Earth Shattering Arguments

127 Comments

Our exams often generate and encourage stupidity and push forward the least talented of the lot. I am not an IIT student, and will not pretend to know much about the CAT since I didn’t crack it, but it is rather interesting that almost none of our wonderful IIT-ians (for whom such pitted battled are being fought) have made any earth-shattering discoveries or inventions

I tend to avoid writing posts that are critical follow-ups of posts from other blogs. There are several reasons for that—the principal one being that by discussing such posts, I give them more importance/mindspace than they deserve. As a result, there was an urge to let this Annie Zaidi post about reservations (Update: The OtherIndia website was down for a few hours and it’s up again. One difference: my trackback to Annie Zaidi’s post has been removed–it was there earlier. Ahem ahem.) pass outside my off stump, with a sad shake of the head.

The post itself can be summarized as follows: Since the examination system is bad, merit is not a criterion for admission into IIT/IIMs. Consequently, the “merit” argument cannot be used to deny quotas to OBCs.

I am not going to spend time in analysing the logical consistency of the above argument—-just like I would never worry myself by trying to understand the causalities in “Military Raj” or “Mirchi–It’s Hot”. [Of course it very well may be that so astute is the logic, that “stupid” people like me, who made it through the education system, are blinded by its sublimity and our refusal to comment on it is a blatant ruse to hide the fact that we have been perfectly “gotcha-ed”.]

However, there is one line in that paragraph that compels me to comment, and so against my better judgment my bat is drawn in to the shot outside the off, conscious not to edge it to the slips or “play on” onto my own stumps.

This is that line.

..it is rather interesting that almost none of our wonderful IIT-ians (for whom such pitted battled are being fought) have made any earth-shattering discoveries or inventions

I do not know Ms. Zaidi’s definition of “earth-shattering discoveries” —I presume they mean concepts of the magnitude of Newton’s Laws or the General Theory of Relativity and “inventions” mean things like the television, the light bulb, the steam engine and perhaps the hair-dryer. And if so be her definition, it is perfectly true that she is not waking up every morning reading about discoveries/inventions of this magnitude made by “wonderful” IIT-ians.

The reason for that is not, as she says, because IITs produce talentless hacks.

It’s because science has attained such a level of maturity that it is becoming more and more difficult to be able to have a single amazing, newsworthy breakthrough that comes about as the result of the genius of one isolated individual. I am not saying that there will not be another Einstein or Pasteur, but the fact remains that most of the innovations that people see now and in the future will be the result of incremental, small breakthroughs (and hence not newsworthy) that will come to fruition through the collaborative efforts of multiple researchers over a period of time.

So what Ms. Zaidi perceives as a lack of merit on the part of IIT-ians (for whom her contempt is barely concealed) is merely an artefact of the way scientific research is done in today’s world—by her logic there is no merit anywhere in the world: because even MIT-ians and Princetonians are not shaking the world every month or every year with what you call “earth-shattering” discoveries.

Let me personalize this. I am not an IIT-ian. I am a Computer Science graduate from Jadavpur University and a PhD from Stonybrook. I do research in software engineering for safety-critical automotive systems—in other words work on tools and techniques for mathematically proving that a system meets its requirements. I will never make the front page of a newspaper (or even the science section) because the way I work (like countless other researchers) is that I stay abreast of the latest work in my sphere of interest and try to expand and improve on it, in a small way. So that when years down the line, Drive ByWire vehicles become the order of the day providing for lighter, fuel-efficient, cheaper and safer modes of transport for everyone in the world—-my efforts, insignificant and anonymous though it be in the larger context, will hopefully have contributed in some infinitesimally small way to a paradigm shift that everyone will take notice of.

And the story is the same for thousands and thousands of the products of Indian higher education (I use that to generalize from IITs) who, all over the world, work day in and day out, in their own small way, driving the revolutions of tomorrow like busy worker bees. Most of them will remain anonymous, a few of them will become stars of the community (experts in their field but still quite unknown to the general population) and even fewer will make the front pages (a Vinod Khosla for example).

What’s common to all of them is that they all have undisputed merit. By obtaining advanced degrees from educational institutions all over the world (and thus passing through the filters of hopefully “better examination systems), by being able to, at the very least, keep their jobs in corporations and research institutes, by dint of having powerful positions in academia, industry and research—-products of the Indian education system have proved, beyond a shadow of doubt, that , in spite of the flawed examination system, they are by no means the “the least talented” that Ms. Zaidi talks about.

And with IBM, Microsoft, Google, GM, GE and many other powerhouses opening research divisions in India, the market has spoken. Loud and clear.

Indian scientific talent is the flavour of the times.

Of course with 49.5% reservations, this may change very soon.

But that’s a different story.

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127 thoughts on “Earth Shattering Arguments

  1. Wow! I hope this remains the first comment when I press the “Submit” button…

    Your point is absolutely true. Earth shattering discoveries and inventions are no longer made by individuals. We need teams working together for that. That is simply because the complexity of the system being invented is very high.
    Coming to merit, I once heard an IIT professor say that for every student selected to an IIT, there were at least five others who were equally good but did not make it. To that extent, we can say that merit is not the only criteria. But dismissing merit as a criteria to rectify this error is ridiculous. It would ensure that the one guy that got admission is denied admission as well. Unless he is SC/ST/OBC, that is.
    But at the same time, I would like to point something out which I’ve noticed being a student of a new small engineering college. I don’t know if JU people have to face it as well. That is, our society creates kind of an aura around an IITian which strictly speaking many of them don’t deserve. I know people from IIT Kharagpur who would have struggled even if they were put into our college. And I also heard that many US universities give preference to IITians just for being IITians. I think a more logical viewpoint has to be developed if we want to tap all of our brainpower. Remember those five equally good people? They studied from some smaller college.

  2. The author ( of the said blog ) seems to target only the engineering or tech students.
    What bout the medical institutions. Don’t know about her, but all things being equal I would trust a guy who passed the exam to get into the medical college than the one who got through otherwise to operate on me.

  3. “products of the Indian education system have proved, beyond a shadow of doubt, that , in spite of the flawed examination system, they are by no means the “the least talented” that Ms. Zaidi talks about.”

    — Very well said here.

    Though I dont agree with your assessment that there is no breakthrough innovations being done in our times. Yes, the magnitude is very less these days, and so is the increase in collabaration, but individual innovation still has an impact. Example: Google. Larry and Sergei discovered “search” more or less :). Or Sabber and His friend who developed “E-mail”. Its not that they ppl had not done similar stuff before them, but they were the individuals who had the maximum impact in their field, so in all due terms, they are the innovators.

    I think Science in intself is totally unpredictable; just when you think you’ve reached the end of it, something new will come by.

    …Now if only quantam computers became a reality 😀 … sigh!

    Suyog

  4. Yeah, had read this post on the original blog and its logic had me bamboozled. Duh! Fine, if the author wants to have a debate and show the other face of the coin, but still, the least we expect is some comprehensible reasoning.

  5. One of the few well-reasoned and excellent responses to the ‘merit’ argument in the reservations issue. Few understand that knowledge is often produced incrementally with occassionaly bursts of advancement (more is explained by Kuhn) Those that chose to believe that what researchers do is not significant should be pointed to Faraday’s justification for inventing electricity. When asked about its use by a woman after a short demonstration of his experiment he pointed to her baby and said, someday it will prove to be important.

  6. I fully agree with you that most of the scientific and technological breakthroughs in today’s world will come in the form of incremental improvements.

    You may also know from my newspaper articles that I am against SC/ST quota continuing generation after generation and also against extending it to OBCs in a blanket manner. The major trouble with SC/ST quota is that successive generations of the same family is taking advantage of preferential system in education and jobs.
    According to sociologists, after the abolition of zamindari system, OBCS are the land-owning classes in many villages and many of them are better off than some of the upper caste people. This is certainly true in my native village. The social backwardness criteria for identifying OBCs also vary from state to state. In some cases dalits have been subjugated more by OBCs than higher castes. Of course, economically disadvantaged deserve special treatment (its exact forms can be debated), irrespective of his caste origin.

    But then, by the same token, there is no justification for NRI quotas or admission of rich students by paying hefty capitation fees.

    Regarding measurement of merit, there is no precise method on which everybody will agree. JEE or CAT is certainly not the only measure of merit. But, then, one has to accept some measure and go by it. Otherwise, it becomes totally arbitrary, subjective and open to misuse.

    Though it does not justify quotas, there are two points which need to be noted regarding the measurement of merit solely through exams like JEE or CAT. First, rich students can afford to go to better coaching institutions which help them to do better. Second, a true measure of merit of a person is how much (s)he has improved relative to where (s)he started. In principle, this may be a better measure of merit. But unfortunately, the criterion for admission can not be determined by some such measure, given its highly subjective nature and the difficulty of measuring it in any precise generally accepted manner. Love,
    Baba

  7. “IBM, Microsoft, Google, GM, GE and many other powerhouses opening research divisions in India, the market has spoken. Loud and clear.

    Indian scientific talent is the flavour of the times.

    Of course with 49.5% reservations, this may change very soon.”

    You should understand here that Titans of the world Engineering are coming to states where the Percentage of reservation is 69-50%. Does that say something about the merit you are talking about?

    Arguig about merit is futile thing, which your above statement itself queshes. Tamilnadu with 69% reservation,karnataka and andhra with 50% reservation have created a wealth of talent. Let me remind you that when they do intervied by the powerhouses they are on equal footing with socalled-forward castes.

  8. Arnab, I’d agree with you about the small incremental improvements in the world of science; however, in my opinion, howsoever the flawed logic that the blog author has given, it does have “some merit”.

    In a recent study, there has been a fall in the scientifc citations from India in the international journals. (I was in touch with a scientist in New Delhi who unfortunately, hasn’t put up her studies online. So, give me a benefit of doubt). This trend has seen a slow fall over the years and presently, the situation is described as alarming.

    In a similar vein, Scientific Amercian carried out a write up by Dr C N R Rao (if I am not mistaken), who had seconded the same fears; that our scientific edge is being eroded. (Chinese have lined up massive investments for the university sector).

    In medicine, I have hardly come across Indian doctors being cited in journals of repute. (Here, New England Journal of Medicine/ JAMA and now Public Library of Science-PloS). PLoS remains an open access journal- some of the write ups have come from Manipal Medical College, but none on the “pure research”. PloS doesn’t even have an editor from India! (Despite the fact that they have peer reviewers from all over the world). For any medical journal there are two things. First, the impact value of the articles and extensive peer reviews. Secondly, the number of citations it gets in the medical textbooks (or other journals). Indian Medical Journals have routinely faced “plaigrism”- which is a dirty word. They call it being inspired to such a degree that they even copy the punctuation.

