Friday, May 19, 2006

To Government: Please don't punish meritocracy

Pardon me for yet another post on reservations, but I felt this is one topic that deserves one more post. There have been a lot of discussions supporting reservations - some involving senior politicians - and the overwhelming point that seems to be brought up is that we need to given “them” a chance. It almost carries a sympathetic tone under it. But as I see it, the only thing reservations could possibly achieve is punishing meritocracy.

Of all things I read against reservations, this is the most shocking: the total number of forward caste students who get into medical colleges in TamilNadu is just around 20 every year (you read that damn right!) due to the presence of a 70% reserved quota and a 30% general quota which is open to all candidates. Most of the 30% ‘open category’ is again consumed by ‘reserved’ bunch of people leaving just around 20 seats. In effect, it means that you need to be among the top-20 students in the whole state to get a medical seat. Unless, of course, you come under the reserved category.

Let’s take other examples from TamilNadu (TN), the state that has traditionally had the maximum reservations in the country.

1. With all the loopholes and bribery in the system, the cost for getting a lower-caste certificate is around Rs. 2000 to Rs. 3000 bucks. As cheap and simple as that. I know because I’ve heard of people (remotely related to me) pay that much to get a “backward caste” certificate. This is possible in communities whose sub-sects are divided into forward and backward castes. So, how difficult is it going to be for a huge chunk of people to get ‘converted’? Can our inefficient system stop these conversions from continuing? I think the Government is getting into a huge mess (like these) by trying to bring in so-called equality in the form of reservations.

2. In typical engineering colleges, the cutoff marks for getting into good institutes differs between OCs (typically forward caste students), BCs, MBCs and SC/STs. And the cutoff difference between OC students and the rest is, approximately, in the range of 5 to 40 marks out of 300 (depending on whether you belong to BC or ST). What this means is that if you belong to BC category and get 250, it is equivalent to 255 marks. In other words, the quotas don’t provide a life that is otherwise absent, as being painted by the pro-reservation segment. It just enables the students to get a set in an institution that is ranked one step higher than what he would get without reservations. In simple terms, reservations don’t provide a chance-in-a-lifetime but just a small elevation. But the cost is big: You punish meritocracy.

3. Everybody knows institutes such as IITs and IIMs operate under the law of ‘input control’ – they take the best by tough processes and hence are regarded as the best. Nobody ever claims that these institutes “produce” best people. They just try to take in the best people. In such a case, is the Government then trying to make room for people who otherwise aren’t eligible to getting into institutes such as IITs and IIMs by hiding them along with other meritorious students? If no, would the Government be ok to disclose the ‘caste’ details of the candidates passing out of these institutions to the future employers? Are the reserved category people ok with it? What would be Government’s answer to a society that’s increasingly trying to identify itself based on caste? Isn’t it disastrous for the overall health of the country, at a time when every other country in the world is someway admiring India for grabbing the tech-wave with both the hands?

I don’t have answers to the questions I’ve raised, but I just can’t stop wondering how our so-called senior leaders are adept in plugging in short-term ill-planned solutions to long-term problems. It’s as classic as covering the potholes of all those innumerable broken Indian roads instead of making a one long-time investment and concretizing them.


At Saturday, May 20, 2006 1:00:00 PM, Blogger Razaldo said...

Here is my theory...

Education is an essential service. So, no matter what the cost, people will pay through their noses for it.

India is 'shining'...stock market is going ga-ga (barring the last two days), real estate prices are hitting the roof, entrepreneurs are becoming successful.....and more importantly, the middle income people have never had it so good!

So, now these middle income guys are making money we can milk more money out of them, thought someone. Already due to the acute shortage of seats, students' parents are willing to cough up huge donation money to secure seats for their kin.

Demand and supply theory dictates that if you decrease the supply, the prices go up. And that is what will happen with the quotas. "Cause and effect", as Merilvinge said in "Matrix Reloaded".

