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Thursday, April 26, 2007

QUOTA - FROM A DIFFERENT FRAME

I was debating the OBC quota issue with one of my friends…and the outcome of the discussion made me look once again into the same issue from a different frame. I am strictly against the quota system and the person with whom I was discussing the issue gave me the following reasons supporting the system.

1. A kind of informal quota system exists in the top US universities, which these universities like to define as “diversity”, more so in the social or demographic context. These universities like to restrict profiles from one particular society and demography. For instance, every university has an informal idea of the break-up- whites, blacks, Latinos, Asians, and Africans etc. The selection criterion is much stringent for an Indian to study in the top US University than an African. An Indian aspiring to enter a US top 10 should target at least 720 in GMAT while the score can come down to as less as 650 for someone from Africa. Thus the competition of the white is restricted to other whites, blacks with blacks, Asians with Asians etc. each with relatively different selection criterion. Now the question is “Is merit sacrificed in these universities”?

2. The second point that he raised is that Indian universities admit and produce “like-minded individuals”. For instance, Indian top B-Schools are likely to produce people who generally restrict themselves to the corporate context. Social management is not considered something “challenging enough” amongst Indian top b-school students. Compare this with someone from Harvard who moves on to Africa with a mere 1000 dollar package to start a team to fight various diseases etc.

3. The third reason was that Indian selection definition of “meritocracy” and “talent”. We define meritocracy as cracking 120 tough questions in two hours, or scoring a 700+ in GMAT or solving the IITJEE paper. Now, is this really the case? Is academic brilliance (extremely high IQ) a pre-requisite for a relatively good manager or a technocrat? Elements of pragmatism and practicality are not so visible in the entrance examinations.

And to quantify the success of our universities, what have the average alums (IITs and IIMs) achieved apart from success in academic and the corporate world? Most of the people from the IITs and IIMs have their presence felt only in the corporate sector or in the leading US universities. We rarely find them active in politics, organizations like ISRO, DRDO or carrying out initiatives in rural India or similar things which are much more challenging. This is not the case with the alumni of the US universities.

I also had my reasons explaining the negative aspects of the quota system but certainly I find some logic in what my friend argued.

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

--> The recent example of an IIMA alumnus who started a food chain

Sorry, but he didnt enter via quota.

SABYASACHI said...

Anon......

checked the web to look into the details...but varied views exist on this isse.

So to remove the controversial element, let me erase the line...

thanks

Anshuman said...

i am sorry but i dont at all agree with your friend. Here is why -

1. I havnt done an MBA but from wat i hav gathered from various articles is that good institutes look for diversity in the students because each of these students brings a different point of view to the table. Group activities and projects are common during the course of an MBA. So if the population is diverse all the students would benefit from looking at a particular case or problem from a different perspective.
But just tell me in what way would an OBC, who has studied in the same school as us and lived life in the same fashion as us, bring something different to the table. Just because he has been admitted through the quota system doesn't mean that he'll have something different than the other general category students to offer.
2.Your second point is a bit amusing i must say.You are comparing OBCs with the people from africa. I mean people from africa really come from impoverished places. The OBC junta here is not that poor (maybe some of them are). But you know the funny part is that the OBC people who are actually going to avail this quota system are the ones who can afford coaching and good schooling and not the ones from the "africa like places" (assuming there are such places in india).And even if you assume that a person from such a place actually makes it into IIM against all odds , do you think he'll let go of his 7 figure salary to go back to his village..I seriously doubt that.
3.Your third point is about the examination system as a whole. In a country of 1 billion people i think there is no viable way to test if someone is practical or not. I guess these things are tested in the GD/PI stage but come on even you would agree to fight amongst the best in a place like say IIMA you need to have a decent level of IQ. If not then you are just going to drop into the abyss of depression and god forbid suicide( like those several cases in IITs)
And i believe the other things like practicality and pragmatism can be honed over the years and so the best possible pre-MBA test is that of your IQ.
4. Your last point on IIT and IIM alums not going to ISRO and DRDO has an implicit assumption.Just tell me something what on earth makes you so sure that the students admitted through the OBC quota are going to turn out any different from the alums that IITs and IIMs have churned out till now. Who the hell is going to let go of that wonderful corporate life and the seven figure salary after graduating from IIM(obviously not the OBCs who have been portrayed as a class of people who have been tortured and forced to live in poverty all their life.They'll want their share of the pie not take up a less paying job with the govt)

Its easy to concoct points to support the quota system but at the end of the day nothing can justify it. Efforts should be made to improve education at the primary level.The students should be made capable of competing with the students in the cities and then getting an admission into a premier institute will have a sense of achievement like no other.
I know you are on the same side as me but hey you could have argued with your friend a little better instead of seeing some logic in justifying this heinous act of government.
cheers ( i am not this serious always :) )

SABYASACHI said...

hmmm..nice thoughts Anshuman...have forwarded it to my friend....

Anshuman said...

Thank You :)

Anonymous said...

hey sabyasachi.... wonderful post.. I wont say I agree completely with your friend's views but it definitely gives some food for thought.. I mean, this gives us an entirely different point of view for the entire thing.... I totally agree with the third reason he has given about 'meritocracy' in India.. The fact that you have been academically succesful doesnt make you always succesful in your professional life... I have personally experienced this in my professional life...
Anyways keep posting... Cheers...