Chidambaram backs Arjun Singh
New Delhi, May 1 (UNI) Finance Minister P Chidambaram today backed Human Resource Development Minister Arjun Singh on the quota issue but advocated increase in the number of seats so that meritorious students are not affected.
''We should introduce reservations. And also increase the number of seats meeting the aspirations of a larger number of people who want quality higher education,'' Mr Chidambaram told NDTV.
Yesterday, Mr Singh had taken strong exception to his cabinet colleague Kapil Sibal's comments that reservation for backward class students in institutions of higher learning would dilute excellence.
Mr Sibal, however, clarified later that his statement was not against reservation itself. In a letter to the Prime Minister, Mr Singh had pointed out that the quota issue was a collective decision of the cabinet and one minister should not criticise another in public.
Mr Chidambaram said he rejected the argument that reservations would dilute the quality of either student intake or the quality of students passing out.
''It flies in the face of facts in South India for the last 50 years,'' he said.
UNI SKS/FZ RR HS1416