What has all this got to do with the politicians turning deaf I hear you say? Ahem. Every politician worth his salt runs a college...

I think you are smart enough to figure the point I want to make.

That, my dear friends, is how to define a conspiracy theory.

At Saturday, May 20, 2006 10:23:00 PM, Blogger Hypnos said...

think about this

they raise fees

and then they increase reservations

hint: ploy to benefit the creamy layer further, keeping the real needy out of the circuit for further time?

At Sunday, May 21, 2006 11:44:00 PM, Blogger Manish Saini said...

Intrestingly, if the reservation bill is tabled in the will be passed unanimously coz no one dare bell the Cat for the fear of loosing their vote bank.
This simply proves that those sitting in the parliament are not representatives of the majority.

My only appeal to all the educated people in the country is to caste their vote and vote intelligently.......

At Monday, May 22, 2006 10:42:00 AM, Blogger Kay said...

Hey guys... you call it whatever theory you want.. but 50% and 69% can not be called reservations!..

and just because a community is meritorious you cannot punish them either...

until each one of us jump into politics nothing is about to change!

At Monday, May 22, 2006 2:03:00 PM, Blogger Jam said...

Hey Govar,

I absolutely loved your analogy of comparing this issue to the potholes on the roads. Simply put, the Govt and the world in general today is content with finding stop-gap solutions to problems, not long-term sustaining solutions. Look at it this way, who knows if the same Govt will be in power after the next elections. Maybe reservations will help them garner more OBC votes.


At Tuesday, May 23, 2006 12:09:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

When I entered my 10th std, my life had been decided. "delhi" mama, anna from singapore, calcutta "mami", of course the highly successful agm in sbi, my dad, all had a hand in deciding my future. finish engineering, do my ms, and get a job in microsoft or intel. lifes set! brilliant. of course i didn't oblige them by first not managing to get into anna university or an iit. you might blame reservations, I don't. I have a whole bloody gang behind me ensuring, wherever I mess up(not getting into an anna univ/iit/rec or giving up a infy job for a greenpeace job), I'll always be successful(monetarily). I don't think some of my classmates during engineering from rural schools and the sc/sts had the same kind of support I have. even today most of them haven't even heard of an iim. If all sc/st/obcs had the kind of social infrastructure and financial support you or I had, our representation in IITs, IIMs and RECs in TN would be roughly equal to our proportion in the population which is about 12%(liberally) and not the current 31 %. You know I don't mean this personally... look at it this way. 12% of the population in TN fights for 31% of the seats! Nice for you and me!. now imagine a perfect social state. no social inequity so no reservations- 100% of the population fights for 100% of the seats. do you still think that you can get into a GCT? you are better at math than I am. do the math. with my grades I wouldn't have gotten into nandanam arts college! :D. You don't have to be communist to see merit in my argument. why don't we all protest against the NRI quota instead of the OBC quota?

At Tuesday, May 23, 2006 12:50:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

According to the theory of "input Control" in our batch of iim people in the iim-on-top-of-the-hill, 77.5% of our batchmates should have been god-level people. our dear "kann-imai thalaivar ;)" should have had an IQ lesser than only einstein. hey, forget god-level, how many people do we know who we'd classify as above average? 10%?20%?30% even liberally, does that mean that 37.5% of the predominantly uppercaste(you certainly can't dispute that - the surname of half the batch was agrawal!!)batch doesn't deserve an IIM seat?
remember the discussion in munnar? i said that the I considered a certain someone as the most brilliant guy in our batch. he happens to be an ST. hey I'm not pushing their story. i'd rather that saiva Pillai s are born to lead the world :D! ask anyone the three best presidents India has had, I'd say, radhakrishnan, k.r. narayanan and Kalam. one is a tam-bram, other is an SC, and the third is a muslim.!
I know for a fact that getting into an IIM is a factor of your school, training institute, your dad&mom's insistence, whether you got a good nights sleep before CAt and if a butterfly fluttered its wings in wyoming. I leave it to your imagination and your experience with god-level IIMites and IITians to decide how much of what is left depends on your IQ and EQ. how much difference in "meritocracy" do you think there is between a 85%ile CAT guy and a 99.9%ile guy? what if they wrote the CAT 3 days later? would the ranks still remain the same? "pinky" got 47%ile in math, "spondy" is a 99%iler both are FC but who'd you employ in your company? I rest my case on "input control".