    I might stand corrected on the IBM/ GE/ Microsoft opening up “research divisions”. In my opinion, they “collaborate” with the parent divisions and there are hardly any instances of anything “original” coming up. Barring a few exceptions. If I am not mistaken, Texas Instruments devised their new chip from Bangalore. Similarly, the proposed SEM INDIA Fab Chip plant is mostly hot air- with the production of low end chips and none of the designs of high end chips powering desktops. Primarily, it remains American reserve (and their standards are enforced to keep it that way).

    Look at the major trend…IIT’s and IIM’s. It isn’t wrong per se. But how much of an MBA you need to sell a bar of soap? Someone even pointed out that some ex IIM alumni set up a banana chip manufacturing unit to market their produce! They call it “enterprenuership”.

    Hence, the whole issue needs to be seen from that perspective. Our intellectual capital, in terms of the IIM/ IIT’s/AIIMS export remains secluded to a miniscule minorty who make it to the newspapers. IIM’s have fallen way behind the number of PhD’s it produces (it was all in the business magazines), the teaching staff, the number of research papers, the “value of IIM” in the international market (IIM’s are a low in the top 100 ranking).While it can be argued that rankings are influenced and various parameters having varying pros and cons, in my opinion, it remains relegated to the art of semantics.

    Reservations debate is a seperate issue altogether though.

  9. Slightly off-topic.

    And if so be her definition, it is perfectly true that she is not waking up every morning reading about discoveries/inventions of this magnitude made by “wonderful” IIT-ians.

    Not entirely true. I agree they don’t come everyday, but dreams come true occassionally: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/AKS_primality_test which is known to be the greatest of India’s contribution to theoretical computer science. And it came from an IIT. I’d refuse to call this a stray incident, as I have seen Dr Agarwal at work and realized what a combination of talent and hard-work can do.

  10. Actually desipundits are to be blamed..it was a ridiculous post..by posting it on desipundit.com, they have unnecessarily given it publicity..sad.

  11. GB,
    People like Annie and Zulfiquar have mastered the art of moving away from the main question. They create so many other threads that you tend to deviate from the main topic. Topic like “Real Merit” is one among them.

    It’s pretty simple. Not a single political party has said anything against reservation. Our humble, gentleman, intelligent prime minister spoke about this issues after a long’studied’ silence.

    As Arjun Singh sadi “I wouldn’t like to say much more on this because these are decisions that are taken not by individuals alone. And in this case, the entire Parliament of this country – almost with rare anonymity – has decided to take this decision.”

    They have the power, the sheer numbers, logic be damned.
    And in the long run it’s just about dividing the Hindu society and in turn the Hindu vote bank. Simple.

  12. Umm…”bijli” the electricity driven car was developed in an IIT…I guess.
    So when in the future, we have transport not dependant on fossil fuels, we can thank the IITians for providing an early prototype. Definitely shud qualify as an earth shattering discovery.

    As for IIMs, I am a student from IIM K. I can tell you that CAT as an exam is one torture session with split second decisions having to be made regarding which questions to be attempted, which to be guessed and hich to be left alone. I felt really miserable while solving it.

    Also, when I was giving the GD, I met a fellow who barely spoke a word, was very raw and stuttered while speaking. I asked him abt his score and calls: He was a fresher, he got 89 percentile and had calls from ALL SIX IIMs. Contrast with my sister who had 2 years experience as a CA, 95 percentile, is a damn good speaker. She DID NOT GET A SINGLE CALL. Anyone who goes through this, tell me how he can support reservation?? Right now that fellow might have passed out of an IIM, doing his job while my sister who was miles ahead of him is slogging it out!!

    Also, technically my family can apply for an OBC status and get it. My dad is against it saying it is unneccessary since we do not need it. I respect him deeply for that since he had to go through a lot of hardships to come up in life, and that too without the crutches of quota. However, the fact that I could have got the OBC tag even though I do not need it tells you something about the damn situation. There might be hundreds of people like me who have taken the tag even when they do not need it. And the rel deserving people are being left out.

  13. I suspect Annie has attempted JEE…

    Well I didn’t. But I am a close friend to some of them who have and really respect their intellectual capacity. Sure , some of them might have bloated egos and are sometimes overrated but on the whole : they are really smart guys and there is no denying it.
    With reservations, unfortunately, we will be losing out on more of these brilliant people making it big (big in your sense, not Annie’s).

  14. See the problem is people like the one who wrote the article will happily confess that they’ve never had anything to do with the IIT or the CAT exams and suchlike. Infact they’ll go so far as to brandish the very same as sign of pride.

    Infact what they HAVE done is read something like “Five Point Someone” and come to the conclusion that IITs dont contribute to innovation. I remember an absolute similar argument made by one of the characters in the book.

    Deal is, if you’ve never had anything to do with the IIT system or even the management one, then why the hell are you opening ur mouth like an authority on it!

    I like the way u dealt with this, shying away from the main debate. Played with a straight bat as Ravi Shastri would say. But maybe you shouldnt do that.

    Maybe you should write on it. A lot of people do read what u’ve got to say, & i agree in the end it jus makes for a lotta sittin-on-the-couch, but maybe somewhere it does make a difference!

    Hope I havent been preachy, wasnt my intention 🙂

  15. Sorry for off the topic thingy, but are you aware that the govt bought out a postage stamp for 5 Rs on Jadhavpur Univ. Was in the Philately section today at the post office and saw it.

    If you are interested I could get it for you the next time I go there. 🙂

    BTW, I do disagree with your assertion that scientific innovations don’t happen much the same way as they did.

    My brother claims (& he is smarter then you) that the scientific developement thingy is going on at an exponential pace. He explained further that what this meant was that we have made advances in the scientific arena in the last 10 years . then what we made in the 25 years before that. And this exponential rate is going to continue.

    So if you look at innovations, they are happeining faster and bigger.

    Thus said my brother (who is smartr then you)

    What I say is this. : there are no more “scientific superheros”. All of them have been swallowed by the big companies. If you have something radical coming out, its generally attributed to a company rather then an individual. Plus because of the exponential pace, brfore a chap can convert his innovation into a “earth shattering discovery” the projest is assigned / distributed among other teams.

    that is what I say.

    Anyway, let me know if you need the stamp.

    Cheers,
    Velu

  16. @Zulfiquar:

    The 69% reservation in TN has hardly created a “wealth of talent”. The sheer number of college contributes to that, not the reservation. And even in the numbers, there is hardly a “wealth of talent”.

    If you’ve been keeping in touch with matters of the TN situation vis-a-vis the technology sector, you would know that the tech company spurt seen here is not because of the reservation, but due to the relatively large tracts of undeveloped, cheap land outlying Chennai and other major cities here. And the fact that Dayanidhi Maran is Commn and IT minister helps.

    If anything, these companies are lamenting about the total unemployability of the engineering graduates churned out by the engineering assembly lines. One can prove nothing using the reservation figures of TN.

  17. Shrik,

    If I agree with your assessment of what’s happening in Tamilnadu, then We have to negate Arnab’s Phd thesis, that Powerhouses coming to India is coz of Cheap labour & Land of channai, Bnagalore and Hyderabad not talent Merit, intellect Etc.

    I don’t know which part of India you came from, but you definately not seen the rural India for sure. People born and raised in Metro’s will never understand what reservations are untill they had the first hand experiance of Village lives. How much effort they have put compared to students from metros with all the coaching and peer guidence.

    Well to argue about reservation in blogosphere is futile, as almost everyone here is from one category. Instead of helping these disadvataged people, as you guys are so well placed, what we have is bunch of selfish people.

  18. @Joy Forever: Agree with you. US universities give preference to IIT-ians simply because they have a brand equity—successive generations of IIT-ians have done well which is why their “advantage” is a warranted one. And there are quite a number of other Indian universities that are considered Tier 1 during application evaluation in US universities—depending on the past distribution of students from the said school and their performance in that particular US school.

    @Deepak: It is impossible to define merit but in specific contexts, it is possible to judge it. Not the absence of it, but its presence.

    @Naradmuni: And so would she I presume. Of course she might not accept that.

    @Suyog: I would disagree. The “inventors” of Google were successful in productizing a concept that was built largely collaboratively inside the community. I wouldnt consider their discovery/invention to be of the order of the Laws of Motion…surely. I think it is to these kind of innovations that the author of the quoted blog is alluding to.

    @DeepThirdMan: Keeps bat close to pad.

    @Patrix: I heard that the lady in question was the British Queen.

    @ArjunSinghsBadSongs: Aaah lovely. Makes me pine for the days he made money off lotteries.

    @Baba: As I pointed out in my previous post about reservations, I am yet to see a single cogent argument in support of hereditary reservations. As to the coaching conundrum, it is again something based on “economic criteria” rather than caste: poor people come to the start line disadvantaged. Which is where the role of the government lies in that it should invest in “coaching” them so that they start on a level playing field. But right now, what Arjun Singh is doing is giving them the medal without making them even run the race.

    @Zulfiqar: Reply to both your comments. The reason foreign MNCs flock to the South is because of the investment opportunities they have there—-compared to Bihar/UP who would not want to go there? But the people who work there are taken from all over India—-it is not the educational systems of these states in particular that are being targeted. The corporations see merit in India—else they would have gone to say Pakistan or Afghanistan where I presume land is cheaper. The reason they came to India was because of technical talent and the reason they came to the South was because of its investment friendliness.

    In passing, let me point out the massive exodus of Tamil students to places like BITs Pillani as an example of how a section of the population are rendered as educational refugees inside their own land.

    And exactly. Its we who are selfish.

    @Abhishek: What you talk about is the performance of Indian institutes, where I trust that the number of publications has gone down. However what I am talking about are students who do their graduation from IITs/other engineering colleges and then do their higher studies elsewhere. The research labs I talked about are usually filled with people of the following profile: 1)undergrad in India 2) further studies/work ex elsewhere.The reason I am concentrating on this profile is because Ms. Zaidi claims that IIT grads are worthless.

    What you mention is indeed a separate, no less important issue—the declining standards of grad/PhD programmes in Indian universities. The reason for that is simple: professors are not paid enough.

    @Shan: I couldnt find it. Did you post under the name “Shan”?

    @Kousik: Even though us CS people consider the primality result as seminal (and indeed it is), it is unlikely to move laypeople who will call this a theoretical result of no relevance to their daily lives.

    @Prasanth: Desipundit exists to highlight all kinds of posts—–even the ones that most right thinking persons, without ulterior motives, would consider repugnant.

    @An Ideal Boy: Very valid point. Not a single political party has come out on the side of students and of reason. Just look at Arjun Singh’s ramblings to Karan Thapar and you can see a guy saying “Screw your logic. I am going to rob the country cause I can win the next elections. Do what you can.”

    @Gamesmaster G9: True.

    @Dhananjay: Most people who take reservations are people who dont need it. Its something we all know.

    @Ali: Maybe she did—I should not comment.

    @Indian Archie: I can see it just fine….wonder why!

    @Freaky Chakra: I have written on this topic before and over here, my main idea was to talk about perceptions of scientific progress and how the counterpoints to the merit argument are hollow and ill-supported. Which brings me to my main gripe: not a single good argument for hereditary, non-merit-based, non-economic reservations.

