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What the quota panel told the government

By George Iype
August 07, 2006 17:29 IST
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The interim report of the Oversight Committee on the reservation policy has recommended that the new reservation regime should commence from the 2007-2008 academic year.

To implement the policy, the seats in all central government education institutions should be hiked by 54 per cent so that the number of seats in the general category remains unchanged, the Committee says.

The Prime Minister's Office had constituted the Committee in May to monitor the implementation of the United Progressive Alliance government's decision to provide 27 per cent additional reservation for students from the socially and educationally backward classes, or the Other Backward Classes, in institutes of higher education.

The Committee, which presented its interim report to the PMO last week, consisted of seven experts from the fields of education and research and five secretaries in the Central government from ministries such as human resource development, health and family welfare, agriculture and finance. Senior Congress leader and former Karnataka chief minister M Veerappa Moily headed the Committee.

The report says before considering the creation of additional infrastructure and faculty, it should be ensured that the existing infrastructure and faculty in the institutions of higher learning are optimally used.

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The Committee says the expansion of the institutes' capacity will have to be designed by taking into account the infrastructure requirement, availability and utilisation; strategies of faculty recruitment and remuneration; reorientation of relevant courses; ways of strengthening research capacity of institutions; and the social profile of existing and potential students.

Some other key recommendations were:

  • Expansion, inclusion and excellence should be the moving spirit behind the new reservation policy. The institutions of higher learning should keep these three principles in view while determining threshold marks for admission to OBC students. While expanding the intake, care should be taken to ensure capacities are expanded in subjects or areas with employment opportunities.
  • Institutions of higher learning which have established a global reputation (like the Indian Institutes of Technology, Indian Institutes of Management, the Indian Institute of Science and the All India Institute of Medical Sciences) can only maintain that if the highest quality in both faculty and students is ensured. Therefore, the threshold for admission should be determined by the respective institutions alone, as is done today, commensurate with the level of its excellence.
  • Additional student intake should be matched by commensurate infrastructural facilities. Each institution will prepare a Detailed Project Report giving timelines and required budgetary outlays.
  • All institutions will need additional physical space, construction of new college and hostel buildings, additional laboratories, library facilities, books, furniture and equipment, computer laboratories, campus wireless connectivity, video conferencing and information-technology enabled classrooms. Optimal use should be made of the existing infrastructure. Necessary delegation of powers and increased autonomy will have to be provided to ensure the necessary infrastructure will be put in position at the earliest.
  • Set up an Empowered Committee in each institution; HRD ministry to give the necessary approvals and sanctions.
  • Wherever land acquisition is necessary for setting up the infrastructure, appropriate administrative orders will have to be issued for removing any bottlenecks and for placing the process on a fast track.
  • Raise the age of superannuation faculty staff in IITs and IIMs to 65 years in order to overcome faculty shortage. Engage retiring faculty on a three-year contract, extendable up to the age of 70 years.
  • Engage visiting or adjunct faculty on attractive terms. Assign additional workload to existing faculty, within reasonable limits.  Motivate the existing faculty with additional compensation.
  • Provide a one-time joining allowance/relocation grant, jobs for spouses and assured admission in schools to children to reduce attrition among competent faculty. Develop an action plan for quality improvement and upgrading the skills of the existing faculty.
  • Establish a National Centre for Faculty Development and conduct sequential summer programmes for faculty development to provide affirmative action with long term benefits.
  • Enhance faculty based on a rational and viable teacher-student ratio. An unreasonable and nonviable ratio would impede the process of implementing the reservation policy.

'We should analyse and assess the number of students aspiring for higher education currently and the estimates for the next 20 years. This would enable us to understand not only the requirements for infrastructure, but also for faculty, courses and research activities,' the report added.

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George Iype