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PM, Advani back Mayawati's upper caste uplift call
May 17, 2007 14:13 IST
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Leader of Opposition Lal Kishenchand Advani on Thursday backed Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati's call for reservation for poor among the upper castes.
At a conference on empowerment of Dalits and minorities, the prime minister, speaking after Advani's remarks endorsing Mayawati's suggestion said, the poor children from the economically weaker sections among the forward communities should also be supported.
"If there are ideas about the problems faced by poor children from 'other' sections of the community, they should also be taken on board," Dr Singh said after promising that his government was committed to empowerment of Dalits, tribals, minorities as well as women.
In his speech, Advani said, "I welcome the comments of UP Chief Minister Mayawati that the poor among the forward castes and communities deserved the benefit of affirmative action."
The prime minister expressed hope that the conference will have new ideas on how to be more effective in meeting shared goals of achieving social and economic empowerment of all sections of the society.
He also spoke about plans for the uplift of economically and educationally backward areas with large representation of minorities.
"We will devise focused plans for bringing these backward areas at par with the rest of the country," he said.
Both Dr Singh and Advani were unanimous that Muslims lagged behind educationally.
In his speech at the conference, hosted by Deputy Speaker Charanjit Singh Atwal, the prime minister suggested that ways should be worked out to enable children to have greater access to education.
"More needs to be done and new pathways have to be found to realise education as a fundamental human right of all our children," Dr Singh said.
The prime minister also appreciated the reservation policy in educational establishments, saying the move has improved enrolment for higher studies.
"The policy of reservations in public educational institutions has helped in improving enrolment in higher education. This has further facilitated entry into jobs for Dalits. This has been an important source of social mobility, and such mobility has had a wider impact on the development process and we must persist with the effort," Dr Singh said.
His government, the prime minister said, was committed to uprading technical skills of Dalits and minorities in order to enable them to gain employment.
"We are committed to providing equal opportunity to all in securing access to credit and to employment opportunities," he remarked.
Dr Singh, however, admitted that public schooling the country has not been satisfactory.
"There is a perception that the quality gap between public schools and private schools may have widened significantly over the past few decades. I therefore believe that greater effort is required to bridge this quality gap. This is necessary if good education is not to become a preserve only of the privileged classes," he said.