    @Velu: No thanks. Since your brother is smarter than me and that has been definitively proven by you, I do not attempt to contradict his rather simplistic assertions.

  19. After Chetan Bhagat, it has become fashionable to bash IITians. I disagree Zulfiquar. Tamil Nadu is booming largely on Manufacturing, Textile and BPO – IT & ITES, which does not particularly require high end research skills but are labour intensive..yes even BPO. In case you were not aware, all the castes except Iyers, Iyengars and Chettiars are covered by some form of reservation in TN.

    Slightly offtrack but ref your comments on rural sector, 50% of metros comprise of urban poor and same logic goes for rural India.

    Like urban Rich, there are rural rich and likewise rural poor. Generalisation is done by people who are ill informed..

    While the likes of frontline go hammer and tongs after the industrialists and urban rich, rural rich go scott free..the reason most of the rural rich are politicos..the likes of devegowda, yadavs, hoodas and keshubhai patel, jayalalitha et all..

    Nos say that out of the 100 mercedes benz that are sold in India, 60 are sold in rural areas. It is time someone asks some hard questions about
    a) why rural rich are not taxed ?
    b) Why government has till now not committed itself to creating external linkages that would help farmer sell his products effectively ?
    c) why the government does not invest in educating farmers on how alternate means of livelihood besides pure farming like poultry, horticulture etc would help a sustainable livelihood ?
    d) why has the government not created effective credit societies ( not the existing sham ones where money is siphoned by politicians )
    e) why do they keep subsidising rice and television whereas none of the agricultural universities have funds for agri research?
    Why is PDS so skewed ?

    Till the time we don’t stand up and ask these basic questions regarding agricultural reforms, the government will keep obfuscating the real issues.

    Time we applied laser of logic and saw through the fog of irrational arguments that are being parroted.

    Sorry Arnab, for taking up so much space, but I passionately believe that Rural Mess is government’s handiwork.

  20. @GB
    “The reason for that is simple: professors are not paid enough.”

    Well I guess the reason is not so simple. The decline in research output can be attributed to several other factors. Like the government policy to move research infrastructure to specialized research institutes, and thus depriving the top universities from research grants. Take the examples from the CSIR or DST laboratories. That’s why research quality in universities have been in a decline from the 70’s.

    I have closely observed in a top CSIR lab the quality of the so called scientists. They were highly paid compared to university professors. About 15 (only) out of some 300 scientists are highly productive. And the others are simply bullshit (sorry for the abuse), who doesn’t even know a simple phenomenon called Brownian motion (God knows how they got PhD). And the saddest part is, most of these scientists were recruited from the quota system implemented by VPS.

  21. @Anonymous: No need to apologize.

    @Anirban: I meant that main and principal cause. Highly paid compared to university professor is still not high enough—it is because of the pathetic pay across the board that accountability is sacrificed. I realize I am being flip here—this is a topic that needs a more full fledged discussion than possible in the comments section.

  22. @Zulfiquar:
    Just out of curiosity, would you subsequently, also propose the lowering of passing GPA’s for reservation candidates once they are in the IITs/IIMs? Remember that the GPA system will not have fixed ‘passing marks’ and will be driven by the top scorers in each batch.

    W.r.t your last comment, its not so much that everyone on the blogospere is selfish. Its more like noone really believes that caste based reservations actually work. People are cynical about the motivation behind and the overall effect of reservations based on caste. If people had seen any tangible changes in our national demographics, resulting from caste based reservations in higher education, I don’t think opposition would have been so strong. For eg. if the reservations had been explicitly based on income-levels and not abstracted behind a layer of ‘caste’, any protests would quickly lose the moral high-ground.

  23. First off, I agree with a lot of the people who have posted comments.. Being from IIT does not make an individual a superhuman, who is capable of taking on anything in this world.
    When I was in Bombay University studying engineering, there were quite a few people who entered through reservations. No problems there.. However, if you look at the difference in criteria for admission – it was close to 96% for open and 60% for reserved. Let us assume for now that it is fine. Forward to results after the first year – all of the students who got in through open category passed without any backlogs, while all of the students who got in through reserved categories had a minimum of 4 backlogs thereby costing them a year each. I have known students who have done a 4 year engineering course for 8 years, subsequently giving it up.
    So, my arguement is, is it fair to expect students from reserved category who have only 60% as compared to students from the open category who have over 90%? I can understand the need to uplift people, but in any case this is not the way.

  24. women represent about 50 percent of the population. maybe iits and iims should have some gender based quota system too, so they have equality.

    and yes, dev, there should be equal opportunity among the obc category to permit them to produce toppers. so how about a random sampling for the silver medal awardee?

    – s.b.

  25. hey arnab…

    i remember once my grandpa had some eye trouble and my mom decided to take him to a local eye doctor. This dr. was quite well known in our locality and he use to treat me also… in other words we all had full faith in him… but funnyly my grandpa declared he is not going to see that person.. we asked why.????????????

    he said… “he is a SC.. he passed his MBBS by scoring 20 only where as the general passing grade is 50… so he cannot trust any treartment by this doctor and think that he is not trained/qualified enough to treat a patient”… we laughed at that time took it as a joke…

    this happened around 10 yrs back. my grandpa is no more with us… today i realize how much farsighted he was… imagine would u like to go under the knife of a doctor who got through the med school under reservation system… I wont!!!

    cheers

    sounak

  26. one of my friend just forwarded this funny comment.

    Wipro chairman Mr. Ajim Prem ji’s comment on reservation :

    “I think we should have job reservations in all the fields. I completely support the PM and all the politicians for promoting this. Let’s start the reservation with our cricket team. We should have 10 percent reservation for muslims. 30 percent for OBC, SC/ST like that. Cricket rules should be modified accordingly. The boundary circle should be reduced for an SC/ST player. The four hit by an OBC player should be considered as a six and a six hit by a OBC player should be counted as 8 runs. An OBC player scoring 60 runs should be declared as a century. We should influence ICC and make rules so that the pace bowlers like Shoaib Akhtar should not bowl fast balls to our OBC player. Bowlers should bowl maximum speed of 80 kilometer per hour to an OBC player. Any delivery above this speed should be made illegal. Also we should have reservation in Olympics. In the 100 meters race, an OBC player should be given a gold medal if he runs 80 meters.”

  27. yes, yes, YES

    azim premji makes sense.

    joking aside, sheer merit and hard-work…. there should be no stopping such a combination

    i think very few of our keyboard tapping bethren have seen the abject poverty and social ostracism faced by POOR low castes in the villages.

    people like ambedkar could rise above it all to become an icon for all of us.

    but reservations won’t create ambedkars. GREAT people are born with their innate qualities, NOT manufactured by govt. decisions.

    and indian system promotes selective breeding.

    since marriage is still a negotiated matter where caste, wealth and educational levels are carefully matched, it is seldom that average parents produce awesome intellect.

    even when people tend to marry according to their own inclinations, they try to marry a person of the same educational standard.(er, that is why in pop fillums, taxidrivers drive heiresses crazy)

    so, my IIT-IIMC neighbour goes and marries a gold-medalist(B.Com.)-IIMC person and their kid enjoys reading wodehouse at the age of five (my daughter at 11 finds cartoons more engrossing than enid blyton).

    my servant, illiterate and married to another educationally challenged, can perceive the value of education.
    so, she slaved at six households trying to put her children through school. she made sure that they did not waste their time running errands or doing chores . she wanted them to sit and study while she earned the money for their fees and books and uniforms. she was unable to supervise their efforts.
    her eldest, at the age of 20, sported a moustache and still sat in class eight. no reservation could push him into nine. what hurt and humiliation he felt, was his alone to bear.
    now he has left school but is disinclined to work– driving a rickshaw or any manual labour.
    his mother is lost and bewildered. all her dreams have been shattered.
    it’s chromosomes that are to blame all the way through.

    if genetic engineering can make all of us ‘gifted’ and therefore obsessed, will society as we know it, fall apart?

  28. Personality is usually defined as a stable set of intrapsychic(internal)characteristics and tendencies that determines the psychological behavior of people. The behavior determined by personality is realtively consistent over time and it is, usually , completely developed by the time one is 12 yrs old.

    So how on earth does reservation at the graduation level lead to the creation a level playing field????

    On the other hand reservation is a clever way of playing the “divide and rule” card. The OBC is more or less told that, “Look son you got here because of us(read: the govt)– so don’t you forget to vote for us”

    “Annie’s post is typical of the layperson’s attitude towards scientific development – if I haven’t heard about it, it can’t be important.”–completely agree with you Ani but remember– post-modernism! There is no reason and logic obviously does not stand a chance.

    In a way, I guess ,we are heading towards a situation which could be summed up thus– (With due apologies to Bob Dylan)

    The man in the coon-skin cap
    In the big pen
    Wants eleven dollar bills
    You only got ten

    Look out kid
    Don’t matter what you did
    They keep it all hid
    and you’re gonna get hit.

  29. The CGPA requirements for SC/ST to pass out of IITs are less than that of the General Categories.
    I dont really worry about reservation in the IITs and IIMs cause seats dont get filled even with reservation present for SC/STs though i think bring down the entrance criteria even more will undoubtedly be the next step. And DASA studebts or entrance of NRI has been abolished from the IITs cause they were taking more than 4 yrs on average to pass.

  30. @Zulfiquar:
    You _ _ _ (what do I call you), you think you are the only one here who has lived in the ‘rural India’?
    Tell me how reservation will help the poor yadav guy in my village get admitted to even a B.Sc./B.A. course? They don’t even go school. Now I am wondering which part of India you come from?

  31. Arnab,

    I am regular to your blog and finds your presentation very interesting. Moreover I found you to be (of course, through your writing) well read, rational and not opinionated. Blogs present a good platform for understanding different persons and I do hope it helps in demolishing the misunderstandings through communication.

    It is sad to note hardly anyone tries to understand other and most just wants to stick to his or her point of view. You would never had brought Pakistan and Afghanistan in this debate had the comment was from Hindu sounding name. Isn’t it strange how we are programmed to respond? I don’t blame you Arnab, just sad how much time it may take that we respond to the argument, not who the argument came from.

    Coming back to the point you raised, Sauth being investment friendly and talent come from all over India. I disagree with you on both points. When we talk about South or for that matter India, Bangalore comes to mind. Let me tell you Arnab Karnataka chief Ministers be they Moily, Gowda, Jh Patel right to HD Kumarsway no one yes no one really worked to bring or facilitate Investment unlike Naidu or even you Buddha. So the investment here is in spite of the Investment friendliness of the TN & Karnataka Govt.
    About talent coming from all over India let me tell you Karnataka has over 60 Engg colleges and as far as my knowledge goes no companies you mentioned conduct ALLL INDIA JEE type Exam for requirement.

    About Tamils going to BITS , you know better which community of tamils going to pilani. I wonder how can you classify them as refugees. There are more north Indian students in some collages in south than locals. Are these guys refugees also?

