Thursday, March 08, 2007

OBC Reservation - not a done thing yet

The IITs and IIMs are gearing up for the first of the three phases in the introduction of OBC quotas but at this point, the fate of the 27% OBC reservation proposal still hangs in the balance. A two-judge bench of the Supreme Court is hearing a writ petition seeking a stay on the Central Educational Institutions (Reservation in Admission) Act, 2006.

The petitioners oppose the implementation saying the 27% figure is based on a 75 year old census; unless we have updated figures on the caste-wise distribution of population, they say, we cannot decide what is the quota. Fali Nariman, representing the petitioners, argued in court yesterday that he was not asking for the Act to be set aside; he was only asking that implementation be delayed until criteria for establishing backwardness had been spelt out. He also pointed out that, under the Act, the creamy layer had not been excluded.

The Court has reserved its decision.

My point is a little different. There is already a certain percentage of OBCs that makes it to elite institutions. We need to get a handle on this percentage- say x%. The quota must be set at 27%-x% even if it is accepted that 27% is the right figure for reservation. Otherwise, you will have x% getting in through the general list and 27% through the quota, making for a total in excess of 27%. To my mind, this aspect has not been clarified so far.

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