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Pitroda meets PM amid Knowledge Commission rift on OBC quota

Written by: Staff
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New Delhi, May 10 (UNI) Mr Sam Pitroda and other members of the Knowledge Commission, which is divided on the controversial issue of OBC quota in premier government-run higher educational institutions such as IITs and IIMs, today met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

The commission's members are understood to have expressed their respective views to the Prime Minister who wants to strike a balance between merit and means in the matter of providing access to higher education.

Six of the eight members of the commission are opposed to any immediate reservation for OBC students and want the government to explore avenues of affirmative action to help such students.

The quota row had come to the fore recently following Human Resource Development Minister Arjun Singh's remarks, sparking an agitation by students across the country and objections from the Election Commission.

The EC had sought explanations from the Minister twice for violating the model code of conduct which was in force until the last round of assembly polls on May 8. Mr Arjun Singh had also called on the full commission last week to personally explain his position.

Launching the commission on August 2, 2005, Dr Singh had announced his government's full support and asked it to come out with ''bold proposals aimed at improving excellence in research and teaching, especially in the frontier areas of mathematics, science and technology.'' ''India cannot afford to lag behind the rest of the world...The time has come for us to create a second wave of institution building and of excellence in the field of education, research and capability building in India so that we are better prepared for the 21st century,'' the Prime Minister had said.

Mr Pitroda, who had confirmed in Bangalore yesterday the division in the commission, would address the press here tomorrow.

Dr Jayati Ghosh and Dr P M Bhargava support the extension of reservation, subject to certain conditions.

Outlining the recommendations of the commission on e-governance at the end of the three-day sitting of the Commission in Bangalore, Mr Pitroda said there was a need to create a national infrastructure and the Commission would use open source technology wherever possible.

It has also recommended the appointment of a specialist Chief Information Technology Officer (CITO) and the setting of an inter-Ministerial group to be headed by the Prime Minister.

UNI SN RP RS1918

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