed a resolution saying the 27 per cent quota should be implemented in one stroke. HRD minister Arjun Singh, too, supported the resolution.

In its interim report to the Prime Minister and the HRD minister last month, the oversight committee, headed by Veerappa Moily, however, recommended caution to maintain the quality of these institutions.

Almost all the five categories of these institutions — central universities, agriculture education institutions, engineering and technology institutions, management institutions and medical institutions — have informed the Centre about the problems they will face in increasing faculty strength and adding to the infrastructure at the level required.

The management and engineering institutions have stressed their constraints more strongly than any other group. The IIMs and IITs have virtually told the government that they are in no position to go in for such a huge expansion in such a short time.

Quoting the subcommittee on the management institutions’ observation about faculty constraints and the difficulty in getting land to expand infrastructure, the report said: “There is an apprehension that the whole process of expansion and excellence may be compromised.”

The committee has said there must be a “systematic review of the OBC quota implementation every five years in order to reform and effect improvements”.

The subcommittee on engineering and technology institutions has pointed to finding sufficient number of additional faculty members as one of the most serious challenges.

“Attracting, retaining and developing faculty was seen as the single most critical component in the whole process of implementing reservation (in the engineering institutes),” said the Moily report.

The Centre is under pressure from its southern allies like the DMK and the PMK to introduce the quota at one go. PMK leader S. Ramadoss will meet Manmohan Singh and Sonia Gandhi in Delhi tomorrow with the demand.

The Prime Minister, however, is keen to stagger the quota implementation.

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