    @Statism

    I will leave you in your fictious world of Grandpa and Premji quote without disturbing.

    @Dev
    Might be politician are playing the reservation card with caste based reservation. Just honestly tell me how easy it is to abuse reservation, if it were economic based.

  32. @Zulfiquar:
    Dude, your allegation of religon coming in this argument is prepostorous. Me thinks you are clutching on straws to prove your point. Get to the point and debate whether reservation is right or wrong!!
    Your retort to Statism is totally like how Arjun Singh responded to Karan Thapar. No reply to the point: just potraying a moral high ground will not do.
    About TN and 69%reservation – If reservation would have worked the way you are claiming, there should not have been a need for IT professionals from outside Bangalore. Am not showing reginal bias so please do not start on North South divide.

    I want to ask you one question: If you say that 69% reservation has worked really well, then I can safely say that one or more generation of OBCs have been uplifted….that they have been given adequate oppurtunity to succeed. If that is the case do these fellow’s children need reservation since thy now have the capacity to be economically successful. Can I safely say that there should be no need for reservation in TN now…at least in 5 to 10 years time??

  33. @swati,

    LOL.. hhahaha.. That was funny.

    A similar (derogatory and baseless, I must say) argument was made by white supremacists in western countries against coloured people (black , brown , red or yellow). That their genes are to blame.

    Do you know that we carry 98% monkey genes!!

    =======
    @ GB,

    Reservations are a wrong cure. Period. Whatever stupid arguments that the pro reservationist so-called-liberals like Dilip Dsouza and Annie come up with. Examples – Merit is not the real test, blah blah. IIT is not a big shot institution, blah blah.. Upper caste people torture lower castes.. blah blah.. See matrimonial advertizements. .. blah blah..

    Ok. Now my points to all of these. Does every “upper caste” person go around with a danda in his hand hitting lower caste people. Why should the ones who dont think that caste matters and dont go around torturing lower castes, suffer for this.

    Ok, I agree for a while, merit is not the real test. Then what is ?? There is always a method to judge a candidate, and thats how merit comes into being. If I apply for joining the boxing team, my merit is strong biceps and shoulders, not my math and physics skills (or my caste). Even here merit applies. Ok, if merit is not the real thing, then how do you decide admissions.. Lucky draw ?? (What a dumb bunch of illogical crybabies, these pseudo-liberals).

    Ok, matrimonial advertizements. What is wrong if I prefer to marry someone from my community, and one who speaks my language. If I do like someone from another community, then those differences dont matter. My parents are ok with the idea of me marrying someone outside our caste/community/language. But if arranged marriage is the way for me, why would I not prefer someone who speaks my language and adjusts easier to my way of living. Ok ok…. failed marriages (love or arranged) are another debate.

  34. I really find this argument amazing. Upper caste people persecuted lower caste and so now lower caste should get reservations.

    Well, not all upper caste people were going around persecuting lower caste people. Yeah, there were a few like those zamindars they show in movies.

    Didnt a brahmin from Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam’s village scold the local school teacher for seating students separately as per caste. (Narrated by Kalam himself in his book).

    There are many upper caste people, who just live an ordinary life. I have a Thakur sw engr friend from UP. Now contrary to the image in your mind, he does NOT have any palatial bungalow, a few lathi-wielding (or 303 rifle) beefcakes, a few cars and servants milling all over his home. He is pretty much a middle class guy, with a small home, whose family still has a scooter and recently he bought a bike on EMI.

    Now, my community does not have any history of lower caste persecution. We come under upper class , but we were mostly a farming and trading community.

    My POINT – Why do we have to suffer for the sins of *somebody* else’s ancestors.

    Why.. Does the Indian law punish the son of a thief instead of the thief himself?

    Ok. I agree that lower caste need to be uplifted, and that social equality is still to be achieved. But reservations are not the way.

    A wonderful article, bang on target –
    http://in.rediff.com/news/2006/may/17guest.htm

  35. er, satish, i am afraid i did not mean to be funny.

    in marriages, people do try to find compatible partners– especially on the mental level. so its no wonder that the next generation (russian proverb) apple does not fall too far from the apple tree.

    but i am glad there is something called genetic mixup/mutation. so, a family of petty shopkeepers can produce meghnad saha, ramanujam dazzles and rabindranath rises head and shoulders above his cultured family and milieu.

    as for the 98%, don’t disparage it.
    it gives us our sense of society, dextirity,aggression, our sense of curiosity and the urge to get our back scratched. it makes us human

    for the remaining 2%, it makes us superhuman with our urges of kindness and musings about god, quantam physics and somebody else’s blog.

  36. well to sya the truth the last line was a killer :-). I am a student of computer science too and theres probabl;y .00001 % chance that any work i do makes it to a front page of a newspaper but that dosen mean that i wont do something gud in my life :-??

  37. One innocent query: What’s the similarity between Ex Indian captain Azhar, Ex music director Nadeem and Zulfiquar?

  38. @Dhananjay

    Yes reservation is working, the proof is all to see relative progress of South compared to north India. The process of empowerment will not be over in a decade and there are measures in place to reap the reservation benefits repeatedly by same persons.

    About reply to statism, the small concoted stories which have no basis but the fertile imaginations. By the way Dhananjay, what do you mean by raw and not able to speak kind of guy getting calls? Only “sophisticated and debating kind of guys are meritious? New definations of merit keep pouring…. and ya don’t judge me also.

    @An Ideal Boy

    Well the reservation we are talking about is in higher education for backward class students, not to illeterate village folks. Hope am clear.

    @Abhinav

    Yaar Abhinav you missed Salam khan! how could you……..don’t you remember the TOPI he wore? Where is your memory …oh oh sorry MERIT.

    MERIT you guys are talking about is nothing but having good memeory and reproducing in the exam. If there were MERIT we would have more Vishwasvaraya, Raman, Ramanujan from IIT’s and IIM’S. What we have is mediocre rattebaaz passed as meritious professional.

    Sorry to hardly anybody giving new perspective same old argument, who would you get treated from merit or quota guy. No one talks about more medical seats are marketed to highest bidder than through reservation. Hope no one heard of this, then let me take oppertunity to be “exclusive breaking news” like our news channel.

    Start proptesting all you upholders of merit against this seat hawking mafia.

  39. @GB,

    When I posted a second comment, it was moderated. I did not write anything obscene there. I wonder why it was not posted. After hitting submit, the page said “Your comment is awaiting moderation”.

    If theres anything wrong I said, just point it out to me. I might have inadvertently posted something bad.

  40. @ An Ideal Boy

    I expected nothing less from your prevois comments. Go get a life man and don’t hide behind ………well leave it.

  41. >> MERIT you guys are talking about is nothing but having good memeory and reproducing in the exam.

    @zufliquar,

    Yeah, if I tell you to add 454356 and 978535 , do you use your memory to do so. Or I show you 4 pictures and ask you to point the odd one out, I am testing your memory skills.. is it??

    Ok, tell me another way to judge merit then. What do you think we should do. Hold exams on the lines of GRE or GMAT, right??
    Or grant reservations for every single community of India. So that xyz subcaste of abc religion has 0.3 percent reservations, etc etc.

  42. For not so Subtle Zulfiquar, A direct meaning of my query: Stop playing minority card when u r beated black and blues in logics!

    Alright u r a muslim, big deal?
    That doesnt means that We shld start giving you some VIP treatment (taking care of ur relegious values offcourse!)…

    Why cant you jst try n act as a normal, educated Indian muslim ?

  43. Arnab,
    As always the discussion is lively and well attended, and has some fabulously interesting viewpoints from all over the place…. especially the contarians like Swati. I appreciate her courage, and that of Zulfiquar, etc, although I am totally opposed to their points of view, in the interest, surprisingly, of equity rather than efficincy. I hope I may add some value to the discussion here.
    It appears that there are two very different ideas that are being debated:
    1. Reservations as a concept in ANY public good, whether it is access to an IIX (T, M, etc), or an REX, or any such public X.
    The question is one of economics. You see, the notion here is one of economic rent. By interfering with a market, we encourage rent seeking and moral hazard, precisely what any ‘reservation’ does. So we see it, as your Baba notes, rent seeking behaviour by better off OBCs in your ancestral village, and everyone notes it, about the better off among the officially designated disadvantaged.
    The answer could be simple, off with it, but wait… we have a problem which is complex. You see, the IIX hands out supernormal returns due to the fact that it’s actually a production house (like Mukta Arts) that produces huge blockbuster returns for its stars. The stars exhibit behavior similar to all stars in any wood, namely they want the returns to be multigenerational, and to do so, will exert competitive pressure to ensure that there are barriers to entry for others who may compete for this producer’s time.
    Hence, the IIX now takes on added value, ergo,through socially engineered entrance tests that are designed to be competitive barriers (actually all entrance tests are, if you think about it, and exclusive by design rather than inclusive), encouraged and propagated by the star system. (I hope I dont have to be quantitative about this, but you can glance at the entrance tests and see what I refer to. OK I’ll drop a hint: try cracking the JEE Physical Chemistry minus Sienko and Plane, or Mechanics minus Resnick and Halliday, and so forth…. Access denied… Similar story with the CAT….. if you are a bright Bengali medium BA in Bangla Literature, don’t even think about trying the CAT, whereas the same access is not denied to an American BA in English Literature for the GMAT, you get the drift).
    So, that’s a socially engineered competitive barrier for you. In the distribution of this public good, an IIX, what do we do? Ironically it seems that both categories of folks: the designated disadvantaged, and the socially engineered privileged actually exhibit the same kind of rent seeking behavior: compete among themselves intragroup for privilege, and intergroup, erect barriers to entry.
    As economists and other social scientists have known for years, there are no general equilibrium (read fair, and market driven) solutions for the distribution of public goods: Arrow wrote about this in 1951 and Sen wrote his early brilliant papers on it. Here is a classic case of competing interest groups for a public good. So whose side do you come down on?
    Well, there is a great solution that you came up with yourself in response to your Baba’s comment: — make public monies available for quality coaching for the underprivileged. This actually leads to a partial equilibrium solution (read, adjusts the nature of the allocation to the different interest groups BEFORE the actual competitive action takes place) and moves along the cause of fairness a great deal.
    I will reserve my views on improving selection criteria to the post on Indian academia that I think you vaguely hinted to me about writing, in response to an earlier comment of mine on the topic.
    2. The second concept that is being debated is about the nature of evaluating the value of a hypercompetent technical undergraduate education.
    What I find missing in this subsection of the debate is a clear understanding that i) an engineering education is not meant to make you win the next Nobel in Physics but to develop scientific breadth in order to enhance efficiency and technical productivity; ii) competence is all that any undergrad education can deliver; In light of both these points, IITans have indeed made remarkable discoveries about fuzzy sets and black holes– truly earth shattering discoveries — and they are earth shattering precisely because they made these discoveries that go beyond an engineering education, not due to it. Fact is that the selection system in the JEE picks out smart people period. Not smart engineers per se. It is economics that drives Indian smart kids to overwhelmingly choose engineering as a basic discipline, nothing else. Brilliance is individual and often democratic. My opinion on this is again — Arnab, I await your post on academia (after Sourav), and we can really get into this. I think though, that this is a bit out of scope of the debate that you have so finely launched.
    Regards.

