The Polit Bureau of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) has issued the following statement:
On Reservation in Educational Institutions
1. The Constitutional provision of reservation for socially and economically backward classes is meant to provide access to education and jobs for the scheduled castes, scheduled tribes and other backward classes.
This provision for reservation is a partial acknowledgement of the inequities of the caste system and the discrimination and deprivation that it entailed for centuries in Indian society.
The CPI(M) has viewed such reservation as a limited step to provide opportunities for the dalits, adivasis and other backward classes to acquire education and jobs. At the same time, the CPI(M) has stressed that there can be no emancipation without basic land reforms and changes in the socio-economic system which breed exploitation and inequality.
2. Extension for OBC reservation to education is based on the same principle as its application to jobs. The CPI(M) supports reservation in higher educational institutions for SC, ST and OBC. The state governments are to decide the quantum of reservation in the institutions run by them. In higher education, since there is a scarcity of seats, especially in professional institutions, reservation should be accompanied by a commensurate increase in the number of seats in the institutions run or aided by the Central government.
According to the UGC Chairman, there was provision for an increase of 10 per cent annually in the seats in colleges for which financial allocations have been made in the tenth five year plan.
3. While the CPI(M) is for reservation, it has maintained that distinct from the scheduled castes and scheduled tribes, there is differentiation among the other backward classes. Reservation should benefit the poorer and needy sections among these communities. For this, there has to be a socio-economic criteria which excludes the affluent and those already having access to jobs and higher education. This came to be known as exclusion of the “Creamy Layer” based on the Supreme Court judgement on the implementation of the Mandal Commission report.
4. While expanding the seats in educational institutions, students coming from weak and poorer background and who do not come in the reservation categories should also be provided for through a separate allocation of seats.
5. The government of India should prepare a proposal which should be put for a public debate, so that the widest agreement is reached before it is taken up for implementation.
6. Alongwith this, the government should immediately prepare a legislation for regulating all private higher educational institutions. The legislation should enable state governments to regulate admission and fees in all private higher educational institutions which are aided or unaided. The crass commercialisation of higher education has closed the doors for a large number of deserving students irrespective of their background and even when they have the necessary qualifications and merit. Social control of the burgeoning “educational industry” is an urgent necessity.