The states may also have to permit colleges funded by them to expand capacity so as to fulfil the EWS quota.
Political compulsions are known to be driving the economic reservation policy that was made into law recently. A spin-off from this revolutionary sounding 10 per cent quota for the economically weaker sections is seats in higher education have received a gigantic spur with the Union HRD Ministry calling for a 25 per cent increase in their number in Centrally-funded institutions, including elite institutions like the IITs, the business schools and technical colleges within two academic years. A huge financial outlay is needed for building infrastructure, faculty and laboratory facilities to make the additional 3 lakh seats available in a short time. With presidential assent having come already, there has been a newfound zeal to initiate action on the expansion of seats as elections are also around the corner. The additional seats that will educate and empower more students are to be welcomed wholeheartedly, regardless of any legal challenge the reform itself may face.
The states may also have to permit colleges funded by them to expand capacity so as to fulfil the EWS quota. None would like to be left behind as the potential vote-catching attractions of the quota have already kicked in. It is moot where the money is going to come from to create new capacity, but this will help fulfil a greater need of the nation, which is to spend far more on higher education. What we are seeing here is just the thrust given by the new quota. In reality, far more must be done to see our young citizens better qualified in all branches of education and not only in engineering and technology. Upping the quality of education is also a great challenge, but nothing should come in the way of ensuring that the number of quotas as well as open classification seats increase.
There is another area in which we need to catch up too, regardless of whether the EWS quota should apply or not, and that is in the field of medical education. The inadequacy of the total numbers — India has about 50,000 medical and dental education seats per year in 370 colleges for a population in excess of 130 crore — has been a sore point for decades. India may be producing more doctors in an academic year than any other country, but the need for more just to catch up with the ideal ratio of one doctor for every 1,000 population, the country needs to set up close to 200 medical colleges in the next three years. If universal healthcare were to be set up for all Indians, the country may need 6 lakh more doctors and 10 lakh nurses. Quotas are only a part of seat allocation. The point is far more medical seats are needed and no incentive has proved big enough yet to impel infra building in this important segment.