As the debate over reservations for backward classes in higher education continues, Social Justice and Empowerment Minister Meira Kumar on Friday said such quotas are "a must for the development of the country".
Pointing out that the Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and other marginalized sections of society had limited access to higher education, Kumar said, "Increasing the representation in higher education is not only needed but is a must for the development of the country."
Speaking at a function to felicitate Scheduled Caste students awarded scholarships to study abroad, she asserted that the backward classes "were and are denied even the right to education".
Emphasising the need for increasing the representation of backward classes in higher education, she said talent was not the monopoly of any particular group.
She said the percentage of students to whom higher education is available or who can afford it is not in line with expectations.
More than the lack of talent and capability, students from marginalized sections of society faced the problem of "non-availability of opportunity", she said.
This view is shared by many people, she said and recalled the endorsement by 22 top industrial houses of the view that there is a need to provide greater economic opportunities to the disadvantaged.