ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Stay the Course

If politics is about prevailing by any means possible, then statesmanship is politics by the best possible means. The difference between the two is aptly illustrated by the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government’s handling of the proposal to introduce reservations for representatives of the other backward classes (OBCs) in central institutions of higher learning. Indeed, so distant is the government from statesmanship that it seems unable to prevail even on an issue supported by all political parties! But the government’s discomfiture is not the point. The real tragedy is that a just cause is being made to look like petty politics.

Over the past year, this journal has been part of the significant strand of national opinion that supports OBC reservations in higher education as a progressive step that is long overdue (‘Merits of Mandal II’, April 15, 2006). We have highlighted the urgent need for reliable evidence on the social composition of elite higher education; the challenges posed by internally differentiated aggregative categories like the OBCs; the imperative of engaging with crucial yet unexamined concepts like merit; and, finally, the need to design affirmative action programmes adapted to the specificities of higher and professional education. We have also expressed our deep disappointment with the Moily Committee (‘Myopic Oversight’, November 4, 2006) for having squandered an invaluable opportunity to provide alternative views on the creamy layer and other critical issues. The latest setbacks are no doubt the price paid for its inexplicable silences.

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