Debating India

OBC quota clears Parliament

Tuesday 19 December 2006

NEW DELHI, DECEMBER 18: The much-debated legislation granting 27 per cent reservation to OBCs in the Centrally-aided educational institutions finally got Parliament’s nod today after the Rajya Sabha passed the Bill by a voice vote defeating an amendment moved by the opposition BJP by 67 votes.

The historic Bill - which could certainly come to be regarded as the benchmark legislation of the Manmohan Singh-led UPA government and which saw a section of the student community protesting against what they called further shrinking of the general category seats - is now all set to become an Act.

Replying to the three-and-a-half-hour long debate, in which more than one member from each political party spoke harping on the need to firm up the country’s primary education sector, HRD Minister Arjun Singh promised to bring another reservation Bill in the near future to cover the unaided institutions.

The Central Educational Institutions (Reservation in Admission) Bill, 2006, that will give 27 per cent to OBCs was passed by the Lok Sabha on Thursday. It defines OBC as the class or classes of citizens who are socially and educationally backward and are so determined by the Centre.

In the Rajya Sabha, despite efforts by the government to avoid a division, the opposition pressed forward an amendment to include minority institutions in the Bill’s purview. It was defeated as 91 members votes against the amendment and 24 in favour.

Though regarded as the architect of the Bill, Arjun Singh insisted that it had the full backing of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi. “This Bill would not have been here, if there was no co-operation from Sonia Gandhi and the Prime Minister,” Singh emphatically said.

It was the HRD Minister’s surprise, if not inadvertent, announcement several months ago of the government’s plan to reserve seats for the OBCs in higher education, which set the ball rolling. In response to the political furore and the countrywide students protests that followed, Manmohan Singh set up the Moily Oversight Committee to draw up a massive infrastructural plan for the Central universities, IIT and IIMs by which 27 per cent OBC quota would come into being through an overall increase in seats.

In the Rajya Sabha today, clarifying the points raised by the Opposition, Arjun Singh said excluding the minority institutions from the purview of the Bill does not necessarily mean that admission of SCs/STs/OBCs in these would be affected. “They have been enrolling them for several years,’’ Singh said, adding that it would continue in the same manner.

Singh said the provisions for OBC reservation could not be implemented in the minority-run institutions because of certain Constitutional difficulties.

See online : The Indian Express

SPIP | template | | Site Map | Follow-up of the site's activity RSS 2.0