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The Rediff Interview/Veerappa Moily, head, quota oversight committee
'The anti-quota attitude is over'
September 08, 2006
He has published a long commentary on the Ramayana and also been a newspaper columnist. The central government has given him two hats.
He heads the oversight commission which is preparing a roadmap for the implementation of quota for Other Backward Classes in central universities and institutions. He also heads the Administrative Reforms Commission. He spoke with Aravind Gowda.
How will quotas be implemented?
The oversight committee is assisted by five expert groups on management education, technology and engineering, health, agriculture and central universities. The committee feels quotas should be implemented from the next academic year (2007-2008). After studying the interim reports from the respective expert groups we decided that the implementation will revolve around three principles -- expansion, inclusion and excellence.
Some institutions are saying they can't implement it or that they can do it only very slowly?
It may appear an uphill task as we have a mindset, we work in silos. The institutions have said that they are not in favour of implementing quotas in one go but in phases, over two to three years. They have posed a number of problems about infrastructure, faculty and funding. We have responded to their problems positively, worked out a financial package of Rs 16,700 crore for central institutions to implement quotas over five years, synchronised with the 11th Five Year Plan.
Securing clearance from various line ministries for expansion can delay implementation?
No, we have worked out a solution. We have recommended to the government to set up an empowered committee for each of the five sectors. These committees will extend financial, administrative and technical sanctions to the institutions under the overall supervision of the line ministries.
So where exactly does the acceptance of these proposals by the government and the institutions stand?
It will come as a matter of course as these interim proposals have been arrived at after due deliberation with various authorities. As far as faculty is concerned we have said you can go to the market or extend the retirement age up to 65 years. Ultimately, the decision has to be taken by the governing councils of the respective institutions and universities. We have indicated many proactive, innovative measures and will incorporate them in the final report.
What are the hurdles you see in the way of this?
All the expert groups have submitted their final reports. Subsequently, we called a meeting of all the heads of departments, had a direct interaction with the heads of the expert groups, directors and vice-chancellors of universities. We had a separate meeting with eminent personalities, industry bodies and experts to create a national consensus. Now we are in the process of preparing the final draft of the oversight committee's recommendations. By September 15, we will submit the final report to the government.
Will the institutions agree to what is being recommended?
They have responded positively. The negative attitude when the government announced the OBC quota does not exist anymore. They know that the government understands their problems and the oversight committee has addressed them. The level of satisfaction is very high. Now we feel that there are some courses for which reservation can be implemented at one go. There are some courses which require two years time, others three years.
Another Pay Commission is being talked about and at the IITs many faculty positions remain vacant. There is a feeling you have to pay better to get better faculty.
That is one of the major factors we are looking into. We may consider keeping these institutions out of the Pay Commission. Even within the Pay Commission there are other non-monetary considerations which can be segmented. Like consultancy, there are several packages. These will find a place in the final report.
There is an increasing concern about the quality of governance. What are your thoughts on administrative reforms for better governance?
The Administrative Reforms Commission as just submitted its report on the Right to Information Act on how to build it into the governance process. It is the most important weapon to eradicate corruption. It can usher in transparency and accountability. It may change the whole mindset of officialdom. We have also given a financial system for the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme, how transparency and accountability can be introduced in the way funds are spent.
There are a lot of instances where state governments are not authorising prosecution of officials. What is your position?
I cannot change the person, I can change the systems of governance. An honest system will drive out dishonest people. I gave a report on VAT and the entire nation has adopted it. Wherever VAT has been introduced, evasion is less than 10 per cent.
Earlier, in our states, evasion was 60 per cent. Do you think we have transformed the sales tax officers. No, we changed the system.
We are thinking of giving more powers to the Lok Ayuktas to prosecute, monitor, take suo motu action. They need not take government permission to prosecute officials. This will be part of the recommendations. The report on ethics in governance will be submitted on October 2.
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