ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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The Curious Case of OBC Reservations

A close look at how university administrations are misinterpreting the laws and rules regarding OBC reservation in central educational institutes to deny admission to eligible candidates. Such "surplus" seats are then quickly converted to general category seats. From the available evidence, it appears that there is an element of deliberate mischief in the series of misinterpretations and confusions which have led to this situation. The government should immediately take remedial measures to stop such malpractice.

The third and final stage in the i mplementation of Other Backward Classes (OBC) reservation in the central universities and other higher educational institutions as per the Central Educational Institutions (Reservation in Admissions) Act, 2006 has come to a close some months back. Many of the central educational institutions (CEIs) have reserved 27% of the total seats for OBC students for the academic year 2010-11 and correspondingly increased the total intake of students by 54% of the intake of 2006. The projected expenditure on the infrastructural development for the increase in seats was Rs 17,000 crore. But hardly any attempt has been made to ascertain how effectively the CEI Act has been implemented by the universities and institutions which are publicly funded. I intend to take a look at some of the problems that have jinxed the success of the CEI Act. These include lack of adequate data about the situation of the non-creamy layer OBCs, misguided rules, quirky interpretations and ad hoc interim measures which have come to stay in place of clearly thought-out p olicies, and more often than not, a lack of will among the executioners of the government policy.

The specific context of this article is the way in which a certain capricious interpretation has effectively excluded a very large number of OBC students from getting access to centrally-funded institutions of higher education. Official orders are not the kind of texts with which one would associate the possibility of multiple readings. But in this case, an office order from the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRd) dated 17 October 2008 has been s ubjected to such varied interpretations and, contrary to expectations, there seems to have been no attempt made to ascertain what would be the most equitable interpretation. Before we look at the said office order, let us take a look at what the scenario is in terms of actual filling up of seats.

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