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Anger, denial, agony: Mandal Two is here

THE RE-EMERGENCE of the Mandal regime a la Arjun Singh has not gone down too well with the concerned parties -- educators and students. While some lashed out openly against the HRD Ministry's proposed move to enforce 27 per cent reservation for OBCs in central government-funded educational institutions, others were muted in their criticism.

india Updated: Apr 07, 2006 00:56 IST

THE RE-EMERGENCE of the Mandal regime a la Arjun Singh has not gone down too well with the concerned parties -- educators and students. While some lashed out openly against the HRD Ministry's proposed move to enforce 27 per cent reservation for OBCs in central government-funded educational institutions, others were muted in their criticism.

Most felt that it would be impossible to drum up the additional resources and faculty needed to cater to the increased student intake that Arjun Singh envisages.

Those who head IITs and IIMs refused to comment -- saying they were yet to receive any communication from the government -- but several senior functionaries at these institutions were furious.

"Quota is a negative approach," said Hari Shankar Singhania, chairperson, IIM Lucknow. A teacher said, "By and large everybody agrees that this is a step in the wrong direction." A senior faculty member said if the OBC quota was enforced in the IIMs, quality would be the first casualty. Another teacher said efforts were being made to consult other IIMs and take their opinion on the issue.

An IIM Lucknow professor told HT: "If you relax standards to fill quotas, will the students who come in through this reservation be able to cope with the high standards at the IITs and IIMs? Since these students will be of a lower academic standard, the overall standards of education will suffer."

At IIM Ahmedabad, student media representative Rahul Roushan said, "If nearly 50 per cent seats are reserved, then competition for entry would be very tough. It's already very tough to get in here." But the directors of IIT Delhi, Rajendra Prasad, and IIT Kolkata, Shekhar Chaudhari said they would "comply" if the government had taken a decision.

In Delhi, most officials of DU, JNU and Jamia Millia Islamia said they were yet to hear from the Centre on the OBC quota issue. They, however, said they would have to implement it if a directive in this regard was issued.

General-category students sounded unhappy about the government's proposed move. Madhuri Singh, a third-year student of English (Hons) at a DU college, was worried about her future. "I plan to do my masters," she said. "There are about 80 seats in DU. Till now, I had competition from SCs/STs. And now OBCs. With such limited seats and 50 per cent reserved for them, what chance do I stand."

Manoj Khanna, member, DU's Academic Council, said the move would worsen the situation in colleges because students with poor results would be competing with those with better results. "Not only will the standard of education suffer, but the students with low scores will find it very difficult to cope with the syllabus in colleges," he said.

An administrative official at JNU said, "JNU is an central university. We've been open to OBC students by granting them additional points -- 10 points to women and 5 points to men -- in the scores of their written exams.