UGC chief Thorat says quota won’t affect academic standards
Batting for caste-based reservations, the University Grants Commission (UGC) chairman Prof Sukhdeo Thorat has said reservations do not affect educational standards in institutions. The UGC is the apex body for determination and maintenance of standards of university education in the country.
In the latest issue of Economic and Political Weekly, Prof Thorat has written, ''In case of education, providing admission to persons with lesser grades does not carry the potential of affecting educational standards. It only provides low caste groups the prospect of accessing education without any significant relaxation in passing grades or marks.''
''But despite this, other writings on these themes have overplayed the issue of merit. Much of it has come without adequate empirical evidence,'' says Thorat, who was the director of Delhi-based Indian Institute of Dalit Studies before being appointed as the UGC chairman in February this year. His views on the reservation issue does embolden HRD Minister Arjun Singh's agenda of implementing OBC quotas in the premier academic institutions.
Thorat, also a key member of the Oversight Committee, suggests, ''There is a need to set up an Equal Opportunity Commission/Office and bring under its purview all reservation policies related to women, the SCs, the STs, the OBCs, religious minorities, and the physically challenged under one umbrella organisation.''
On the issue of exclusion of creamy layer, UGC chief indicates at not excluding the well-off sections. ''As such, there is little research on this issue and in the absence of any evidence, it is too early to say whether the relatively better-off sections should be excluded from the purview of the reservation policy. This will require use to that critical minimum ''economic level'', which would enable the lower caste to overcome the discrimination on the basis of economic strength...this will vary from caste to caste depending on the caste of discrimination.''
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