Quotas may exclude affluent OBCs: Arjun | india | Hindustan Times
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Quotas may exclude affluent OBCs: Arjun

Arjun Singh also said there would be no dilution in the quality of education by increasing the number of seats.

india Updated: May 20, 2006 19:03 IST

The government may reserve less than 27 per cent seats in institutions of higher education for other backward classes, while excluding the affluent among this section, Human Resource Development Minister Arjun Singh has said.

The minister also made it clear that there would be no dilution in the quality of education by increasing the number of seats in such institutions, nor would there be a constraint in terms of faculty or infrastructure.

"But a decision has yet to be taken," Arjun Singh told a TV channel in an interview, referring to the issue of fresh affirmative action that has triggered nationwide protests by students, who say the new system will deny merit-based education.

What has irked the students and triggered vociferous protests is that after the new system of 27 per cent quotas for other backward classes, the total percentage of reservation for socially backward groups would increase to around 50 per cent.

But the minister said among the proposals being examined by the government is to proportionately increase the number of seats so that the impact of the constitutional requirement can be cushioned.

Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee had explained on Thursday that a formula being discussed is to increase the seats in an institution of 100 students to 154 so that the impact of the new quota system does not impair the chances of students in the general category.

Mukherjee and Arjun Singh, along with Finance Minister P Chidambaram, are part of an informal cabinet panel set up by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to examine the issue of quotas as required by the 93rd amendment of the constitution.

According to Arjun Singh, the government was also examining the possibility of excluding the affluent among the other backward classes from the new system of quotas, although he said he did not know the percentage population of the community.

"But there is no question of reservation not happening," he said categorically and added that not knowing the population of other backward classes does not change the case of reservation for them.

Arjun Singh also denied that the situation had not been handled properly by the government and refuted charges that he raked up the issue to merely embarrass the prime minister out of jealousy at not being picked for the top job.

The minister maintained he had kept Manmohan Singh in the loop and rubbished the charge as alleged in a section of the media that he had jumped the gun in going public with what was a constitutional requirement that came into force on January 20.