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Package to unfold over 3 yrs

Centre mulls increasing the number of seats and appointing more teachers.

india Updated: May 18, 2006 12:42 IST

Congress chief Sonia Gandhi met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Wednesday amid indications that the government was contemplating a three-year time frame for graduated implementation of the proposed quota system in central institutes and private unaided centres of higher education.

At the core of the Centre's approach is increasing the number of seats and appointing more teachers, along with creating new infrastructure.

To attract teachers to top-of-the-line institutions, the Cabinet Committee on Political Affairs (CCPA) had on Monday discussed the possibility of reworking the wage structure at the IIMs and IITs to bring it at a par with the private sector.

A CCPA member told HT that the number of seats would be increased by setting up new institutes and increasing the student intake in the existing ones.

To this end, the government plans to rope in the private sector. The Planning Commission's document on education in the Eleventh Plan has put forward a proposal to attract private participation by allowing education companies to enter the field.

The final shape of the government's reservation formula will, however, be determined by inputs gathered from UPA allies and the opposition NDA. Also, consultations will be held with academicians, Planning Commission experts and the private sector.
 
Since there is a broad consensus in Parliament to enforce the 93rd Constitutional Amendment -- which talks of quotas for SCs, STs and OBCs in educational institutions, including unaided private ventures -- the passage of a bill will not be a problem. The option of bringing in an ordinance after the Parliament session concludes on May 23 rests primarily on the response of political parties.

Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee, Finance Minister P Chidambaram and HRD Minister Arjun Singh — formalised as a GoM on Wednesday, with Mukherjee as convenor — have been tasked to give shape to the Centre's formula after factoring in the inputs the PM received from UPA and NDA leaders.

Also on Wednesday, the CPM -- likely to have a big influence in the matter -- in a statement by its politburo backed reservations for OBCs but sought the exclusion of the "creamy layer" to restrict the benefit to the needy. "We'll advise the PM accordingly when he calls us for talks," said Sitaram Yechury. He said the government should bring its proposal before Parliament for approval -- and not promulgate an ordinance.

Amid these moves, the Forum of OBC MPs postponed its meeting scheduled for the day. Minister without portfolio Oscar Fernandes met a delegation of striking medicos but clarified that he did not meet it on the PM's authority. In their memorandum to Fernandes, the Youth for Equality activists demanded a rollback of the proposed 27 per cent quota for OBCs.