Amethi MP Rahul Gandhi recently swapped places with a Congress colleague to become a member of the parliamentary standing committee on Human Resource Development (HRD) that is currently seized of the quota-in-education issue.
There can be two interpretations of Rahul’s decision to shift from the standing committee of Home Affairs to the HRD panel. One, his keen interest in the spread of literacy to the hinterland where, as pointed out by him in his Budget speech in Parliament, many young could not even say ke bade ho kar kya banenge (what do they want to become when they grow up).
And two, his presence in the committee will help him track more closely the moves of Arjun Singh’s HRD Ministry on the quota issue with its mutually competitive social justice and divisive dimensions.
Though the HRD Minister spoke of the need to introduce quotas for other backward classes (OBCs) in central institutes of higher education a month after Rahul’s speech in the Lok Sabha in March, the Amethi MP did not hesitate to react to the controversy that had brought the anti-reservationists on the streets.
Quizzed by reporters, he said that both sides of the quota controversy had valid points. After changing places with M Raja Mohan Reddy, which was notified in the Lok Sabha bulletin on October 10, Rahul attended his first meeting of the standing committee on HRD on October 18.
The 31-member panel decided to ask the Veerappa Moily committee, the Backward Classes Commission and the National Commission for Minority Educational Institutions to make a presentation to it on the quota issue on November 1 and 2.
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