My reservations on the reservations.

The supreme court has finally ruled on the issue of the OBC quota for Central education institutes. The issue of having 49.5% reservation is iconic and national institutes like IITs and IIMs truly has a lot of us angered and divided. Personally I’m in favor of the reservations, but I think the reservation makes sense in the short-term but isn’t solving any issues for the long-term.

SCs/STs and OBCs are an under-represented lot in most higher education institutes. They form a major chunk of the lower economic classes and today it’s just impossible to get into a good higher education institute without spending a lot of money on getting coached for the exams. Of course if the reservations were in terms of economic classifications, it would make a lot more sense. But the government has its own selfish reasons of favoring castes which form the major portion of the Indian population. At least the ‘creamy layer’ of OBCs is not going to be favored in these reservations.

I believe these reservations will affect the medical stream students the most negatively. They already have such few seats and now there are even lesser. I hope the government does something about increasing the seats. In the engineering and management streams, I’m a little amused to see that most people are incensed about the reservation policies being applicable to IITs and IIMs. Out of some 5 lakh aspiring engineers, 4000 will make it to IITs. Why is everybody so concerned about the fate 4000 of brightest minds? The bright guys will almost certainly do well anywhere. Now with the reservation, a few hundred out of the lakhs of OBC/SC/ST(and impoverished) students will be benefited from an IIT education. And the IITs must increase their intake of students. Already most of them are spread over such huge sprawling campuses, which is frankly a big waste of space for purely technical colleges. I mean 500 acres for just 5000 students is a little too much. Compare that to American elite universities which have tens of thousands of students on similar or smaller land sizes.

These reservations will benefit more people than not, but its a classic case of ‘Too little, too late.’ Higher education is going the private way quickly. What with so few govt seats available, it had to happen. The reservations can’t affect the private institutes, which are barely meritocratic and bastions of the well-off kids. So the problem of poor kids not getting quality education comes back again. And if the benefits are to be increased, more govt institutes must upgrade the quality of education they provide.

On a personal level though I’m a little pained. I studied in a IIT-JEE coaching institute and I know the hard work it takes to sacrifice two(or even more) years of a teenage life on the JEE altar and then be crushed because you didn’t make it and somebody else who scored much lesser makes it. And with my sister giving the JEE in three days, this is undue and unfair pressure on her.

Times like these, when I’m feel proud and lucky to be a BITSian. Merit rules here and always will. And probably thats why there are very very few SCs/STs here(my personal observation). I though sometimes wish there was a quota for girls. Frankly its unhealthy.

PS: I’m disabling comments for this post. From what I’ve seen on other blogs such posts always turn into places for useless rhetoric on either IIT/IIM bashing or IIT/IIM glorifying. Certainly NOT going to happen on my blog. If you absolutely have to vent, go to YouthCurry, you’ll find something for your taste ;).

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