Special Correspondent

"Will redress inequities and discrimination"

Reservation is an affirmative step forwardStudents from oppressed castes not devoid of meritProtesters backed by unscrupulous vested interests

NEW DELHI: The All India Democratic Women's Association (AIDWA) has extended support to the Government's proposal to provide 27 per cent reservation for the Other Backward Classes (OBCs) in higher education institutions.

This is a move to partially redress discrimination and inequities caused by the caste system for centuries in Indian society, a resolution passed at the end of a two-day AIDWA central executive committee meeting said. Girls from the Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and the Other Backward Classes (OBCs) have been especially vulnerable to this discrimination. For them, this reservation represents an important affirmative step forward, the resolution said.

According to the resolution, it was extremely unfortunate that a section of students are resorting to violent protests against reservation. They are being backed by unscrupulous vested interests, and given great visibility by a sensation seeking media. "We strongly condemn the nakedly casteist sentiments that are manifest in the manner in which the protests are being conducted. We also condemn the utter disregard shown by them for the poor patients who depend on public hospitals for their survival," it said.

The Association opposed the false argument that students from oppressed castes are devoid of merit, and that they would be accommodated at the expense of meritorious students. It must be reiterated that admissions in reserved categories are given only after students meet minimum prescribed eligibility criteria. Moreover, students from deprived sections are denied opportunities to prove their merit. The existence of private educational institutions that charge exorbitant capitation fees makes a mockery of the merit issue, because de facto these institutions are reserved for the rich.

The meet also hoped that reservation benefits the poorer and needy sections amongst the OBCs and demanded putting in place socio-economic criteria to exclude the affluent, the so-called `creamy layer.'