Fair Access To Higher Education Re-Visited--Some Results For Social And Religious Groups From Nss 61st Round Employment-Unemployment Survey, 2004-05
This paper presents some results from the NSS 61st Round Employment – Unemployment Survey, 2004-05 on the issue of fair access to social groups and religion-based population categories. The issue is whether and the extent to which the population of say, the OBCs or the Muslims (in the relevant age-group and with the qualifying level of education) is under-represented in enrollments in higher education. The answer involves (for each population category and relevant age-group) a comparison of (i) their share among those with the qualifying level of education with (ii) their share among those with the qualifying level of education and currently attending institutions for under-graduate/post-graduate studies. At the all-India level, despite a sharp rise in the share of OBCs in the total population, the extent of their under-representation in under-graduate enrollments is just 2.5 percent – down from 3.5 percent in 1999-2000 – in rural India. In urban India, the extent of OBC under-representation in under-graduate enrollments, though marginally higher than in 1999-2000, is still less than 2.0 per cent. In respect of post-graduate enrollments, the OBCs, are significantly (by nearly 4 percentage points) over-represented in rural India, while in urban India, the OBC under-representation is just 0.3 percentage points. In respect of Muslims, in rural India, they are, over-represented in under-graduate enrollments and in urban-India, the extent of under-representation of Muslims is less than one percentage. Thus, for no social/religion-based population group is the extent of under-representation in enrollments in higher-education more than 2.5 percentage points. There is thus little or no case for a 27 percent reservation for OBCs in enrollments in higher education. As for the ‘Creamy Layer’ of the OBCs, there is, even less of a case for not excluding them from any regime of quotas for the OBCs in higher education.
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