The Ministry "is putting together material on 27% quota for OBCs"

"No intention of reviewing the caste-based reservation policy"Quotas helped many members of OBCs to come up in southern States

New Delhi: The Government is putting together material that would form the basis for arriving at the decision of 27 per cent reservation for OBCs in higher education, even as it ruled out plans to review the quota policy.

"The Ministry has to put together all the material available to it reach the conclusion of 27 per cent ... The material will be put together. Wait for the material," Finance Minister P. Chidambaram said in an interview to Karan Thapar on the programme `Devil's Advocate' to be telecast on CNN-IBN on Sunday night.

The Supreme Court, on May 29, gave the Centre eights weeks to reply to a series of queries on reservation.

When repeatedly asked that his answer suggested the Government had announced a decision in favour of reservation 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 (OBC) numbers, the Mandal report and the NSSO surveys.

Mr. Chidambaram, who is a member of the Group of Ministers looking into reservation for OBCs in higher education, said the Government had no intention of reviewing the caste-based reservation policy.

"As I understand ... there is no ground to review whether there should be reservation or not. There is no ground at all ... If a review means questioning the justification of reservation 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 would be examined, Mr. 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 Mr. 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.''

On his personal position about quotas, the Finance Minister said he supported reservation.

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