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Govt won't review quota policy: Chidambaram
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June 10, 2006 10:48 IST

The government, which has proposed expanding quotas for OBCs in higher education, has not yet established the basis for arriving at the decision and also has no plans to review the country's caste-based reservation policy, says Finance Minister P Chidambaram.

Though the Centre has plenty of time to reply to the Supreme Court's queries on reservation, including its rationale, the lack of a clear basis casts doubts on the fairness of the government's decision to expand quotas.

"The ministry has to put together all the material available to reach the conclusion of 27 per cent... The material will be put together. Wait for the material," Chidambaram said in an interview to 'Devil's Advocate' to be telecast on CNN-IBN on Sunday night.

The court, on May 29, gave the Centre eights weeks to reply to a series of queries on reservations.

When repeatedly asked that his answer suggested the government had announced a decision in favour of reservations without evaluating the need, he said, "The government will answer in a proper forum, in Parliament, in the Supreme Court, (but) not in an interview."

He, however, said the government would compile its answers on the basis of various state reports of Other Backward Classes numbers, the Mandal report and the NSSO surveys.    

Chidambaram, who is a member of the group of ministers looking into reservations for OBCs in higher education, said the government has no intention of reviewing the caste-based reservation policy.

"As I understand... there is no ground to review whether there should be reservations or not. There is no ground at all... If a review means questioning the justification of reservations, I say no," he said.

On Union Minister of Statistics and Programme Implementation Oscar Fernandes' written assurance to students that their demand for setting up a non-political commission to review the existing reservation policy, Chidambaram said it was not the government's position as yet.

"The government's position is the position that will be taken in the Cabinet. A group of ministers is advisory. If Fernandes has said it will be examined, I'm sure he means every word (and) it will be examined ... (then) it will come to the Cabinet for a decision. I cannot now say what the decision will be," he said.

On his personal position about quotas, the finance minister said he supports reservation.

"Amongst all the instruments available to us for affirmative action, the one that has proved most effective is reservations. Experience tells us that... reservations have helped many, many, many members of the OBCs to rise in the southern states. I am totally convinced about that," he said.

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