  44. @ Abhinav

    Well Abhinav, I did understood your query, no need to elaborate. Which just shows what kind of creature you are, always looking around for a reason to spew your venom. The hatred people like you ( are you?) have know no bounds. Tell me honestly starting with my first comment where did I use Muslim name or asked for favor.

    To argue about pet subjects: Muslim appeasement, four marriages, hajj subsidy, cruelty towards women, high fertility, Personal law …I am afraid this is not the forum. I can answer everything, but really if you think about it you will get answer to these propaganda better than any of my answers.

    Arnab has provided the comments section to share our views, which not many do preferring hit and run, which I appreciate. So don’t get into this Business of name calling, it will just vitiate the healthy discussion.

  45. @Ranjan Chakravarty

    Thank goodness there are still some persons left who are willing to listen the opposing view. I was about to leave this discussion, but there is some hope. The majority here wants to hear only which suits them, everready to suppress the opposing view with all their cultivated bias.

    Satish I can give answear to you… rather agree you are meritious student and deserve all the marks for the fantastic questions your brains figured out. Happy?

    @ Abhin
    you are kidding right to expect “normal, educated Indian muslim ” from me! tell me you are kidding

  46. Zulfiquar I was born n raised in a muslim majority city with muslim kids. I certainly dnt have anything against Muslims but I do have against morons.
    Anyways Mr. Muslim (ohhhhhh my gawd he is a muslim, respect him, dnt refute his stupid arguments since hez a muslim etc etc etc!!!!!!) U started everything with ur comment abt Pakistan N Afghanistan.

    What Arnab really meant by comparing India and Afghanistan/Pak had more to do with the technological advancement comparison then hindu-muslim stuff.

    Now le’mme explain to you issue of Azhar and Nadeem, Both were sucessful in India, both were stars, the moment they committed crime got thrown in the trash bin, the same India somehow xformed into a Muslim opressive cruel state within few hrs?

    Or was that the minority card played by them?
    Now come with something logical next time instead of Ohhhhhh I m a muslim, so respect me even if I’m a biggest dumbo created by the mighty Allah, since we live in secular country blah blah blah…

  47. @Abhinav
    Zulfiqar is the flag bearer of the backward classes and minorities. We are lunatics who have nothing but hatred for them 😉 Does not matter if I still spend time in the rural India and you have lots of Muslim friends.
    Zulfiqar, I am going to get a life but if you can send me your postal address I want to send you one Himesh Reshamiya song collection.

  48. @Nataraj: The problem you mention is true. However the government has their eye on the ball(s) for which now the private sector will be “forced” to employ these 8 year BE/BScs

    @Ankan: I didnt know that though.

    @Somebody: I think the IIT guys wont mind that.

    @Sounak: I also doubt that’s Premji only because CEOs are never supposed to upset the government.

    @Swati: Which is why reservations should work in the Class 8 level so that the person in question can make it to Class 9. It’s he who needs help. However the OBCs that want to get into IIT are a different kettle of fish—-you will be hard pressed to find people who come from the same background as the son of the lady who used to work for you.

    @Abhijit: True.

    @Sandip: As mentioned before, now these reservation students have reserved jobs. Soon the government will be reserving hot spouses for them….I dont know where its going to stop.

    @Zulfiqar: I would have brought Pakistan and Afghanistan even if you had a Hindu sounding name namely because I consider these to the biggest shit hole countries in the world with no potential for improvement. I should not have needed to clarify this because it is patently obvious to everyone. Except you. Or should I say it is obvious to you too. But as others have pointed out, you choose to (rather distastefully) play the “I am the minority card” —even though that’s totally irrelevant here.

    I would think the last CM of Karnataka SM Krishna worked actively for investments. And they are refugees because they classify themselves as such: they would not have had to leave TN had it not been for oppressive quotas which deny opportunities based on birth. They did not leave TN out of choice but out of compulsion. The people from north who flock to engg colleges in Bangalore do so out of choice because many of them have lower standards of admission simply as there are so many of them [If Karnataka had 60 engg colleges, in 1998 Bengal had 5].

    @Satish: Luck of the draw. Lets make the JEE into a lottery. That way its fun for all and Arjun Singh, who made his money off illegal lotteries, gets something for his plate too. You comment has been unmoderated—I dont know why it made its way into the moderation queue.

    @Clairvoyant: I am sure you would.

    @Zulfiqar: In the middle of all the “I am a Muslim” breastbeating, you forgot to understand the main point of the post. Otherwise you wouldnt have said: ‘
    “If there were MERIT we would have more Vishwasvaraya, Raman, Ramanujan from IIT’s and IIM’S. What we have is mediocre rattebaaz passed as meritious professional.

    Come to a US university dear Zulfi. And see IIT students and other Indian univ students come top off the class, get the best jobs and do amazing research work and you will see the Ramans and Ramanujans of today.

    @Ranjan:

    1) Your point about exclusivity. Now lets take the example you provide. The reason the IIM entrance test discriminates against the Bangla graduate is simply because the field of operation of IIM graduates is a place where proficiency in Bangla will not count. This is a law dictated by the market—-Mr Jones of McKinsey does not read Desh PujoSankhya. It is not a construct of the few to keep out many as I understand from your comment (reservations however are). By extension of your logic, marathon running is biased against fat people and movie herodom biased against ugly people. Now who can you blame for that?

    2) And yes the academia thing some other time.

  49. hey arnab…

    I am also sure the premiji’s comment is just for fun… the main point is to ridicule the idea of giving handouts to the OBC in the name of “uplifting the backward class”

    @Zulfiquar: U missed an important point in my earlier post regarding my grandpa… i.e… the reservation is a double edge sword… while it puts incompetent people in the important position and puts all of our life in danger… also it robs the really deserving people from these classes from their hard earned dignity and respect… like in my case it was the good doctor… also for your information the incident with my grandpa was not just a figment of my imagination

  50. This zulfikar seems to be having a grudge against exams, may be because he couldn’t pass any of these rattebaj exams! There is a Aesop fable about a fox who when doesn’t get to eat grapes starts shouting grapes are sour, grapes are sour!! Similarly, you are shouting rattebaj, rattebaj!!
    Have you appeared for IIT entrance exam in your life (any exam for that matter)? I can assure you that those are not mere memory tests (may be exams in our little schools are like that, but not in IIT).
    I would suggest you one thing – go to any of your friend who has appeared for IIT exam and ask him of if IIT tests are mere rattebaj tests.

  51. I havent read the blog mentioned in the post, coz the idea is stupid. But, however, I will say this: IIT’s are good undergraduate institutes and it should be the way undergraduate institutes should be. However, I feel that IIT’s do not undertake research the way it should take up. I feel that comparing the resources and talent available to the institute, they should spend more towards research. Maybe they do not have adequate grants from the government but they do have a huge alumni whom they can tap and they do tap for other matters. True, scientific discoveries are incremental. However, institutes which have earth shattering discoveries have an history of incremental research. We do find this area is not IIT’s main focus. Even, the basic research, forget about Enggrs, they do have Chemistry and Physics programs, but they do not have good research focus. Reasons being from funding to faculty focus. Faculty salaries may not be higher, but we all know, research money has a component which the facuilty takes.

    Btw, since so much talk about pros and cons about reservation. We deserve reservations, not because of the arguement whether they are right or wrong but because we are not protesting against it if we feel it is wrong. Think on these questions :

    How many students other than the doctors have protested?

    Why do the politicians fear that they would lose elections if they do not provide reservations?
    Why doesnt the middle class show its strength during elections and during important issues when it affects them?

    Also, statement from Arjun Singh in an interview with Karan Thapar

    Karan Thapar: Many people say that if reservations for OBCs in higher education happen, then the children of beneficiaries should not be entitled to claim the same benefit.
    Arjun Singh: Why?
    KT: So that there is always a shrinking base and the rate doesn’t proliferate.
    AS: I don’t think that that is a very logical way of looking at it.
    KT: Is that not acceptable to you?
    AS: No, it is not the logical way of looking at it.

  52. Rightly said — today’s research is best put in Newton’s quote “If we wish to see farther we must stand on the shoulder’s of giants.” Moreover, the research carried out today, is much more complicated than Newton’s laws for anyone to understand it fully at school level. And innovation, even if it’s Google’s search or E-mail isn’t a one man thing anymore. Anything earth-shattering involves years of incremental research work and isn’t going to be an apple falling on the head. And by what it seems Indians, if not the procreators, are certainly the ones who bring it to fruition.

    However, there still is the question of less journal entries, citations, patents etc:

    1. Those who wish to do research know that India isn’t the best place. US is far more conducive for research than India. But then, not everyone can come to the US, and those who still come, have to worry about several other things (money for one), before they can fully focus on research.

    2. Dr. C.N.R. Rao has rightly pointed out the erosion of science from India. We are becoming a bunch of non-creative engineers/doctors who are trained to do something efficiently at the most — not creatively. The fault however still doesn’t lie with the merit system. It’s the education system, and the high level of competition that deviates a child from doing something new to doing something better.

    3. Reservation: for whatever the reasons may be, it is hardly motivating to have something like this at every level *after school*. So even though South India might have created a wealth of talent, but isn’t reservation also one of the reasons for the large amount of brain-drain from that region. The research talent we could have gained by increasing the number of eligible students for higher education (make primary education free and mandatory), is lost by frustrating those who are capable at an undergraduate/graduate level.

