April 20, 2006

Netas' Quotas

April 20, 2006 Posted by Vijay , 8 comments
Neta typifies what an Indian Politician stands for. The hands folded greeting that he gives to all his blind followers, who he finally cheats once his means of winning the election is done. And it is sad that even in prime boom time of India, these Netas still rule the roost. And vote bank politics it seems is back with a bang to sting again. In this context one hopes that the new party, the one with a difference, LOK PARITRAN formed by 5 former IITians creates some semblance of a change. But, when a Prime Minister as educated as our Manmohan Singh hints at reservation in private sector, one just wonders, whether a change is possible at all ?

It is true that a major part of the Indian population is Below Poverty Line. It is true that 75% of Indian population is rural. And this bare truth is what comes to the politicians' rescue whenever they have to fare well in elections. Promise the needy to deliver their needs and after that who cares who heeds ? That is the mantra followed by the politicians. Sadly, to win elections, with this high a percentage of rural populace, even Loka Paritran may have to (God Forbid) resort to such vote bank politics. And when the politicians announce a slew of reservation promises at educational institutions and then also in the private sector, the votes start swelling up. And by Jove, what a timing. Few weeks before major assembly elections in Assam,Kerala,Tamil Nadu, West Bengal is when this gets announced. And more disturbingly, the reservation in top educational institutions like the IITs happens 3-4 days before the exams itself !! And now, another reservation issue hots up, the one in private sector jobs.

What the government is inadvertently doing is 3 things :

1. Politicising prestigious educational institutions like IITs and IIMs, by
creating a divide amongst young bright students, branding one set as
backward and another as the forward.

2. A set of students who in the merit based students' eyes have come through by virtue of reservation, and not on the basis of merit. This is detrimental to the whole set of students in the institutes. Every performance is scrutinised, as to whether it is by merit or influenced politically. Do we need such divides in sacred places like educational institutions ?

3. Same is the case with the private sector job quota issue. Raise a voice,
because someone of the backward class didn't get a job, and lo and behold, the
politicians' come into the picture and make sure the job is given, even if
the candidate doesn't deserve it.

The aftermath of such a huge reservation percentage of 50% nearly, can be detrimental to the quality of education when the above said points are taken into account. IIT aspirants this year were very pessimistic about chances of making it, because, with this high a reservation coming in from next year(if it does that is) their chances of making it are very minimal. So this year the candidates chance was as good as their last, since from this year only 2 attempts can be made at cracking
the IIT JEE.

Consider this. If the reservation at the educational institutions becomes 50% and the private sector becomes, say even 33%, the chance for a general candidate to get a well paid job after graduating from a top notch institute would be 1/2 * 2/3 i.e.1 in 3 !!.So, there is only 33.33% chance that a candidate gets a well paid private sector job. What's more, one can foresee more foreign placements being taken up rather than domestic ones from these institutes, simply because, the seats in these companies would be first given to the reserved candidates and then come the general candidates. Talk about brain drain. Think of how many bright entrepreneurial minds who would not be working towards India's development because.

It is sad, because, rather than focusing on education itself, the government wants to give shortcuts for the backward classes to get a job or a seat. Even having raised such an issue, has brought forward so many viewpoints from all over India, and this can be even more disturbing, because, the awareness of a community divide creeps in amongst the common citizens. This can't help even the current crop of students pursuing education or working in big companies.

What is required is education. The proper kind which needs to uplift the backward classes so that they compete at the same level as their peers. And this kind of education needs to be given at the HSC and the SSC levels. And I believe at these levels, financing should be provided for the backward masses, to enable the best ones to fare well. And financial aid doesn't end there. It should be given to them at the graduation levels as well, where they pursue an Engineering or a Medical degree. But it should end there unless he/she wants to do a post graduation as well. Someone who isn't capable of getting a job even after that doesn't deserve it at all !! So why would you require a quota then ? Does that mean the government is not providing the kind of education required for these socially deprived, but promise them jobs even so ?

It is tough to look at the other side of the story, i.e. to look at why reservation has to be more or why it should be provided for in private sector job quota as well. Because, the government is doing something to cover up it's own wrongs. Which cannot be accepted. It is now that parties like Lok Paritran have a dilemma. To get votes, they need the huge socially backward votes. But they also stand for what modern India is, and would want to desperately shout against reservation. It will be interesting how they do a balancing act now. But one this site provides insights into why such reservations might be useful after all ! A mix of rural population in the IIMs can give tools required to improve the livelihoods of the backward classes. Also, it makes a lot of sense to see which of the backward classes truly deserves a seat, as in, the ones which are actually in need of financial aid. For if the previous generation of the candidate has availed of such benefits and is doing well enough, they shouldn't be given extra privileges. This is where I think the PAN way can be so helpful.

The PAN card or the Permanent Account Number is used to declare the Income Tax by salaried people. Through this the dependants can be tracked and one can conclude whether the candidate is well to do or not. Even here, the issue of SC/ST and OBC is so evident. It almost seems India wants a workaround for declaring a section as SC/ST/OBC rather than abolish such class divides. To abolish these quotas would be the best possible thing that could ever happen. And to enable financial aid for the poor to pursue education, an income declaration should suffice. And then getting a job is in their own hands. Quotas are definitely not the way out.

