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Reservations Against Implementing Reservations

By on Apr 10, 2008 in Stop The Press | 10 comments

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I know that I should be studying right now, but something happened today that that affects mine and the lives of countless other students around this country. Around a year ago, the Indian Government proposed a low in the Parliament which would reserve a whopping 50% of the seats in higher education institutions around the country for ‘backward castes’. It was passed almost unanimously by all political parties, and then got stuck in the Supreme Court because of a litigation filed by concerned students.

Today, the Supreme Court of India passed an order allowing the quota to be implemented. Reservations for ‘scheduled castes’, ‘scheduled tribes’, and ‘other backward castes’ is now a reality. IIM Ahmedabad, for example, has already decided to delay its admission procedure to implement it. This sucks. Totally. This also means that the boffins would want to implement it for the scores of medical and engineering entrance exams. Now think about it – out of around the 4000 seats that the IITs have, only 2000 are now available to the ‘general’ category students. First thing – India’s higher education system is hugely overburdened. MIT has around 8000 undergrads. NTU Singapore has around 19000 undergrads. But SEVEN Indian Institutes of Technology, combined, offer only around 4000; out of which 2000 are now out of bounds for a large number of candidates. How prudent is that?

I am not a kid who wants to keep out ‘them folk from rural areas out of IITs’. I’m perfectly aware that in India, not everyone gets equal opportunities for education. So why disadvantage someone, just because of who their parents / ancestors are? I feel that by the very act of labelling some castes ‘backward’ or ‘scheduled’, it makes that tag stick to them throughout their lives. Take USA for example. Although it’s a demonstrated statistic that African-Americans and Hispanics ON AN AVERAGE (mind these three words) score lower, yet, they don’t say “Let’s reserve 50% of the seats for these guys”. NO! Instead, US universities and the government give oodles of scholarship money / grants to deserving students from economically weaker students, and academically talented ones. Across the globe, in other countries like France and Germany, the government foots a large part of, or almost all, of the higher education bill for students.

It is no wonder that these countries are far more advanced than us, and that some of the most brilliant minds from our own country, especially in advanced sciences, want to go and work there. Over there, the understand the importance of having skilled workers; but without a doubt, they also strive to do more for the people who are REALLY facing obstacles in their attempt to get through a college. Words like “Woohoo, India’s becoming a superpower” will only remain limited to the usual annual ‘feel-good’ editions of India Today and Outlook, if India doesn’t take the same path.

Then comes the question of the logic behind the reservations itself. Even if we for a moment forget the fact that calling some castes ‘backward’ is being so glorified, is there statistical data to prove that we need reservations? IMHO, I don’t think so. These reservations were mostly based on the Mandal Commission report (a special panel set up by the government quite a few years back), which was based on the 1951 Census of India. A 1931 Census on the condition of backward castes is now being extrapolated around EIGHTY years later to provide reservations. Yes, back then, things were bad for them; but is it equally valid to reserve HALF of the seats, fifty years later?

The root cause lies in votes. The politicians know that the youth (and mostly, the urban youth) whom this decision affects the most doesn’t matter a pence to them. One, because our numbers are small compared to rest of the nation; two, because this segment demands work to be done, rather than get swayed by caste politics; but third, and most important of all, we people vote less. It has come to such an extent that the number of ‘backward castes’ have been multiplying like rabbits as politicians across every region try to appease voters by getting them on the gravy train of reservations everywhere. Normally, around the world, people would feel offended if tagged ‘backward’; in India, there are communities which are lobbying to do get named so.

The fact the government’s so-called ‘youth leaders’ don’t care either is evident from the fact that the college wings of political parties haven’t protested so far. Neither have politicians like Rahul Gandhi, Sachin Pilot, etc. When it comes to stuff like this, all they remain in party meetings is ‘Rahul baba’ – a guy who’s there because of his family name, and not for doing work.

Not satisfied with just government colleges, they now want to push this for private colleges too. Parties are already clamouring for that. Ramadoss (the health minister), who I’m sure was one of the major lobbyists for that law on reservations, ‘expressed disappointment’ over the fact that the Supreme Court also said that affluent members of ‘backward castes’ should be excluded from the system. With quite a few state elections this year and the Parliament elections next year, none of the parties will ‘risk’ going against reservation.

