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Quota should be temporary arrangement, says PM

By Our Staff Correspondent

NEW DELHI Dec. 19. The Prime Minister, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, today stressed the need to create an atmosphere for reservation in the private sector but pointed out that reservation was a temporary arrangement and real empowerment must come from education.

Addressing the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes members of Parliament who raised the issue of non-implementation of the reservation policy by private companies, particularly the disinvested public sector undertakings, Mr. Vajpayee said the issue could not be forced in a democracy, but, at the same time, reminded the private sector that it could not exist in isolation and had to be responsive to the needs of society.

The Prime Minister said the SC/ST students had to be extended quality education so that they could come up the social ladder without the aid of reservation. "Reservation is a crutch for the uplift of the suppressed classes and should not be misunderstood for foot," he said. Emphasising empowerment through education, Mr. Vajpayee recalled that Dr. B.R. Ambedkar had also stressed on education while striving for justice.

Expressing concern over the fact that the SCs had ignored education of girls -- with their percentage put at less than 10 in 100 districts of the country -- Mr. Vajpayee said millions of people continued to be victims of untouchability. Night soil is still being carried on head despite laws prohibiting it, he said.

Earlier in his welcome speech, the Union Minister for Social Justice and Empowerment, Satyanarayan Jatiya, said his Ministry had accorded highest priority to educational empowerment of the Dalits. The Minister of Tribal Affairs, Jual Oram, the Ministers of State, Sanghpriya Gautam, Kailash Meghwal, Sanjay Paswan, Ashok Pradhan, Fagan Singh Kuleste and Jaskaur Meena were among the SC/ST members of Parliament who attended the meeting.

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