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Sibal sees no merit in quota

Protesting medicos have a sympathiser in the Science and Technology Minister, reports KA Badarinath. In pics: Docs' stir

india Updated: Apr 27, 2006 12:17 IST

Protesting Delhi medicos may be glad to know that they have a sympathiser in Science and Technology Minister Kapil Sibal. The students battled the police all day for an opportunity to meet and tell HRD minister Arjun Singh they don’t like his plan to increase quota seats in educational institutions including the IITs and the IIMs.

Sibal said on Wednesday: "No policy should be taken which will dilute the levels of excellence in our research and development (R&D) and educational institutions at a time when the western countries are looking at us for excellence."

"We should not do anything that will either deter or dampen our excellence in R&D," he told reporters on the sidelines of the Hannover Fair. "Nothing should be done that will dampen India's efforts to compete in the world markets"

This is what the agitatng students wanted to hear from Singh, with medical colleges added to the list of exempted institutes. They have it instead from Sibal, but does he or his views on the matter count for very much. After all IITs and IIMs do not report to him or his ministry. They are Arjun Singh’s responsibility and he will probably have his way.

But if Sibal wants, and is allowed to have his say, he can create problems for Singh. Several projects in IITs and IIMs are supported by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, the Department of Science and the Technology and Department of Biotechnology -- all under him. And they can turn off the tap at his instructions, if he wants.

Sibal's statement comes days after Commerce and Industry Minister Kamal Nath's statement here -- also on the quota issue, but as proposed for the private sector. He had said that his new industrial policy, which will be put before the cabinet in six weeks, would obviate the need for reservations in the private sector. Sources said the new policy would definitely address the problems of unemployment and backwardness through subsidies and financial incentives.

Hindustan Times first reported on Arjun Singh move to take the level of reservation in educational institutions from the existing 27 per cent to 49 per cent as recommended by the  Mandal commission. He used the phorase Mandal Model to describe his inititative.