Sanjeev Kumar Patro

Bhubaneswar: Odisha government is mulling to provide a ten per cent reservation for students who have ten years of schooling (Class I-X) in the State-run government schools. However, the deserving candidate has to clear the JEE/NEET exams, revealed highly placed sources in the State Law Department.

The State Government apparently looked confident in implementing the proposal from next academic year as it doesn’t see any legal trouble in implementing the historic proposal made by the State Cabinet.

When contacted to State Advocate General Ashok Parija, he said, “I am on leave. All legal details will be discussed in the New Year.”

However, a very senior official in the State Law department dismissed any legal challenge to the new reservation policy proposal of the Odisha government.

“This will be a quota within quota. Therefore, we don’t see any legal hurdle to the proposal. The State of Karnataka is providing 20 per cent reservation of seats in professional courses for rural students,” he explained.

Elaborating it further, the senior official disclosed that there is a proposal to have 10 per cent reservation of seats for government-owned Odia medium schools. The reservation policy will not be extended to government-aided schools. The State at present has 33 per cent seats reserved in medical/engineering colleges for the categories like SC, ST, PWD (People with disabilities and green card holders (families with only 2 children), he added.

Odisha at present has no reservation for the OBC category. The OBC candidates only get relaxation in marks for admission into medical/engineering courses.

School Education Statistics

As per Union HRD Ministry data, Odisha has around 1,479 government-controlled senior secondary schools (means schools having classes from I-X), and another over 500 senior secondary schools that are under private or government-aided management. Since eligibility to get admission to medical or engineering courses to require the minimum educational qualification of plus 2, the annual admission to +2 courses in the State on an average stood at over 90k till 2019.

  • Only around 31 per cent secondary and higher secondary government and aided schools in State have science laboratories.
  • Teacher vacancy in government-controlled high schools in 2019 stood high at 8,498

Politics Of Reservation

With the ruling BJD having decided to go to the town with the likely 10 per cent quota in medical and engineering colleges for pass out students from Odisha government-controlled schools to reap rich political dividends, Union Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan today shot off a missive to CM Naveen Patnaik urging him to implement reservation of seats in admission to medical and engineering colleges for the other backward castes (OBC).

“The delay and ambivalence displayed by the Odisha government in taking affirmative action for OBCs and SEBCs is a glaring disservice to the spirit of balancing scales of socio-economic development in the State,” Pradhan wrote to CM Naveen Patnaik.

As per observers, the letter of the Union Minister Dharmendra Pradhan has seemingly touched the raw nerves in ruling BJD. This is a move by BJP to make the ruling BJD go on the defensive, they added.

BJD Knows Its Weak Point?

According to observers, while taking the quota decision, the ruling BJD has calculated the SWOT of its epochal decision. Because Naveen-led government knows its weaknesses and threats.

Odisha government didn’t implement OBC reservation in State. The reason is had the State government implemented the 27 per cent reservation for OBCs, then its reservation proportion in medical and engineering colleges will transgress the sacrosanct limit of 50 per cent reserved seats set by the country’s Apex court.

And BJP has exactly decided to attack the ruling BJD where it hurts, observers feel.

Even CM Naveen Patnaik has anticipated this coming the BJD way, and, for which, CM Naveen Patnaik, on the very day had approved a proposal to conduct the survey of backward class in the State. Observers see the step by CM Naveen Patnaik as a lollipop to OBCs.