The views and thoughts expressed in this article are my own

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Anonymous said...

There is an affirmative action policy in the USA which assures jobs in private sector for blacks and native Indians . Why not have such affirmative action here?

Anonymous said...

With private funding why not set up private institutes of high calibre which will increase the number of seats available to all students . Or explore other means of increasing the number of students who have access to higher education . I am refering to education over internet,satellite.
Why fight over a small loaf of bread ? And why not direct one's energy to baking a bigger bread?

Anonymous said...

Hi, Don't be fooled by private companies - they appoint thier own people in jobs. There should be reservation for Jackless people in jobs. from Cyberkitty

Anonymous said...

What "merit" are we talking of anyway ? Scores in entrance exams at age of 17?

Take the claim of "merit based" entrance to all IIMs and dozens of other institutes.

The CAT exam is based on the SAT exam in the USA . It has been proved beyond doubt that the SAT test is culturally biased . Blacks and hispanics do poorly at it year after year .

If a student who is eligible for admission to IIM on the basis of his CAT score, were to take the same CAT exam in which he/she cleared in a language that he/she did not understand then he/she would be at a disadvantage compared to someone who was schooled in that language . Not knowing that language does not mean you lack the capacity to clear that exam.

Approximately 25 % of CAT test is about English! Another 25 % is about English Comprehension!!!! There you are !!!! About 50 % so called aptitude test is a hoax for someone who is from a non-english speaking background .

This is how the CAT like the SAT is discriminatory .

See the full form of SAT …Scholastic Aptitude Test . The problem is aptitude testing is not so simple . There is no test on earth which can reliably tests aptitude .

Aptitude tests such as the SAT have a historical tie to the concept of innate mental abilities and the belief that such abilities can be defined and meaningfully measured. Neither notion has been supported by modern research. Few scientists who have considered these matters seriously would argue that aptitude tests such as the SAT provide a true measure of intellectual abilities.

It was found that people could be coached to better their scores at SAT . The name SAT …Scholastic Aptitude Test could not be correct . So under such valid criticism the name was changed to Scholastic Assessment Test, since a test that can be coached clearly did not measure inherent "scholastic aptitude", but was influenced largely by what the test subject had learned in school. Even the College Board which conducts the SAT has beaten a hasty retreat.This was a major theoretical retreat by the College Board conducting SAT, which had previously maintained that the test measured inherent aptitude and was free of bias.

About ten years back , however, even the redundancy of the term assessment test was recognized and the name was changed to the neutral, and non-descriptive, SAT. At the time, the College Board announced, "Please note that SAT is not an initialism. It does not stand for anything."

The framers of these SAT tests assumed that intelligence was a unitary inherited attribute, that it was not subject to change over a lifetime, and that it could be measured and individuals could be ranked and assigned their place in society accordingly. The SAT evolved from these questionable assumptions about human talent and potential.

More and more people are questioning the validity of SAT . In the past MENSA used to accept high SAT score individuals . For the past decade it has stopped accepting SAT scores .

The whole exercise of deciding merit based on CAT scores discriminates against those from lower socio-economic status.

Though many non-IIM institutes have started accepting CAT scores, the application fee of these institutes is still inexplicably high.

The CAT is primarily an exam of Math and English. Logical and Analytical Reasoning is nearly absent (except for some verbal reasoning which again depends on knowing English well!!!!).

CAT is a clever way to keep those from lower socio-economic strata away Institutes funded with tax payers money .

So claims of “Merit” based on CAT scores is hollow and discriminatory against those of lower socio-economic strata.

Dhirubhai Ambani had a poor command over English . He would not have made it through CAT. So what "merit" are we talking of?

Ezulx said...

Well said.. and the point is, an oft repeated one, GET THE PRIMARY EDUCATION SORTED! I wonder what kind of break will a kid with all going against her/him if the basic foundations arent there? Get throught the IIT and then what? Graduate? Unlikely... get a decent job..even more unlikely (notwithstanding or UK educated PM's threat to Corporate India).. be successful in the job and contribute to the society at large..least likely when that persons confidence is shot!!!These incidently arent my thoughts but those of some current recepients of the SC/ST quota system at one of the IITs'.
Lets give people some decent basic education first... though I suspect some clean drinking water, renewable energy source, and a pukka road would be more than welcome as well!

Harit said...

a 50 % reservation in colleges and 33 % in company would form the probablity of 1/2*2/3 = 1/3 i.e 1 in 3 person would be able to do both!!

well.. regarding quota's in professional institutes, theres is just one word for it-- BULLSHIT !!

Vijay said...

hey harit, thanks for the correction :)

Memoryking said...


My Reservations Blog "No! Let’s join the self-proclaimed snobs protesting with slogans “Remember your place”, polishing shoes and cleaning premises? Let’s pretend not to see it at all! Damn Reservations"