Tuesday, May 23, 2006

India's Proposed Increase in University Quotas Sparks Protests

Yahoo! News
New York Times

In April, the government of India announced a plan to increase the number of seats reserved for members of the lower cast groups. The plan calls for an increase in the percentage of jobs and seats reserved for select groups in medical, engineering, and other professional schools. The plan would increase the current reservation of 22.5% to 49.5% of the total spots. The current level incorporates “scheduled” castes and tribes, including those formerly known as untouchables. The plan would expand those benefited to include those who are one-step higher in the caste system or the “other backwards castes.”

Opposition, in the form of protests and hunger strikes, are coming primarily from medical students, who desire admissions based solely on merit. Hospitals affected by the strikes have refused new admissions, save emergencies, and cancelled all surgeries. The government is hoping to prevent a situation similar to the 1990 incident where numerous students committed suicide, which led to the fall of the government, after the number of reserved seats in university admissions and jobs were doubled by the government.

Some believe that the politicians are unwilling to address the plan because nearly two-thirds of India’s population are members of lower castes. Political backlash for decreasing the quotas could be severe. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s silence on the proposal is evidence of this. He opted instead to appoint a committee to evaluate the plan and its possible effects.

A further argument is that the better way to empower the lower social groups is to focus on basic primary education, which could benefit many more people than the current plan and lead to a long-term solution. Others argue that the only way for members of the lower group to succeed in the unequal society is by a specific quota system.


camelpost said...

BITS Pilani and Merit Go hand in Hand: BITS Pilani admission process has always ensured guaranteed admission to all the students who obtained first ranks in their respective board examinations. This has given a very vital input of highly meritorious students from all over India. BITS Pilani maintains this practice and first rank students of all the central and state boards in India are given direct admission to the programme of their choice, irrespective of their BITSAT-2006 score. However, they should have obtained the minimum of 80% aggreagte marks in PCM subjects with at least 60% in each of the PCM subjects in their 12th examination.
For this purpose, the topper should be from the science stream having taken Physics, Chemistry and Mathematics subjects in 12th examination. The aggregate marks should contain the Physics, Chemistry and Mathematics subjects, in addition to other subjects considered by the board as required to pass the 12th examination.

sudhanshu said...

Why the rant about BITS Pilani?