Thursday, April 6, 2006 (New Delhi, Ahmedabad, Patna):
The Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) and the Indian Institutes of Management (IIMS) will not have to follow the new rules this year as their admission procedures have begun.
However, the reservations will probably have to come into effect from the next year. The new reservation is in addition to the 22.5 per cent reservation for scheduled castes and scheduled tribes, and will lead to a total reservation of 49.5 per cent.
"It is a politically sensitive issue, but we have to decide between that and merit. I would not recommend this," said H S Singhania, Chairman, Board of Governors, IIM Lucknow.
The universities that have will have to follow the diktat from the coming academic session are accepting the move with a sense of resignation.
"If the implementation of the quota system makes a difference for the children of leaders like Lalu Prasad Yadav and Ram Vilas Paswan, it is obviously not a good move. But we have been given orders and we have to follow it," said Bhim Sen Singh, Principal, Kirori Mal College.
Institutes which the government is still to notify are staying away from the controversy at least for now.
"We have not been told about it yet. Once we are informed, our boards will meet to discuss the modalities," said Rajendra Singh, Registrar, IIT Delhi.
The decision has evoked a mixed response from the students.
"Earlier we were given reservations in jobs but not in educational institutions, so we never got the jobs either. That will no change," an OBC student said.
But others point out that any tampering with the existing reservation system will affect the quality of education.
Some students in Delhi have even launched an SMS campaign against the move.
The Congress has welcomed the proposal, saying it is a historic step in line with the Common Minimum Programme.
On the other hand, the BJP cautiously favoured the move, saying it would like to comment only after studying the proposal.
"The government has not come out with a concrete proposal. When they do, we will react to it. BJP has always been in favour of reservation based on social patterns," said Party Spokesperson Prakash Javdekar
For now, professional institutes which conduct their own entrance exams do not have to fall in line with the new system, but they will soon have to follow suit. Till then, the debate between reservations and merit is sure to gain momentum.