At Wednesday, May 24, 2006 12:32:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Nirmal,

Not only do the NRIs have a quota of anywhere between 5% - 12%, they are also made to pay thrice the fees. And more often than not, these seats are autioned off to other students willing to cough up the money.

Being an NRI deprives one of the educational facilities (hint: I am poitning at classes) that are available in India.

Try asking an NRI parent to cough up the fees for an NRI seat. Not all of them are as rich you know.

Oh and I just forgot, perhaps the number of NRI students collectively are more than SC/ST and OBC students, yet very often they compete in the general category.

I am ok with 100% students competing for 100% seats, but not with 12% competing for 31% seats.

Perhaps you just hit the nail on the head when you said that "with my grades I wouldn't have gotten into nandanam arts college!".

And please, this is not a caste thing, infact it is against it.

Wake up and remove your rose tinted glasses Mr. Nirmal

-An NRI who made it through the general category, even when my parents could afford an NRI seat

At Thursday, May 25, 2006 2:50:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

hee hee hee. please pardon the rather condescending tone I'm gonna use on you. that's because...
Firstly you are anonymous(not nice)
Secondly you don't understand english. you haven't followed anything I said and most of your comments and your references to mine are totally out of context.
Thirdly you don't understand math. 12% people fighting for 31 % seats is good for the FCs. you dont have to be Turing to understand that.
my poor NRI(you) whose parents could afford a NRI seat went out of his way to get a GC seat and took the seat away from some middle class FC guy who couldn't afford to pay fees that YOUR parents can!
@GOVAR - your complaint that reservation takes away good FC seats is validated. Here's the guy who took away your medical seat :D in spite of being able to afford one.
Of course all NRIs aren't rich! only 95% are .the rest are filthy rich like mittal.
"Being an NRI deprives one of the educational facilities (hint: I am poitning at classes) that are available in India." wah beta! what a statement! your sense of entitlement makes me feel small! :D I suppose since you live in both India and another country and earn there and spend here, you don't want to pay taxes in either place :D
"Oh and I just forgot, perhaps the number of NRI students collectively are more than SC/ST and OBC students, yet very often they compete in the general category." HAHAHAHA . My dear NRI, there are 870 MILLION SC/STs/OBCs in India and 2 million NRIs and 20 million PIOs
(persons of Indian origin) How the hell did someone like you manage to get into a GC seat?????
@ Govar- machi more examples of our exalted "input control" mechanism at work eh??
-A person who feels guilty of having all the comforts when 3 streets away my fellow human skins dead cows for a living.
my id is and I don't ever need to hide

At Saturday, May 27, 2006 3:09:00 PM, Blogger Govar said...

That was some discussion. But here are some more points that I typed as a mail...

Input control works. Well, most of the time, if not every time. Exceptions do occur, but reservations might pave way for more exceptions. I don't accept the logic that the ratio of population should be the ratio of students in IITs and IIMs. If brahmins make it there, lets compete. You get reservations till undergrad level. Period. You can't ask a bushman to be in an IIM class if bushmen represnt 1% of Indian population.

And yeah, those who benefit from reservations are city-bred convent educated "backward candidates" and those who get screwed are similar people, the difference being they are termed so-called "forward".

Frankly, I think people who'll actually get benefited would be ones who dont deserve it, the ones who would be punished is meritorious candidates, and politicians would get enough votes.

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