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Shourie questions quotas

Journalist and former minister Arun Shourie questions the very notion of quotas in his new book.

india Updated: Jun 13, 2006 18:49 IST
PTI

Amid the furore over reservations for OBCs in higher education, former BJP minister Arun Shourie has joined the anti-quota chorus, egging on the judiciary to strip political parties of their populist cover once and for all.

In his new book Falling Over Backwards: An essay against reservations and against judicial populism, he documents what he says are attempts by state legislatures and Parliament to bend the law for their benefit, and how the courts - including the Supreme Court - have been virtually ineffective in tackling arbitrary government functioning.

The book, which comes in the backdrop of the government's proposal to reserve 27 per cent seats for Other Backward Classes in higher education as well as a move to reserve jobs in the private sector, charts the history of reservations and and questions the very notion of quotas.

Shourie begins by quoting the country's first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, who said quotas based on communal lines would lead to disaster. He then cites a number of instances to prove that "affirmative action through reservations" has done little to improve the lot of the underprivileged across India.

 
 

The former disinvestment minister justifies his stand after analysing more than 50 Supreme Court judgments, government archives and census reports of the 1930s and even earlier.

More importantly, Shourie goes beyond to observe the situation on the ground - how quotas in government services and educational institutions in various states and at the central level have played havoc with the system.