  53. Arnab,
    Thanks for the reply. And I’ll hold you to your promise on 2. I actually want to read the comments of your father on that forthcoming post, as reading his comments here and elsewhere have been a treat.
    To your point No.1, though, please allow me to clarify”
    Though I’m actually referring to the much more general issue of rent seeking as beeing the root cause of this misallocation of priorities please let me clarify the example of the graduate in Bengali (and since it’s a stylized example, I pick the second hungry tiger in Alipore zoo, and say, MA in Bangla, First Class First), denied access.
    The point I am trying to make through the example is the pervasiveness of rent seeking behavior, and that such behavior is not sequestered in the designated (ie Sx, x=C, T, etc) underprivileged but pervades all the way to upper reaches of the intellectually capable space.
    Hence, to emphasize the point, I highlighted the tragedy that an Indian exam ensures that the BA in Bengali Literature is discriminated against in an Indian management entrance test WHEREAS a BA in English Literature or French Lit or German Lit is not discriminated against in admission to the best MBA schools in the West.
    I’ll drill down further: the GMAT is culture specific, and caters well to the verbally developed sections of the American population, and tests critical reasoning in the NATIVE language of the Americans. And Dauphine and HEC, etc for the French in French, and Erasmus for the Dutch in Dutch, and Cologne in German, and so on and on across the West.
    This is precisely where our exclusivity hampers our maximizing our national intellectual potential because the system that produces our supposed ‘stars’ from Mukta Arts feel that the distributor wants only a certain kind of masala, and those who don’t fit that mould are out. And that is just not true.
    Mr Jones who recruits for McKinsey or Morgan Stanley or Goldman does recruit all these Western Lit grads with MBAs from Wharton, Columbia Cornell or INSEAD, or HEC, or London Bus School, or Erasmus, or Rome or Copenhagen, because there is a lot of value attached by their business degree granting institution to their cultural background. Unlike in India.
    An IIM is an Indian PUBLIC institution, which systematically excludes a HIGHLY developed Indian cultural background, that of the second tiger in the Alipore zoo. I completely reject the notion that reading Desh (a Bengali equivalent of the New Yorker, for the non-Bengali non- American exposed), or Pujor Sankhya and knowing the pentametrics of Jibanondo do not equip you for a stellar managerial career. Quite the contrary.
    In fact, just for arguments’ sake, positioning in the Bengali speaking market (I believe it’s one of the world’s top 10 most widely spoken languages, and Bengali net worth globally is pretty decent and tappable as a market) is a skill that could be very well be global and P&G, Ogilvy and Mather, Levers, and certainly McKinsey could use it. Even if Jones doesn’t read Bengali, if properly positioned he’ll see that he needs deep Bengali skills in his team.
    In my opinion, I cannot liken IIM’s PGDBM to a marathon, or herodom (and ugliness again is culture and context specific, and a Charles Bronson could be a hero in one generation and ugly in another in the same culture) or an end in itself, it’s a NURTURING ground for managerial talent. Or it should be. And it IS a public good, produced by public diktat, paid for by public money and is at a cost to the society at large. It’s just biased in entrance, because the entrance process is a very mildly Indianised knock off of the GMAT, and that in itself is rent seeking and suboptimal. I could go on berating the test, but I think it meets certain needs because it caters to a certain subset of the population (and yes, I am guilty of benefiting from this, because as my name tells you, I won’t be in any reserved list in this century), and its just too much work to alter the lanscape and put a real culture specific test in place. Just too much work. And Arnab, a whole lot of people with a certain background have got this test down cold. Seriously. But that’s not the point.
    My specific point is that rent seeking behavior is universal and creates moral hazard, whether in sophisticated form as these culturally biased entrance tests or crudely, as in politically pushed reservations.
    My larger point is the whole system is suboptimal as it is, and needs a revamp. And, I feel that the only short term solution, though band aid, is publicly funded coaching. And also an immediate need is more rational entrance tests that enable the IIxs to identify, train, incubate and nurture pure, unbiased talent from all over our culturally and intellectually rich and diverse country.
    Regards.

  54. If we have reservations this is what is going to happen (read below). I recieved this is e-mail and had a good laugh overit. I hope you guys enjoy it too….Funny but very relevant.

    An excerpt from Emcee’s diary exactly 50 years from now

    Ahmedabad, 30 April 2056: I attended the bash at the IIM-OBC Alumni Association to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the reservation of seats for OBCs (Other Backward Castes) in IIMs. Since I’m not an OBC, I was not supposed to attend, but at present, we MBFCs (Moderately Backward Forward Castes) together with the Non-Scheduled Tribes have a political alliance with the OBCs. We sipped champagne and talked about how so many of us had progressed from reserved seats in the IIMs to reserved jobs to reserved promotions. Unfortunately, the party broke up when a Non-scheduled Tribes faculty member objected to the OBCs dancing with all the pretty girls — he wanted equal opportunities for every caste at each dance. I pointed out that the Non-scheduled Tribes had exceeded the quota of champagne reserved for them. The party ended in a pitched caste battle.

    1) May 2056: Today, I became president of the IIM Board of Directors. Under the present rotating presidency system, a member of each caste is made the president by turn. When it was the turn of the MBFCs for president, they had to choose me because I’m the only MBFC on the campus. True, I’m only the campus dhobi, but then every caste must be given an equal opportunity. All those centuries of oppression by the OSBFCs (Only Slightly Backward Forward Castes) and the OFCs (Other Forward Castes) must be rectified. I hope to restore the high standards at IIM — I overheard some foreigners calling it the Indian Institute of Morons, the other day.

    2) May 2056: They’ve announced the cricket team for the series against Australia. I was overjoyed when they chose an MBFC man as captain. But my hopes were dashed when I realised he was a Most Backward Forward Caste and not a Moderately Backward Forward Caste. The selection committee lamented that it was gross discrimination that no member from the Jarowa tribe (the Stone Age tribe in the Andamans) had ever found a place in the Indian cricket team. A squad has since been dispatched to the Andamans to capture a Jarowa tribal to play in the national team. I hope he will improve their performance — they had an innings defeat against the Maldives recently. I would have played myself except for the fact that I lost a leg some years ago when I was in hospital with a toothache and a doctor recruited through the Unscheduled Caste quota extracted my leg instead of my tooth.

    3) May 2056: There are too many NFCs (Neo-Forward castes) in the IT business. Under the terms of the Business Reservation Act, their firms will now be taken over by the other castes. I hope they will be able to restore the Indian IT industry back to its former glory. For some unfathomable reason, it has gone down the drain after job reservations were implemented. I went for a movie featuring star actor Mungeri Ram. He may lack teeth, be four-feet-three and have hair growing out of his nose, but this year it’s the turn of the EBC-RYs (Extremely Backward Caste-Rural Yokels) to be stars and Mungeri Ram is the best of the lot. I wonder why foreign movies have become so popular.

    4) May 2056: A truly great day. We now have an OFBMBC (Other Forward But Moderately Backward Caste) general as the Head of the Armed Forces. I hope he’ll be able to win back the territory we lost ever since reservations were implemented in the Army. Since then, the north has been taken by Pakistan, the North-east by China, the east by Bangladesh and the south by Sri Lanka and the Maldives. Only last winter, we lost the war against Bhutan and free India is now limited to the western coastal states. But I’m sure the OFBMBC general will turn the tide.

    5) May 2056: My wife and I have been blessed with a bonny daughter. Since my wife’s an SBBNSBC (Slightly Backward But Not So Backward Caste), my daughter will be an MBFC-SBBNSBC. I must lobby for reservation for her caste. She’s the only member and I’m sure she has a great future.

  55. @Ranjan Chakravarty
    There was this guy i knew who got into IIT in the first chance. He dropped out and gave the exam again. He didnt qualify the second time. He was a briliant guy but he couldnt cope or the simple reason that he did not understand english well. He gave the first exam in hindi and got through initially but couldnt cope because the teaching in IITs is in english.
    IITs/IIMs etc are what we like to call national universities. They don’t cater to regional tastes. Even when it comes to rgional institutes we have seen what happened to BECS thanks to no english. You may be the master in your suject bt unless you get your point across it is rather useless when sitting in an interview. I remember my dad after conducting an interview in Shibpur when he came back. He was like these people score amazing in the tests but they cant speak. How in the world will they manage in a workplace where you need to spek in english because the guy nest to you doesn’t know bangla. and i remember not too a distant past where bengalis had difficulty speaking in hindi as well.
    Whats Seinko in Physical Chemistry btw ? can’t remember any such book. However you are wrong that they are the ones which hold the key to the lock. They can help but there are lots of people i know who havent used any of the books but still got through just based on the public school books. The entire senario may have changed thanks to the coaching institutes but even without them people do get into the IITs and IIMs and these ppl do better anyway. Of course the truly dedicated are totally different.

  56. Perhaps the basic flaw in the arguement for reservations in elite institutions that 100 odd seats in IITs/IIMs is going to uplift the entire community. If someone who is Hindi-speaking with a substandard schooling, how can he compete with his urbanised, public-schooled and probably coached caste brethen ? It is not as if all OBCs are a concentrated in rural ghettos, infact some of them are pretty rich people and their lack of representation is most probably due to lack of effort rather than anything else.
    Certainly the creamy layer is going to become more creamier. I saw some secy. of the Maharashtra govt. on CNN-IBN. When asked point-blank if his children deserve reservation, he kept blabbering about reservation being a social-contract between the backward castes and the government and nobody had the right to question it. I wonder what the proponents of reservations have to say to this ?

    And on top of this, people lament the fact that students of IITs/IIMs leave the country for greener pastures. This divisive step will probably hasten the process. Infact, Indian companies might start fleeing too, once the proposed reservations in the private sector are implemented 2 years later. Goodbye “India Shining”. It was nice never to meet you.

  57. @Sandip:
    “Chemistry: Principles and Properties” by Michell J. Sienko and Robert A. Plane. the original Chem funda text for my generation, written by 2 Cornell profs. Popular in the 80s.
    But think about the whole argument I made, that’s critical. There are many layers, its about the flaw in the system design that encourages rent seeking behaviour. This is Arnab’s blog though, and I have already taken up too much space.
    Regards.

  58. >> Satish I can give answear to you… rather agree you are meritious student and deserve all the marks for the fantastic questions your brains figured out. Happy?

    @zufliquar,

    ROFL… hahaha.. no man, I am no meritorious student, I just asked you a logical question. I had to pay lakhs of rupees as donation to get admission into engg in a college in a remote corner of the country. I admit, given my capabilities, I dont deserve to be in IIT.

    I just asked you a valid question. Read my previous posts. How do you define merit. Dont beat around the bush, just be cool and think about it. How do you decide admissions, if not on merit. And merit measurement techniques?? Well, for engg, you measure math skills, for cricket, your batting bowling and fielding skills matter. For medicine, you have to be good at Biology. You should “remember” how the heart works, right.

    And yes, you need to have a good memory. You need to remember how to treat a patient in case of xyz disease. Yeah, google is around, right? So we dont need doctors, everyone here is a doc, thanx to google.. LOL..

  59. Yeah we are taking up a lot of space in his blog.

    Yes the CAT is an Indianised version of the GMAT. to quote u ‘the GMAT is culture specific, and caters well to the verbally developed sections of the American population, and tests critical reasoning in the NATIVE language of the Americans’
    etc etc. What will you call the NATIVE language of India which stretches from the Noth to the South?

  60. Dear Arnab,

    I could give reply to each one, but it will only bring out their grudge. I know after watching FOX & CNN anybody can associate a Muslim with al-qaida and afghanistan to which I will symphatise only. Isn’t it how powerful the media has become? which so easily subconsiusly do the association, without we being aware.

    If you do allow me now to talk on reservation, I wonder why no one has spoken against Higher education seat hawking to the highest bidder? Is it convenient to you guys? Does the so-called Merit do not suffer of this malady?

    Ya Arnab you wanna know about krishna! good you took the name. Well whe did get the tag is coz he was buddy to the Brahmin shop of Bangalore. You know as long as you are with them you get the good conduct certificate. Remember how militant our narayan murthy was agaisnt Gowda? Well now the Gowda and Sons has got good governance certificate. Guess why! Well first they got 8000 Acres of land! 800 acres? and second now they are with BJP.

