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Jamia seeks time for OBC quota, tests govt

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  • Published 14.01.10

New Delhi, Jan. 13: Jamia Millia Islamia has asked the Centre for three more years to implement OBC quotas in a controversial demand that will test both the law and the government’s ability to balance backward class and minority pressures.

The central university has asked the human resource development ministry for time till the 2013 academic session, for the first time giving a time frame within which it will implement OBC quotas, The Telegraph has learnt.

HRD minister Kapil Sibal is learnt to be averse to upsetting large and influential sections of Muslims opposed to OBC reservations at Jamia, where a parallel tussle is on over whether it should receive minority university status. Jamia, at present, is not a minority institution.

But accepting the Jamia demand would require legal juggling by the government that some officials warned would not prove easy.

The central educational institutions (reservations in admissions) act implemented from the 2008 academic session mandated that all centrally funded higher educational institutions must complete 27 per cent OBC reservations in three years.

The 2010 academic session is the third and final year of the mandated time period within which Jamia, like all other central higher educational institutions, had to implement the quotas.

But unlike most other central institutions, which decided to implement the quotas in phases over three years, Jamia did not introduce the reservations in 2008 or 2009.

This, however, is the first time they have said that they do not plan to implement the quotas in 2010 either.

The Jamia demand is also controversial because if it is accepted, other central universities, the IITs and the IIMs may also make copycat demands that would not be easy to turn down.

While accepting the demand may help the government pacify Muslim leaders opposed to the quotas, any spread of this demand to other institutions could upset OBC leaders, government sources fear.

Jamia’s demand — conveyed by vice-chancellor Najeeb Jung to HRD minister Kapil Sibal during a recent meeting — is closely linked to the debate in the university over seeking minority status. Minority institutions are not required to enforce OBC reservations under law.

Voluble sections of the Muslim community demanded minority status for the university during previous VC Mushirul Hasan’s time.

Hasan, however, opposed the demand for minority status — a stand that earned him support from some but plenty of brickbats too.

Jung has not openly articulated his position on the demand for minority status —currently being considered by the National Commission for Minority Education Institutions, India’s apex minority education watchdog.

But a 2009 letter from the HRD ministry to Jamia seeking implementation of the quotas drew angry reactions from the Muslim community.

The Jamiat-Ulema-e-Hind, the Jamaat-e-Islami Hind, the All India Muslim Personal Law Board and other community organisations opposed the HRD ministry, labelling the letter to Jamia a threat.

A large chunk of government funds for each central higher education institution is at present allocated for the implementation of OBC quotas.

The HRD ministry, in its letter, had said Jamia’s funds for implementing OBC quotas would not be released unless it implemented the quotas.