SC raises valid points on OBC quota

Tuesday, March 13, 2007 Dr. Vishaal Bhat 0 Comments

The Supreme Court has done well to raise issues that fly in the face of the UPA Government?s claimed logic behind its illconceived move to reserve 27 per cent seats in institutions of higher education, including acclaimed centres of excellence, for students from the so-called ?Other Backward Classes?. That the Central Educational Institutions (Reservation in Admission) Act of 2007, whose passage in Parliament was greatly facilitated by the active collusion of the Opposition with the Treasury Benches, indicating that no party is immune to the lure of identity politics, is a deeply flawed law has been known ever since it was conceived by Human Resource Development Minister Arjun Singh. Yet, nobody in authority has had the courage to highlight the flaws lest it should displease the intended beneficiaries of such regressive quota politics.

Youth for Equality did put up a spirited fight, but it was doomed to fail in the absence of political support. However, it is to the credit of Youth for Equality that it has not entirely given up the fight against Singh?s dream of penalising meritorious students and degrading higher education; along with others, they have taken the issue to court. It is in this context that the Supreme Court, questioning the legality of the OBC quota in institutions of higher education, has asked the Government to explain how it has fixed the quantum at 27 percent and the criteria used for determining social and educational backwardness of castes and communities.

It has also questioned the Government?s decision not to remove the ?creamy layer? from the intended beneficiaries of its largesse. Those who dared oppose the OBC quota did raise these questions, only to be met with either devious obfuscation or arrogant silence. Recent surveys have indicated the OBC population is far less than what is claimed by those who wish to
subjugate higher education to caste politics. Curiously, although the dispute over the numerical
strength of each caste can be settled through a caste-based census, every Government has shied
away from ordering such an exercise.

That apart, there is the other issue of determining social and educational backwardness of communities:

Should the criteria be based on subjective interpretations or an objective assessment based on economic factors? Hopefully, the SC will succeed in forcing the Government to abandon its antediluvian quota policy. If that leaves our vote-bank dependent politicians smarting, so be it.


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