South India favours community quotas
NDTV Correspondent, Monday, May 29, 2006 (Thiruvananthapuram):
South India is free from anti-quota protests, which dominate events in the north of the country for past 17 days. Reactions from southerners indicate their strong backing for quotas for members of the backward communities. Kerala's top nephrologist MK Mohandas from the Dalit community qualified from the reservation quota and says it gave him the opportunity.
"It is an opportunity to become part of the system that's the most important thing".
"This [quota] is not for individuals but it is for the community," said Mohandas who is a senior lecturer with the medical college in Thiruvananthapuram. Reservation policies have helped many Dalits like him in Kerala to climb the social ladder.
But more than that they could make effective use of such affirmative actions because of their high education and social awareness compared to their counterparts in other states.
Misuse of quota
In education, Kerala is tackling the problem of the 'creamy layer' – a reference to backward community families with an annual income above Rs 2.5 lakh.
Such families in Kerala do not qualify for the quota but in neighbouring Tamil Nadu 30 percent of quotas are used by the 'creamy layer' class.
CN Deivanayagam, a member of Campaign Committee for Reservation says people claim backward community benefits by using certificates, which list them in the community when they do not belong to it.
But there is also disagreement – saying Tamil Nadu's quota, which stands at 69 percent has effectively driven the forward community out of the state.
"Brahmins of Tamil Nadu are like the Jews of Germany. They are not being physically liquidated but they are being suffocated and squeezed educationally," said former UN information consultant SR Madhu.
Anti-reservation campaigners say merit will be compromised, but in higher education, another kind of reservatin exists.
Quota supporters want to know why "seats for the highest bidder" haven't attracted the same prospects – a reference to private colleges mushrooming all over the country.
In Karnataka, hundreds of rich students and NRIs benefit from privatisation of professional education where marks don't matter as much as money.
"As far as any Indian salaries are concerned with any government official… I don't think their income is more than Rs 2 lakhs and it's totally illogical to pay Rs 7 lakhs per year by any student, " said Nagendran, a backward class doctor.