Friday, May 26

Reservations/Quotas and the "Meaning of Merit"

Madhukar shukla wriets in Alternative Perspective

If you are reading this posting on the blog or on a mail, then perhaps 90% chances are that you are against the "reservations" on the ground that it dilutes the "merit".This, perhaps, is less indicative of the popularity of the "merit-cause", and more of the the fact that the Indian blogger community/netizens represents a self-reinforcing socio-politically isolated section on the other side of the digital divide.In a democratic set-up, one is naturally entitled to have his/her own viewpoint... So this posting has nothing to do with being "for" or "against" the reservations... To each his own!This posting is about some simple facts which somehow are never quoted/known in MSM - and about which few Indian bloggers ever bother to check/find-out... ...and to explore that if "merit" is the issue, then what does "merit" mean in the urban-centric visible India.So if you happen to be one who is agitated and angered about the additional 27.5%reservations/quota in the "temples of higher education" (e.g., IITs, IIMs) - and how it dilutes the "merit"... Then please be honest - and answer in Yes/NoDid you know that...
? 1. The announcement by Minister for HRD, Arjun Singh, that "government is considering reservations in all educational institution" was based on the 104th Constitutional Amendment Bill, passed by the Lower House of Indian Parliament (Lok Sabha) on Dec 21st, 2005, by 379-to-1 votes (381 present, one abstained). Yes / No?
? 2. It was also passed by the Rajya Sabha by 172-to-2 votes.Yes / No?
? 3. The Bill was signed by the President of India, APJ Abdul Kalam, on Jan 20th, 2006 - thereby making it the 93rd Constitution Amendment Act, 2005, to be enacted upon by the incumbent government.Yes / No?
? 4. There is no Mandal-I or II!!! (as projected by the media)... The proposal for this Amendment was based on Indian Consitution, and came from the recommendations of Mandal Commission - which was formed in 1978, during Janta Party regime, and submitted its report in 1978-79.Yes / No?
? 5.According to findings of the Mandal Commission, in India there are (or were at that time) more than 3,000 OBC castes that constitute about 52% population of India (see the figures below)- these are in addition of 16% SCs and 8% STs. Together - SCs, STs & OBCs - constitute 76% of India's population.

. Yes / No?
? 6. Besides the reservations, the Mandal Commission also recommended a number of other things - about which neither the media nor the "pro-merit" citizens are either aware, or willing to "protest" about, e.g.:- radical alteration in production relations through progressive land reforms- special educational facilities to upgrade the cultural environment of the students, with special emphasis on vocational training- separate coaching facilities for students aspiring to enter technical and professional institutions- creation of adequate facilities for improving the skills of village artisans- subsidised loans for setting up small-scale industries- the setting up of a separate chain of financial and technical bodies to assist OBC enterpreneurs. - increasing the seats in institutes of higher education to accommodate the "reserved" candidates", etc...Yes / No?
? 7. According to the Mandal Commision recommendations, the increase in reservations should be only along with the increase in the seats in the institute, i.e., the "reservations" should not have an adverse impact on regular non-reserved category. For instance, IIM-C and IIT-Kharagpur have already decided to increase the seatsYes / No?
? 8. Notwithstanding the claims that the increase in seats to accommodate the "reserved" candidates, requires enhancement of educational infrastructure (hostels, faculty) - which it is claimed will strech the capabilities of the institutes and impact their "quality" - the professional institutes (IIMs, XLRI, IITs, etc.) have continued to increase their seats over last 4-5 years.Yes / No?
? 9. Large number of Indian Institutes of higher education charge (or used to charge, till the Supreme clamped down) "capitation fee" - i.e., allowing a "quota" for those who can pay. Similarily, there are "reserved" seats for foreign nationals, who pay higher fee in $s, even if they don't meet the criteria of "merit".... But no protest/"candle-march" ever happened against this "dilution of merit".Yes / No?
? 10. The four Southern States - Kerala, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, and Andhra - have had around 50% (or more) reservations for last 2 to 4 decades in their institutes of higher educations (Tamil Nadu adapted 69% reservations even before Mandal Commission; Kerala had 50% reservations since 1970s, etc.). These reservations/quota cover some of the prestigious universities like Anna, Tiruchi, Bharthidasan, Osmania, etc. (This, apparently, has not diluted the "merit" coming out from these "temple of higher learning").Yes / No?
? 11. In 2005, in Tamil Nadu (which has 69% reservations for BC and MBCs since 1960s), the first 14 ranks in the admissions to the 12 state government medical colleges, went to the OBCs... In fact, among the top 400, only 31 were from the "forward class", and the Backward and Most-Backward class students qualifed for 952 out of 1,224 seats (78%).Yes / No?
? 13. In old times, the lower classes (shudras) were not allowed to enter the temples, and were even punished to hear the vedas?Yes / No?Now, just in case, one did not know these (or most of these) facts - even though one felt angered by the dilution/pollution of "merit" by the "reservations" - then there is a point to consider:Does "merit" in modern educated urban India mean being totally oblivious and alienated from the current socio-political reality?... and remains confined to proactive action only under threats to "my job, my merit.... my lollipop!"?Or, in other words:Is the anti-reservations sentiment among the educated urban Indians merely a morally justifiable "rang-de-basanti" peg on which one can hang one's sulking tantrums about the loss of monopoly on the traditional turf?

1 comment:

Manish Bansal said...

This post makes a pretty good case for pro-reservation but the point here is that who is getting benefitted out of this reservation thing? Certainly not the people who deserve to be uplifted, whichever caste they might belong to. It only benefits those OBCs who are already doing well and have access to good primary and secondary education. What does it do for those poor people who can't even afford to send their kids to school in the first place? The way it is now, reservation is biased heavily in favour of rich/middle class OBCs.
Moreove, once someone in a family becomes an engineer or a doctor by getting a seat thru reservation, why should his kids be given the reservation again? They already go to good schools and have good standard of living. Would these people be willing to give up this privilege for their poor brethren?