Millennium Post

Poll toll quota in colleges

The sudden announcement by the higher education minister in Delhi government AK Walia to reserve 50 to 90 per cent of seats for ‘Delhi’ites’ in state government-funded colleges under Delhi University, has invited attention.

How far will this announcement affect the students would be known only when the admission in 28 such DU colleges commence in 2014.

According to Abha Dev Habib, professor of Physics in Miranda House, ‘Delhi University is a central university and politicians are playing political gimmicks and tactics before the state assembly elections. No such reservation can be done in colleges. If they really want to generate greater opportunities for students from Delhi, they should open new colleges in Delhi. Essentially, they should increase investment in higher education.’

The Delhi high court asked the government and Delhi University to look into the possibility of allowing reservation for students from the national capital in colleges funded by the Delhi government. The directions were issued by the bench of acting Chief Justice Badar Durrez Ahmad and Justice Vibhu Bakhru on a PIL filed by NGO Moksha Foundation, which had sought reservation of up to 85 per cent of total seats for Delhi domicile students in government-funded DU colleges.

There used to be a quota system in the United States as well, but it was abolished long ago. But it does not mean that they are not working for the underprivileged of their society. For admission and appointment purposes, now they have point systems, in which people from backward regions are given some extra points but, not a certain number of seats. Also from time to time such reforms or laws must be evaluated by experts and their impact on the development of under privileged and overall society must be assessed.

Politicians should stop using reservation system as a gimmick. Education should not be a part of politics. As per the guidelines of University Grant Commission (UGC), currently, reservation of 15, 7.5 and 27 per cent of seats is provided for candidates hailing from SC, ST and OBC communities. In case, enough candidates do not meet minimum qualifying criteria as per written tests, SC/ST candidates are permitted a relaxation of 50 per cent. If some vacancies still exist, a further relaxation is offered with a deferred admission after one year of ‘preparatory course’ study covering physics, chemistry and mathematics. After one year of study, only those candidates who are able to clear a cut-off in the ‘end semester exams’ are allowed into regular studies at the IITs. The seats reserved for SC/ST students are not transferable to the ‘general category’ and roll on to the next year’s students from the preparatory courses.

Shashi Tyagi, principal of Gargi College, DU, says, ‘A central university or a union university in India is established by Act of Parliament and is under the purview of the department of higher education in the union human resource development ministry’.

‘In general, universities in India are recognised by the University Grants Commission (UGC), which draws its power from the University Grants Commission Act, 1956. Central universities, in addition, are covered by the Central Universities Act, 2009, which regulates their purpose, powers governance etc,' added Tyagi.

The Supreme Court had earlier ruled out of  that there should be 50 per cent of reservation in all central universities, and it should not should not exceed 50 per cent of the seats. The Supreme Court not only limited overall reservation to 50 per cent, but also inserted an economic exclusion clause under the name of ‘creamy layer’. It later reiterated its decision of fixing the upper limit while disallowing the pleas of the Governments of Tamil Nadu and Karnataka from increasing the quota beyond 50 per cent.

However, till today  reservation is continued as controversial social and political issue. In August 1999, the Supreme Court ruled that for admissions at the super-speciality level in medicine and engineering faculties, no special provisions like reservations for SCs, STs and BCs were permissible. Even among the quota for reservations, there are also sub-quotas. For example, in Andhra Pradesh, 15 per cent of the seats in each course of study reserved for Scheduled Castes are in turn allotted, in proportion to their population, to four categories of SCs classified as A, B, C and D. Similarly, 25 per cent of the seats reserved for Backward Classes are allocated to four categories of BCs – labelled as A, B, C and D.

Minority institutions within Delhi University, whether based on religion or language shall have the right to establish and administer educational institution of their choice.

Many such institutions have been established by the minority communities in a number of states. According to a Supreme Court ruling in the case St Stephen’s College vs University of Delhi (AIR 1992 SC 1630), there have to be two categories for admissions in minority educational institutions.

They are Category I, within which 50 per cent of the seats for candidates belonging to the minority community (which has established the institution) is reserved; and Category II, in which 50 per cent of the seats for candidates for ‘communities other than the minority community which owns the institution’ is reserved.

In all states, admissions are regulated through the state-level common entrance tests.
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