Don’t tweak OBC creamy layer norms, abolish NEET, Stalin writes to PM Modi

Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam President M K Stalin on Wednesday opposed any move to tweak criteria for determining the creamy layer among the Other Backward Classes (OBC), saying it would deprive deserving candidates from availing reservation benefits as well as welfare schemes of the Central government. 

In a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the DMK leader urged him not to include salary and farm income to figure out beneficiaries for reservation in education and jobs and for welfare schemes and continue the existing policy. Stalin who is also the leader of opposition in the Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly urged the PM to abolish NEET for medical admissions.

Read the unedited text of the letter:

Hon’ble Prime Minister,

Vanakkam!

Sub:

  1. Reverse decision to include salary as a component for OBC creamy layer calculation
  2. Abolition of All India Quota Admissions in Medical courses
  3. Abolition of The National Eligibility cum Entrance Test for admissions to UG, PG, Diploma in Medical courses

With over 7 lakh Covid-19 cases and 20000+deaths, the entire nation has been facing the brunt of this pandemic. However, even amidst this unprecedented crisis, marginalized sections of society are at a greater disadvantage than others. At such a time, certain decisions taken by the Central Government need to be reconsidered in order to preserve the best interests of all citizens and ensure that opportunities remain equitable and fair to all our people.

Reverse decision regarding inclusion of Salary in OBC Creamy Layer Calculation

The base underlying factor behind reservation is social and educational backwardness, not economic backwardness. Economic criterion is against the spirit of reservation. That is the reason why it has not found a place in our Constitution in regard to reservation. We have been opposing the Creamy Layer issue right from the start. Hence, including salary to be part of the income test to categorize the creamy layer with OBC ignores the social barriers that continue to exist for marginalized communities in India. Creamy Layer itself is not part of the original reservation package. In 1980, Mandal commission categorized 52% of the population, classifying 1257 communities as backward class, which clearly shows the size of this group and scale of impact of this decision on this social category. Even the National Commission for Backward Classes (NCBC) had expressed its objection to this proposal as it fails to serve in the best interests of the backward class people.

At this juncture I would request you to reject BP Sharma Committee’s report on the concept of creamy layer. The expert committee, in the name of streamlining and simplifying the concept of creamy layer has recommended restrictions of OBC’s with regard to availing of the reservation benefits. More so NCBC is constituted under Art 340. Being a constitutional body, it is specifically entrusted with the functions relating to investigate the conditions of socially and educationally backward classes with in the territory of India and the difficulties under which they labour and to make recommendations as to the steps to be taken to remove such difficulties and to improve their conditions. Therefore an expert committee entrusted with the said functions cannot be countenanced in law and would undermine the creation of NCBC itself.

As matters regarding reservation require action by the State government and as this decision severely impacts lakhs of citizens across the country, I urge you to reverse this decision on priority and ensure the livelihoods of OBC are protected, especially in this time of crisis.

Abolition of All India Quota Admissions in Medical Courses

The concept of an ‘All India Quota’ (AIQ) by carving out a certain percentage of seats in all the State medical colleges located across the country and the seats in central educational institutions for students to compete from without any domicile or institutional barrier was conceived by the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India in its 1984 judgment. As of today, the AIQ is a creature of judicial pronouncement and does not haveany statutory backing. After 36 years, the need for such a quota is no longer relevant owing to the increased number of medical colleges in every state. Medical education being squarely a matter of governance should be administered by the Parliament and the State Legislature, taking into account the changing needs.

The All India Quota seats in medical and dental admissions should be abolished and State Governments should be left to have their own selection process including setting apart some seats as unreserved seats after fulfilling their reservation obligations. The power of the State to bring in independent legislation to have their own selection process to admit their students and from other States is always available. Considering that a large amount of medical colleges have been established in all States, and the need for reservation of seats for students from other States to compete has largely reduced, the Central Government can abolish the AIQ, and instead leave it to the discretion of the State to fix some percentage of “un reserved seats” which will enable students from other States to compete in unreserved quota after allocating the state reservations for SC/ST and OBC. Therefore, there need not be any separate percentage of seats allotted for All India Quota in this regard.

Abolition of NEET

The introduction of NEET has caused some serious problems to medical education in the state of Tamil Nadu. Firstly, the examination completely decimates the right of the state to regulate medical education. The federal structure of medical education stands violated when the Central Government unilaterally passes an order, which undermines the State government’s authority over this concurrent subject under List III of Schedule VII of the constitution. Also, the NEET obviously places those who studied in CBSE schools at an advantage than those who study at state board schools, because different state boards follow different syllabi and textbooks, leading to different standards of education. It is unfair to the students who have studied in other boards. Finally, from the last 3 years of the NEET, is clear that only students who are able to go for private coaching are able to score in this examination. These private coaching classes are unaffordable for many students in the state who face an unfair disadvantage. These problems are further highlighted by a 17% decrease in the number of students from Tamil Nadu who applied for NEET 2020. The amendment introducing this additional examination has only caused hardships and struggles to parents and students. I humbly request you to abolish the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test for UG, PG And Diploma seats in all medical and dental courses by bringing in suitable amendments through an Ordinance in The Indian Medical Council Act 1956, The Dentists Act, 1948 and The National Medical Commission Act, 2019 and leaving it to the discretion of the State to have their own selection process.

In light of the issues I have highlighted above, I urge you to

a) Reverse the decision to include salary in OBC creamy layer calculation

b) Abolish All India Quota for medical courses

c) Abolish NEET and allow individual states to govern their medical education

With the country being in such a precarious situation with the pandemic, inequalities are only going to be more exacerbated. In such a situation, it is very difficult to continue with policies that only work to maintain existing inequalities or increase it. I humbly request you to kindly look into these matters and ensure that the interests of OBCs in India are protected.
Thanking you,

M.K. Stalin