[Reader-list] Divided as ever, quota lobbies mouth familiar lines

Aditya Raj Kaul kauladityaraj at gmail.com
Fri Apr 11 12:02:10 IST 2008

*Divided as ever, quota lobbies mouth familiar lines-**The Times Of India
11 Apr 2008*

 *NEW DELHI:* The Supreme Court's stamp of approval on OBC reservations in
educational institutes on Thursday elicited mixed reactions from students
and teachers. From infrastructure problems to implementation of the creamy
layer clause, they, however, sounded a note of caution.

"We are happy that the creamy layer is kept out. It is a victory for all
those students who stood up against it. But we are disappointed that the
seats in the general category are not increased," asked Dr Abhishek Bansal,
president, Azad Medicos Association (AMA), Maulana Azad Medical College.

Youth for Equality (YFE), which was formed in the wake of the OBC
reservation, debate is ecstatic. "It is the most balanced judgement.
Reservation should have been rationalised and now we are satisfied that the
government has been asked to come out with a list of beneficiaries. It is
the time to celebrate," said Anup Awasthi from YFE.

Pro-reservation groups though are unhappy about the creamy layer exclusion.
"It will just make the process more difficult. The Rs 2.5-lakh limit is not
justified, as it will disqualify a lot of needy people, especially after the
sixth pay commission, which has raised the salaries of government servants,"
said a senior faculty member of Lady Hardinge Medical College (LHMC).

In some quarters, apprehensions were raised about the ability of institutes
to build infrastructure that will be required to accommodate additional
students so that the number of seats for the general category remains
unchanged. "There are not enough lecture theatres, laboratories, hostels to
accommodate the existing students. Where would the additional 54% students
go?" asked Dr Dilpreet Kaur, active member of the Lady Hardinge Students'

The concerns are similar in other technical institutes. "IIT Delhi is the
smallest of the seven IITs. How will extra hostels, labs and classrooms come
up? We got through IIT after competing with almost 3 lakh students in the
entrance exam. Reserving seats for a set of students is unfair to us. If 40
students have to be stuffed in the same space which now houses 25, imagine
the way experiments would be done," said Nikita Mathur, final-year student
of chemical engineering in IIT Delhi.

"It should not be implemented. It's the doing of politicians. Admissions
should be conducted on the basis of merit, not caste. IIT is known for
taking in only the best of minds. This will not be said after the quota is
implemented," said Manali Kapoor, who is doing her PhD in Chemistry atIITD.

Neighbouring JNU, meanwhile, lived up to its "Leftist" reputation with most
people welcoming the quota. "Social justice was long due. If OBCs get
educated, it will create more skilled workforce. Many reserved seats that
are never filled because of shortage of skilled OBCs and Dalits will now be
up for grabs. Universities should be given funds and time to implement the
quota," said Kamal Mitra Chenoy, president, JNU Teachers' Association.

Infrastructure, meanwhile, tops the list of students' concerns in Delhi
University too. Said Tisha Sehdev, a second-year student at Hindu College,
"There's already a fight for space in colleges. Labs don't have enough
equipment and classrooms are over-crowded. How will the colleges manage to
take in more students within the next two months?"

Said DUTA president Aditya Narayan Misra: "It's a welcome move, which will
only be realised if the government also ensures that lack of infrastructure
is addressed while implementing the quota."

For many like Vasudha, the very word reservation reeked of inequality.
"Competition matters. If you're good, you'll get admission no matter where
you're from." Uday Raj Anand, however, had a different take. "Meritocracy is
between equals. When a section of people have not enjoyed basic amenities,
how can they be judged on the same level? Reservations are needed to bring
this section of people at par with the rest of the population."

*Said Aditya Raj Kaul of the United Students: "It's a step in the right
direction. But the government* *needs to ensure that implementation takes
place properly."* Added SFI spokesperson, Rohit from JNU, "It's a historic
judgment that will pave the way for social justice and affirmative action in
educational institutions for the deprived sections in our society."

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