    Thanks for invitation Arnab, but I fear bush might have already read my comments.

  61. @golmaal,

    LOL.. 😀

    Amazing stuff. You made my day !!

    I got this below mail yesterday…

    Did anyone watch the news yesterday on TV.. (I think it was star news).

    Manmohan is going for reservations in industrial sector too. I think this will be of great help, in that case.

  62. Arnab,

    That piece on the Other India was a very serious piece of bullcrap and i said so in the comments section. I honestly think that its written by some kid just out of her nappies.

    It is nice to read something that enlightens us about issues and events. But most of times we dont see that happening. We have more prevarications, hedging and outright lies being peddled as opinion. The Reservations debate has been completely hijacked by such bloody hacks.

    Regards.

  63. Dear Arnab,

    I agree with you completely. However reading between the lines of what this “lady” has to say…

    “almost none of our wonderful IIT-ians (for whom such pitted battled are being fought…”

    My question remains – Why aren’t the IITians/IIMites protesting against this so vehemently? I am not saying – they are not. But is it just that taking a “political stand” is not what these guys prefer?

    Wishes,
    Vivek

  64. Zulfiquar,

    I do not think GB quoted examples of Pakistan and Afghanistan out of any communal motives which you accusing him of.

    As an aside while you cry hoarse over victimization of your community, you have no hesitation in disparaging brahmins, respect is a two way street.

    Regards

  65. Dear A,

    That was a great post. That incremental change was spot on. However irksome Ann’s viewpoints may have been , I simply laughed as it as only people who are not acquainted with what it takes to prepare for IIT and CAT and what those institutions are can make such comments. Just like to some people in India, how good a person is in computer science is determined by his competence in Java or how many programming languages he knows.

    This kind of banal line of thought naturally questions the efficacy of the system by looking at the output , and finding it not according to his/her satisfaction (like steam engine light bulbs etc) starts questioning the system and tries to create a hollow argument of justifying reservations.

    Of course as kaku (Dr. A . Ray) puts it “Regarding measurement of merit, there is no precise method on which everybody will agree. JEE or CAT is certainly not the only measure of merit. But, then, one has to accept some measure and go by it.”

    Wonderful statement.
    To be perfectly honest, taken in isolation, the questions are valid. Why dont IIMs have as many journal pubs as other institutes? But using that as an argument to justify reservations is like saying that since my car aint giving good mileage, using an inferior quality fuel wont make a difference.

    Let us assume for a moment that the IIT entrance tests are flawed. But the person who gets in IITs (w/o quota) (say a mechanical engg) knows calculus well wnough to understand PDE and heat equations. Then he can go to say a US univ and do stuff on Navier Stokes equation etc. Wheather he can do some good research on that field later on is not clear- he may or may not. But a 49.5% boy is handicapped from the start. He will struggle through IIT. Can he be expected to write good PHd papers later on? The answer is an emphatic no. It is immensely sad that the govt is trying to play with IITs . I even dont support that the IIT exam should be made easier .

    At one point you say that you are not from IIT. Well thats not because you were not good enough to get through IIT- a man of your intelligence can crack any competitive exam- but blame desibaba, pradeep, khanna, cricket and south point girls for that.

  66. As an IITian, I am really sorry to inform Miss Annie that I too am not doing any earth shattering work. I wanted to apologise for this to her, but her site seems to have been pulled down(or sank)…probably because of the huge hits she got after your wrote this post 😉

    Anyways, another of your insightful post, and appreciating it sounds so very cliched. That part, I think should now go unsaid.
    [long time reader, first comment]

  67. Arnab, sorry you could not find my post in Anne’s blog, and yes I did post as Shan. Let me paraphrase what I wrote to her:

    She had mentioned her experience as a English graduate as an argument against merit. Basically what she said was that since her originality (read merit) was not recognized, therefore merit does not matter. Even if we, for a moment, leave aside her obvious syllogistic error Xs are not Ys, therefore Xs are not Zs), I gave my own interpretation of what might have happened to her at college.

    You see, I am also an MA in English from Pune University. It’s a reasonably prestigious seat of learning, at least by reputation. In my class the vast majority of students were from the Maharashtra quota i.e. from colleges in Maharashtra, who got the admission to MA without even having to try, either through the Maharashtra quota or through the SC/ST quota. There were approximately 10-12 open seats for which the “outside university” students i.e. ALL other colleges across the country had to compete for through a written examination. Anyway the upshot was that the 10 of us who got through on merit tended to stick together, and half of us were from Calcutta Univ.

    In the examinations, we had experiences similar to Anne’s i.e. no matter how hard we tried, marks were not forthcoming. This was mystifying till a professor and senior students kindly pointed out that our standard of English was too “hi-fi” for the examiners, who were all from rural colleges AND from reserved categories, and that they felt resentment when they read all that “fancy and original” stuff we wrote (“What do these high caste outsiders think of themselves?” syndrome. Needless to say this was shocking. Some of us accepted it and to increase grades went the guide-book way, Some, like me, tended to follow the middle path, but we somehow passed with good scores.

    But interestingly, the reserved category students always seemed to score well, and without even being able to string a coherent sentence together! So while I can understand Anne’s frustration, my conclusion is quite different. It is because if reservation that merit does not (and didn’t in her case) matter any more. Reservation has led to this us-vs-them attitude that has permeated to the depths of academia in the country.

    One more thing. Only two of the so called “upper caste” students in my batch (or the preceding and succeeding batches have actually become teachers. Why you ask? Because there are NO jobs available for lecturers in Maharashtra for the open category because of the un-cleared backlog for reserved category lecturers. The two who are teaching? Chandigarh and Guwahati respectively.

    The sad thing is that these reserved category MAs who can hardly speak English (they used to be more comfortable conversing with the professors in Marathi) all went and became lecturers in places like Latur and Sangli. They will now teach a new generation of English grads their brand of the language, leading to the spiraling down of quality of education.

    This is what reservation does, and what people like Anne refuse to recognize.

  68. I have read a comment in between saying “how many ppl other than doctors have protested?”

    Well, the timing was impeccable..it is vacations time u dumbo!!

    I am an alumnus of IIT Guwahati, and i am currently studying in IIM Lucknow. From the discussion going on in both the institutes’ group mails, I can say that there is ovewhelming support for NO reservations. From the forwards that I receive, I am sure this is the case with other IITs and IIMs as well.

    @Arnab: I feel that it is becoming fashionable not just to bash iitans, but also to bash merit and hard work in general. If you find it interesting, see my post on this topic (http://mlnppp.blogspot.com/2006/05/merit-hard-work-and-reservation-issue.html), ok..shameless publicity..i agree!!

  69. @Shan
    Completely understood your points. Myself having finished PhD from a reputed research institute in Pune, saw something similar. About 15 of the total 300 scientists are highly productive, producing about 300 publications per year in high impact international journals. And the reputation solely depends on these 15 scientists. The rest of the lot is famous for playing spider solitaire from 9:30-10:00, having breakfast & tea in the canteen from 10:00-11:00, solitaire from 11:00-1:00, lunch from 1:00-2:00, solitaire (or some other game) from 2:00-3:00, tea from 3:00-4:00, solitaire from 4:00-5:00, and leave at 5:00. I might have exaggerated a little. But this is more or less the real picture. Quite expectedly, a majority of these people are ST/ST/OBC (more than 50%, god knows how), and can’t speak a complete sentence in english although being a PhD in science.
    Now divide the total no. of publications with the total no. of scientists, and you’ll get the average productivity. And also have an idea why the scientific acheivements of India are going down.

  70. GB,

    Coming to the post you quoted. I find amazing the mental leap which the writer makes from “there are flaws in judgement of merit” to “merit is irrelevent”.

    I find this latest fad of dismissing merit as mind boggling.

    Anirban(80#)

    I find your arguments disappointing.
    The reason sarkari babus do not work has hardly anything to do with caste and more to do with incentives (or lack of it) structure. As someone who has lived almost all life among governments servants let me assure caste is irrelevant.

    Also I fail to understand why a scientist who can not speak in English translates into bad scientist.
    Recently I spent some time in a Japanese university with brilliant professors. Hardly any of them could speak fluent english.

    If I have to hazard a guess I think you must be from some “St” school where (allegedly) the most important component of education is snobbery and contempt for those who can not speak in british (or american) accent that is HMT (Hindi Medium Types) in Delhi and Vernie (Ghati) in Mumbai.

    Regards

  71. Pingback: Voice From a 2.5-World Country » Weighing In

  72. shan says: In the examinations, we had experiences similar to Anne’s i.e. no matter how hard we tried, marks were not forthcoming. This was mystifying till a professor and senior students kindly pointed out that our standard of English was too “hi-fi” for the examiners, who were all from rural colleges AND from reserved categories, and that they felt resentment when they read all that “fancy and original” stuff we wrote (”What do these high caste outsiders think of themselves?” syndrome. Needless to say this was shocking. Some of us accepted it and to increase grades went the guide-book way, Some, like me, tended to follow the middle path, but we somehow passed with good scores.

    … and i agree. as a student at kv, in my board exams – 10th and 12th respectively – i got 72% and 50% (yes, fifty) respectively in english. dude who could not even read english properly in 12th, got 62% or so. the three dudes in the class whose english i admired ended up with 50, 51 and 51!

    as one who regularly devoured agatha christie, enid blyton etc. at that stage, 50 in english was pure injustice. that i got 770/800 (99th percentile, of course) in gre verbal was probably because i mugged up barron’s pretty good plus because i managed to memorize all the comprehension passages beforehand (a “typical desi rattoo totaa” – my pal zulfiquar will probably say). too bad i could not memorize my 10th and 12th text books :-(.

    in fact, zulfi reminds me of a school classmate – chishti was his name (real, not imaginary). when i was topping my class through high school, he used to say that i knew the questions beforehand, as my father was in an administrative position. unfortunately, i did not get to see his face after 10th board exams when i was a clear 2.5% ahead of the person who stood second.

    – s.b.

  73. Zulfiquar:

    Let the Central Government enforce reservations in private companies and watch how the foreign investment in Tamil Nadu vanishes.

    Aby

  74. @somebody

    i too have a simillar experience to narrate. before the 12th English board exams, my school teachers told me not to give unconventional answers. I was supposed to stick to what was seen as “correct” and not deviate at by applying any kind of imaginative thought. regardless of how hard I tried, I ended up scoring so poorly that I had to give a test at IIT to prove my competence in the language!

  75. Ranjan says:

    OK I’ll drop a hint: try cracking the JEE Physical Chemistry minus Sienko and Plane, or Mechanics minus Resnick and Halliday, and so forth….

