Setback for Indian caste quota plan

Affirmative action plan for lower caste students put on hold by supreme court.

    Opponents say caste-based reservation is adversely affecting quality of educational institutions [EPA]
    "Nowhere in the world do castes queue up to be branded as backward. Nowhere in the world is there a competition to become backward."
     
    Protests
     
    India sets aside 22.5 per cent of university places and jobs for "scheduled" tribes and castes such as the Dalits, once known as untouchables.
     
    Under its new policy, the government was planning to lift the quota for universities to 49.5 per cent to embrace the "other backward castes" - or OBCs - who are one rung up on India's complex social ladder.
     
    In 1990, a similar government move to increase quotas in government jobs for lower castes led to outrage, with dozens of upper-caste students burning themselves to death in protest.
     
    On Thursday, anxious upper-caste students crowding the court let out whoops of delight at the ruling and had to be restrained by security staff.
     
    Under the government's existing affirmative action scheme, members of India's "untouchable" caste as well as minority tribe members enjoy 22.5 per cent quotas in top state educational institutions.
     
    Oppression
     
    In court, students opposed to the move to expand quotas argued that it would affect the quality of institutions that place a high premium on merit.
     
    It would amount to denying equal opportunity to all as mandated by India's constitution, they argued.
     
    The federal government - a coalition of centrist and leftist political parties- has insisted that it must remove centuries of oppression of lower castes that have left them on the margins of society.

    SOURCE: Agencies


    YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

    How different voting systems work around the world

    How different voting systems work around the world

    Nearly two billion voters in 52 countries around the world will head to the polls this year to elect their leaders.

    How Moscow lost Riyadh in 1938

    How Moscow lost Riyadh in 1938

    Russian-Saudi relations could be very different today, if Stalin hadn't killed the Soviet ambassador to Saudi Arabia.

    The great plunder: Nepal's stolen treasures

    The great plunder: Nepal's stolen treasures

    How the art world's hunger for ancient artefacts is destroying a centuries-old culture. A journey across the Himalayas.