As I said earlier, the seats in institutes are already less, and a ruling like this creates more stress on students. With the IITs having only 2000 seats for the ‘general’ public, cutoffs for institutes like NITs, DCE, NSIT (whose own number of seats for ‘general public’ will go down) – and especially private ones like BITS Pilani and VIT will only go up. The government needs to stop spending taxpayers’ money – YOUR money – on schemes like these.

Open more universities. Set up scholarship schemes. Get the dream of a knowledge-driven superpower by 2020 / 2050 / 2080 / never away from being a dream, and into reality.



10 Comments

  1. Maneel

    April 10, 2008

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    The ‘backward’ castes go to school.. guess what ? They get a quota. They go to college… quota welcomes them here. B School ? Woohoo! Quota again! Job ? Don’t worry! There are always government jobs with quotas and faster promotions for the backward guys.

    This guys don’t need to study/work for anything in life. Even if they go bankrupt, the ministry which handles these guys’ affairs will take care of them. Getting everything for free… thats what makes them backward. They are welcome to become modern, advanced and all that which many of them already are. But that does not mean pulling us, the ‘forward’ guys on the paper backward.

    @Ankur… I guess you’ve applied to IIT and it might be Tribal Music to your ears that… well, the Physics cutoff for one of the previous years’ IIT-JEE was 0 for the backward guys… zero!

  2. Ankur

    April 10, 2008

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    @Maneel: I wouldn’t say that all ‘backward caste’ people are like that. Many of them work hard to achieve where they are, and get it on merit. The point is, government colleges don’t give the reserved seats to general category students, even if there aren’t enough SC/ST/OBC students. That’s a waste of resources. And the criteria for reservation is flawed.

    Yes, I’m aware of cutoff score. For general category, the scores were 3, 4, and 1. That’s because IIT has changed criteria for cutoffs. http://www.ankurb.info/2008/03/17/electric-arc-41-single-digit-jee-2007-cutoffs/

  3. Maneel

    April 10, 2008

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    The point is, the honest backwards don’t get there… because well, they’re the real backwards.

    But I did talk to someone and there’s some good news too. This new quote will only apply to guys with an annual family income of less than 2.5 L. Also, sons of MPs and MLAs have been excluded from the quota.

    For the 3,4 and 1, there is still a difference between knowing something and knowing nothing. (Although I do acknowledge the negative marking, but even if you study slightly you wouldn’t mark 4 wrongs for each answer you get right)

  4. achyuth sanjay

    April 11, 2008

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    to add one more point to ur post, the reservations, when they were suggested more than FIFTY years back, was to be there for 2 5-yr plans so that the backward classes can catch up with the mainstream. but its been 10 5-yr plans and politicians refuse to remove it because of vote bank politics!!!
    i was shocked to hear Ramadoss say “i am disappointed that it is not there for the affluent members of the backward classes”!!!!!!! hell man, reservations are there to help the underprivileged people, and people are confusing economic status with caste!!!
    2.5 lakh per annum is good, but considering India, i positively feel that it won’t be implemented well. i might as well pay a few bucks and make an OBC certificate for myself.

    50 years down the line-status of IITJEE
    General cat. – solve the paper
    SC/ST- just put down the question number
    OBC- just sit in the hall for 3 hours!!!!

  5. Ankur

    April 11, 2008

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    @Maneel: IITs cutoff criteria has changed. Therefore the subject cutoffs are low. Overall cutoff, in fact, rose last year.

    @Achyuth: Yes, the reservations were only supposed to be for an interim period, but every time since then it has come up for voting in the Parliament, and it has been extended.

    However, there is hope. The SC has recommended that the cutoff for OBCs be kept a maximum of 10 marks below the general category.

  6. anuj

    April 11, 2008

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    I was going to write a post on this and this post what *was* going to be in it, in short I agree.

  7. “Take USA for example. Although it’s a demonstrated statistic that African-Americans and Hispanics ON AN AVERAGE (mind these three words) score lower, yet, they don’t say “Let’s reserve 50% of the seats for these guys”. NO! Instead, US universities and the government give oodles of scholarship money / grants to deserving students from economically weaker students, and academically talented ones.”

    — That precisely is the crux of the matter. If only some people understood!

  8. pratyush

    April 15, 2008

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    is 40 marks sufficient for a “sc” candidate to even qualify in preparatory course in IIT-JEE 2008 ?plz answer accurately…!!

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