Friday, December 24, 2010

[ZESTCaste] Education quota pledge

Education quota pledge

Calcutta, Dec. 23: The Bengal government today expectedly tabled the
bill that would in effect hand a 10 per cent job quota to Bengal's
backward Muslims, while announcing a similar seat reservation in
higher education institutions in phases starting next year.

Higher education minister Sudarshan Raychoudhury said the 17 per cent
OBC seat quota — of which 10 per cent would go to Category A (most
backward) which is dominated by Muslims — would be introduced in
phases because of a seat shortage.

Five per cent quotas would be introduced for each of the two OBC
categories, A and B, in the 2011-12 academic session that begins next
June-July. The following year will see the implementation of five and
two per cent quotas for Category A and Category B, respectively. A
government notification will be issued soon, he said.

Raychoudhury said the state government had asked central regulatory
bodies to allow an increase in higher education seats in Bengal so
that the general category's share did not fall.

The OBC job quota bill, which sets aside 10 per cent jobs for Category
A and seven per cent for Category B, was today sent to the Assembly
standing committee by Speaker Hashim Abdul Halim after its

Backward classes development minister Jogesh Burman later said this
was routine procedure and should not be seen as a "political setback"
for the government. CPM leaders expressed confidence that the bill,
seen as a vote-catcher, would be passed in the pre-poll budget

Raychoudhury said the state had asked central regulatory bodies such
as the Medical Council of India and the All India Council for
Technical Education to allow an increase of seats in medical,
engineering and other technical colleges in Bengal. If this is
approved, "the total seats would increase for students of all social
backgrounds", he said.

However, existing central guidelines stipulate that seats should not
be raised to facilitate admission quotas.

"I have spoken to the Union human resource minister to allow us to
increase the number of seats in medical and engineering colleges and
other institutions for three years before the final decision is taken
by the respective central apex (regulatory) bodies. The law permits it
and some central institutions have already done it," Raychoudhury

He acknowledged that the reservation — whenever the law is passed —
would not be binding on private educational institutions but added:
"We will appeal to private institutions to emulate our affirmative

Raychoudhury said the state government had been planning to introduce
the OBC quota in higher education ever since the Centre enacted a law
in 2006 facilitating such reservation in central educational

Neither the job quota bill nor Raychoudhury's announcement about the
education quota mentioned backward Muslims by name, but only cited the
categories A and B.

The job quota will apply to government departments, corporations and
PSUs as well as all educational institutions owned or funded by the
state government. The state already has job reservations for the
Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes.

Thirty-one per cent of seats are now reserved in Bengal's educational
institutions. The Scheduled Castes are entitled to 22 per cent, the
Scheduled Tribes to six per cent and physically challenged students to
three per cent.


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