Friday, April 07, 2006

Reservations: Is Merit Being Compromised

Is merit being compromised
Sudhir P Badami
Civil & Structural Consulting Engineer, from IIT Bombay, A Concerned Citizen working actively for Solutions to Urban Challenges such as Transportation, Noise, Disaster Mitigation and Social Harmony
7 April 2006
Gilbert Buildings, 1 Babulnath 2nd Cross Lane Mumbai 400 007 India
badami 98 216 85072

When the Minister of Human Resource Development issues a statement raising the reservation quota of SC, ST and OBCs to 49.5 % from 22.5% in all Central Government educational institutions, including IITs and IIMs, is he compromising merit?

Let us examine the mode of admissions to these centres of excellence. As regard IITs, there is the most competitive Joint Entrance Examination for the under-graduate level entry. This year about 3,50,000 aspirants are reported to be appearing for the JEE this week. This is between 50 to 75% more over the figure of about 2,00,000 appearing in the JEE in the past few years. It is a direct fall out of the syllabus being made on par with 12th standard all India. There have been more students feeling confident enough to compete, many of whom I am sure, would not be attending preparatory coaching classes.

With all the preparation for the entrance examination, let it not be forgotten that it is like a one day cricket match. There is always some one doing better than you on a particular day and we are talking of a quarter of marks which can shift your rank significantly. If you are lucky that day, you might be one of the 3,500 (1 % of 3,50,000) getting the admission call. If you look at the statistics, top 10% (35,000) of 3,50,000 are almost on par, but only 1% (3,500) get admitted to IITs.

Now let us examine the number of SC, ST and OBC (in short the reservation category) candidates. It would not be wrong to expect about 2% (7,000) of students belonging to the reservation category, falling within the 10% (35,000) bright students segment? Some may be within the top 3500 but generally most would be in the lower segment of 10% bright students because of various sociological reasons. Since we do know that by and large the top 10% aspirants are on par in their capabilities and the JEE is like an ODI, it is quite in order if the constitutionally stipulated limit of 50% is met with. There will be no compromise on the standard of students selected.

Now look at the effect. These bright students joining IITs. They go further to either do research or MBA or enter job market. Whichever line they pursue, the brand IIT gets them into position of responsibility and the IIT culture of meeting challenges gets them going. The very reason of IITs been made residential schools is to not let any student get entangled with domestic and other sociological problems during the academic terms. Situations such as these enable emergence of Babasaheb Ambedkars, Narendra Jadhavs and B L Mungekars.

I am sure similar logic holds for IIMs and other centres of excellence. There is no need for students to feel deprived of opportunities if competent bright students get the best education and through such reservation, also correct the sociological aberrations our society has been suffering from over millennia.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Mumbai: On the rock or roll ?

Depending how blind you are, you may think Mumbai is on the rock or roll. I will start my blogs by and by.

Sudhir Badami