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Advani wants panel to study quota
May 28, 2006 18:40 IST
Breaking his silence on the quota controversy, Leader of Opposition L K Advani on Sunday demanded setting up of a specialist committee to study the impact of reservation and examine alternative remedies for affirmative action, which would not undermine merit or excellence.
Addressing a function here to mark the opening of a park in memory of late Hindi litterateur Gopal Prasad Vyas, the senior Bharatiya Janata Party leader said, "Merit and excellence should not be undermined while addressing the legitimate concerns of sections of society that have lagged behind for centuries."
Advani's remarks come on the eve of the party's two-day National Executive, which is expected to take a formal stand on the controversial issue.
Referring to the ongoing agitation by medicos and students against the move to hike reservation for OBCs in institutions of higher education, he said, "one should not forget that India today commands respect in the world not just because of its high growth rate, but also because it has established itself as a knowledge-society.
"This has happened because of institutions where excellence is honoured."
The former deputy Prime Minister said it was a legitimate concern that some sections of the society, which had lagged behind for centuries are specially promoted to bring them at par with others, "but there was a need to study the problem in a thorough manner".
While affirmative action is accepted worldwide, the same is not true of reservation, he said.
Advani suggested setting up of a specialist committee to study among other things who benefitted from reservation so far, is reservation the only solution, and whether there could be alternative action of a different kind, including financial assistance.
"Both these legitimate concerns should be addressed. While pursuing the goals of social justice, merit or excellence should not be undermined," he said.
Advani's remarks were in contrast to the line earlier taken by party spokesman Arun Jaitley, who had virtually supported the quota hike even while stressing on the need not to compromise on merit and making the constitutional provisions applicable to minority educational institutions.