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Two knowledge panel members resign

Pratap Mehta and Andre Beteille say the Govt's proposed quota policy will harm the country's long-term interests.

india Updated: May 22, 2006 18:13 IST

Two members of the National Knowledge Commission have resigned on Monday over the ongoing reservation controversy, stating that quotas in elite institutions violate the cardinal principles of a knowledge-based society.

Pratap Bhanu Mehta and Andre Beteille are the two members who have stepped down.

Mehta, member-convenor of the commission and president of the Centre for Policy Research, had earlier voiced his opinion against the central government's decision to implement quotas.

He said that the government's measures were not based on an assessment of effectiveness and that the proposal was incompatible with the freedom and diversity of institutions.

In his reckoning, such a move would thoroughly politicise the education process, injecting an "insidious poison" that will harm the nation's long-term interests. The measures, he said, would not achieve social justice.

Renowned sociologist Beteille said in his resignation letter that the quota proposal was a cynical misrepresentation of the recent provisions of the constitution.

Pointing out that the caste quotas are not required by the constitution, he said that any such policy would be unwise.

A majority of members of the commission had last week asserted that the government should not extend reservation to OBCs as proposed by the HRD ministry, and called for maintaining status quo on the issue till more effective avenues of affirmative action were explored.

Only two members, PM Bhargava and Jayati Ghosh, supported extension of reservation to OBCs, subject to certain conditions, even as six members called for maintaining the status quo.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had constituted the National Knowledge Commission in 2005 with eminent communication expert Sam Pitroda as its chairperson to "sharpen India's knowledge edge" and promote excellence in the education system.

The commission, expected to complete its work by October 2008, was to advise the Prime Minister on matters of institutions of knowledge production, knowledge use and knowledge dissemination.