- Seats being added to not disturb existing quotas, Prakash Javadekar said.
- All universities will be notified soon, the Union Minister added.
- Opposition, however, says it's just a gimmick in view of Lok Sabha polls.
Union Minister for Human Resource Development Prakash Javadekar has announced a 25 per cent increase in seats across educational institutions to ensure that the 10 per cent reservation recently given to the Economically Backward Section (EWS) does not disturb existing quotas for the sheduled castes, scheduled tribes and other backward classes. The changes will be carried out from the 2019-2020 academic session, he told reporters at a press meet held in the national capital today.
The decision was taken at a meeting held with the University Grants Commission and the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) on Tuesday. Mr Javadekar said all universities will be notified to ensure that details of the EWS quota are included in their prospectuses with immediate effect.
The quota law will be applicable to all higher education institutions -- whether private or government, he said, adding that it will be implemented in the 40,000 colleges and around 900 universities in the country.
While the Constitution does provide for the quota law to be extended to private institutions, so far the law does not apply to private varsities. This makes the new law challenging to implement from this academic year, given that the design of the quota is unknown to varsities right now, and many have social inclusion programs in place.
"How we implement the quota will depend on the design of the quota which will be given to us, but in terms of class composition. Ashoka already has more than 10 per cent students from the EWS category," Bhanu Pratap Mehta, vice-chancellor of Ashoka University, told NDTV.
"We are committed to the objective of EWS inclusion, and have many social outreach programs active. How we implement additional intake will depend on the operational mandate that we will get, but we will abide by the law," he added.
Ashoka is a private university based in Sonipat, Haryana.
Tarun Shah, registrar of Ahmedabad-based private university PDPU said: "PDPU already has a quota reservation in place for SC/STs from the time of its inception 4 years ago, despite being a private university. We are awaiting a formal notice to understand how the modalities of implementation will work."
The Union Minister's announcement came a few days after President Ram Nath Kovind cleared a bill ensuring 10% reservation in government jobs and college seats for the EWS population. People from the general category who have an annual income under Rs 8 lakh and own fewer than five acres of land would be eligible for benefits under the new amendment to the constitution.
The bill was passed by the Lok Sabha on January 9 and the Rajya Sabha a day later amid opposition claims that it was just a "gimmick" aimed at profiting in the upcoming parliamentary polls. Nevertheless, the legislation was passed in the lower house with only three voting against it.
The Constitution (103 Amendment) Act-2019 came into force on Monday.
"The unreserved category is getting quota benefit for first time. If 100 seats are being offered today, they will be 125 from now on to ensure that the existing quota is not affected," he said at the press meet, adding that colleges will be given an operational mandate in a week's time.
People from the open category form less than 10% of the total population in many states, including Telangana and Tamil Nadu. So, even if they do implement the law, it is likely to be tweaked to suit their social mapping.
Mr Javadekar also announced 7th Pay Commission benefits for government institutions affiliated to the AICTE with retrospective effect from January 1, 2016. "We have sanctioned funds amounting to Rs 1,241 crore for this. It will aid 2.5 lakh teachers and academic staffers," he said.
(With inputs from IANS)