    You are someone who thinks that reading such fancy stuff enhances your concepts in the respective subjects, and I know why is that. Because you never care to look back at your own country. Try reading Dr. H.C. Verma’s Concept of Physics. You would not require any kind of props like “501 MCQs” and the much hyped book of uber physics, Resnick Halliday (now also Walker). A point to note, read the part about ‘propagation of waves on a string’ in Resnick. If you have a decent idea of physics, you will very easily find out what’s wrong.

    You would be thinking where from I got such a ‘stupid’ idea. From Vinay Aggarwal, B.Tech (Electrical Engg) from IIT-kgp, selected by MIT to pursue MS (Computational Engg) from Jan 2007. Incidentally, he happened to be my teacher for the prvious academic session.

  76. Ranjan says:

    OK I’ll drop a hint: try cracking the JEE Physical Chemistry minus Sienko and Plane, or Mechanics minus Resnick and Halliday, and so forth….

    You are someone who thinks that reading such fancy stuff enhances your concepts in the respective subjects, and I know why is that. Because you never care to look back at your own country. Try reading Dr. H.C. Verma’s Concept of Physics. You would not require any kind of props like “501 MCQs” and the much hyped book of uber physics, Resnick Halliday (now also Walker). A point to note, read the part about ‘propagation of waves on a string’ in Resnick. If you have a decent idea of physics, you will very easily find out what’s wrong.

    You would be thinking where from I got such a ‘stupid’ idea. From Vinay Aggarwal, B.Tech (Electrical Engg) from IIT-kgp, selected by MIT to pursue MS (Computational Engg) from Jan 2007. Incidentally, he happened to be my teacher for the prvious academic session.

  77. @Gaurav
    For your kind information, I have studied in a purely bengali medium school upto class XII (though my english is as fluent as the convent educated, that’s a separate issue).
    And I’m not talking about sarkari babus. Those are scientists working in reputed research institutes, and supposed to be considered as part of country’s intellectual development. Getting a handsome amount of salary compared to university professors.
    In most of the Indian universities, and all the IITs and research institutes, it’s mandatory to do research in english. Write paper or thesis in english. Also have to present the work in front of international community in english. So not knowing english properly after doing a PhD in science definitely can be considered as a handicap.

  78. Story of two poor boys, one from BC one from Non BC. Both learn in school. They were scoring similar marks in school exam. After finishing school, BC student got admission to Medical course, while Non BC had to be satisfied with some non-professional course. After finishing education BC boy started earning handsome money, while Non BC still remained poor.
    Isn’t this reverse discrimination?

  79. “As mentioned before, now these reservation students have reserved jobs. Soon the government will be reserving hot spouses for them….I dont know where its going to stop”
    gud one dude, but this is the sad reality of India.

  80. I just wanted to add more fuel to the fire 🙂

    ————
    The new DMK-led government in Tamil Nadu will begin distributing free colour TVs to the poor on September 15 this year.

    All school students studying in Tamil Nadu will have to learn Tamil from next academic year.
    ————

    Read more about our at …

    http://tinyurl.com/kn4jk

    I was hoping they would use that kind of money for educating everyone so that they could buy TVs on their own.

    Making Tamil compulsory reeks of Xenophonia. Did someone say “Globalization” or “India Shining”?

  81. @ ranjan chakraborty
    i am supposed to be a contarian.
    er, what kind of a beastie is that?

    it seems that due to ultrasonography, female foeticide is scewing the demographic profile of india.

    as we indian shemales are becoming an endangered half-species, shouldn’t we have reservation for ‘us’?

    the hrd ministry has already made education free for the single girl child in the kendriya vidyalayas.

    since i have a daughter, i am waiting to see what other freebies the govt. is planning to dole out.

    what say you folks?

  82. @Ranjan Chakraborty: As usual you make some fine points. I liked your contrarian arguments. Let me just dwell on some of your points:

    “Hence, the IIX now takes on added value, ergo,through socially engineered entrance tests that are designed to be competitive barriers (actually all entrance tests are, if you think about it, and exclusive by design rather than inclusive), encouraged and propagated by the star system. (I hope I dont have to be quantitative about this, but you can glance at the entrance tests and see what I refer to. OK I’ll drop a hint: try cracking the JEE Physical Chemistry minus Sienko and Plane, or Mechanics minus Resnick and Halliday, and so forth…. Access denied… Similar story with the CAT….. if you are a bright Bengali medium BA in Bangla Literature, don’t even think about trying the CAT, whereas the same access is not denied to an American BA in English Literature for the GMAT, you get the drift).”

    I kinda get what you wanna emphasize here. But trust me in US too competitive exams are damn costly. I am preparing for the CFA exam and the study material costs a lot. Regarding the CAT vs GMAT thing, youve to understand that MBA in India strangely takes in a lot of freshers and “turn” them into managers, so to speak. CAT is designed out to filter out a large number of aspirants and the structure of the exam favours people who are quantitaively oriented and know a bit of english. This automatically puts on the backfoot someone like a social science graduate. No wonder most of the IIM students are engineers. They are also preferred over non engineers in GD and PI. In US, GMAT is just a part of the application process and work experience is of paramount importance. I also think that the CAT should not be the only paramemter to filter out people. IIMC I hear takes a separate test for PGDCM. Similarly I think a stringent math test should be made mandatory for people aspiring to mba’s in finance(w/o PDE Proabability and stochastic how can you understand Black-Scholes and Ito’s lemma? )But however many flaws you may find with the exam system, the persons going in have some sort of merit.

    “As economists and other social scientists have known for years, there are no general equilibrium (read fair, and market driven) solutions for the distribution of public goods: Arrow wrote about this in 1951 and Sen wrote his early brilliant papers on it. Here is a classic case of competing interest groups for a public good. So whose side do you come down on?”

    Wow, I never thought about it from that POV. Thanks for your insights. But just because there is no closed form solution , so to speak…we should not stop from our effort to find an optimal one. As many of the above commentators have said, the people who are beneficiaries of the quota system are found wanting more often than not. So even though this form of disbursment of goods is economically justifiable, dont you think that there should be statistical tests conducted to review the efficacy of the disbursement procedure?

    In fact if I recall, GB has written in an earlier post that resrevation upto a point is OK, but 49.5% is just too much. You know what….I understand that there is no difference in intrinsic merit between an general quota and a SC/ST. One can always learn. One of the great things about the education in US is the tremendous flexibility. Say I did my undergrad in sexology . Then I want to do my PhD in economics. If I harbored similar aspirations in India and went to speak with people in big institutes ,they will tell me to go and f myself. I would also be useless in any competitive exam . But there are many many colleges in US which would say “OK , so you are an expert in sex and wanna learn eco. Fine take some prerequisite courses … study Mas-collel Green, Time Series , some stat, Game theory, etc etc and then start your PHD coursework. ” Now the ill-equipped quota students in India who are facilitated easy access to institutes of higher learning are not helped to bridge the gap between them and the merit quota students and hence they remain perpetual underperformers. Can you blame any private company then for not being too inclined to recruit caste people? In short its a no win situation as far as producing quality output from educational institutes is concerned. Increasing quota will only exacerbate the problem. Say even if we have quota, will these politicians accept if those same quota students are thrown out of the institute after poor performance? No. There was no effort to pull these people up from mdeicrity in the first place (primary and secondary education) and a lack of accountability ensures that mediocrity stays just that or goes down, but never up.

    “I will reserve my views on improving selection criteria to the post on Indian academia that I think you vaguely hinted to me about writing, in response to an earlier comment of mine on the topic.”

    Look forward to reading it.

    “What I find missing in this subsection of the debate is a clear understanding that i) an engineering education is not meant to make you win the next Nobel in Physics but to develop scientific breadth in order to enhance efficiency and technical productivity; ii) competence is all that any undergrad education can deliver; In light of both these points, IITans have indeed made remarkable discoveries about fuzzy sets and black holes– truly earth shattering discoveries — and they are earth shattering precisely because they made these discoveries that go beyond an engineering education, not due to it. Fact is that the selection system in the JEE picks out smart people period. Not smart engineers per se. It is economics that drives Indian smart kids to overwhelmingly choose engineering as a basic discipline, nothing else. ”

    I agree with every word you say here. But how does this justify reservation. Please illustrate.

    Regarding Saurav, –ektu opekkha koro. Hara suru hoysche. Eta hobe ami jantam. Ebar dhire dhire hyper inflated bubble ta bust korbe. Tokhon onke lok expose hoye jabe….jothasomoye GB mukh khulbe.

  83. arjunsinghsbadsongs:

    looks like to understand comments here, we need to learn la bongobhasha.

    swati:

    gb and i appear to agree over reservations for women in iit (and other ii* institutes too, for that matter). bring it on :-).

    – s.b.

  84. @Sounak: I understand. It would be a cold day in hell when the so-called captains of our industry became so forthright.

    @KK: I am a little suprised (actually more than a little) why other kinds of students have not protested or not protested as virulently as doctors. There is nothing known as the “middle class”—-politicians have taken care of that. The principle of vote-bank politics is the compartmentalization of the population into interest groups–Dalits, minorities, regional identities, language. Which is why there is no entity called the “middle class” any more —at least politically.

    @Sach1tb: Now if only people like Zulfiqar could understand that there actually is brain drain from the south.

    @Ranjan: Again I stand by my point. There is a market for French-speaking managers (in France) and a market for English-speaking managers (the world). However there is not such a market for exclusively Bengali speaking management people. And the fault for that doesnt lie with the elitist educational system. Maybe this will change. Maybe Metlife do look for managers conversant with Bengali because they need to sell insurance to shopowners in Queen’s —but IIXs cannot make that assumption at the entry level. It is obligated to make an evaluation: will this student be able to maintain a job in the world market? If his/her English is not upto it, then there are alternatives available.

    “Mr Jones who recruits for McKinsey or Morgan Stanley or Goldman does recruit all these Western Lit grads with MBAs from Wharton, Columbia Cornell or INSEAD, or HEC, or London Bus School, or Erasmus, or Rome or Copenhagen, because there is a lot of value attached by their business degree granting institution to their cultural background. Unlike in India.”

    And again that’s simply because there is a market for their cultural background.

    “I completely reject the notion that reading Desh (a Bengali equivalent of the New Yorker, for the non-Bengali non- American exposed), or Pujor Sankhya and knowing the pentametrics of Jibanondo do not equip you for a stellar managerial career. Quite the contrary.”

    I agree. But along with this, the person has to know English for above mentioned reasons.

    @golmaal: 🙂

    @Anon Coward: The harm being done to the nation will be irreparable.

    @Zulfiqar: Read Gaurav’s comment. I couldnt have expressed it better.

    @Pankaj: And so it has been.

    @Vivek: Perhaps due to the timing.

    @Vulturo: Thanks

    @yourfan2: The government doesnt care if the reservation people do PhDs or not. They just want them to get jobs (which they will also assure). And thus buy votes like Karunanidhi who is distributing color TVs to “poor people” bought on taxpayer’s money.

    As to why I didnt get through IIT, true. But it was also because of my HS syllabus and because of the inordinate amount of time I had to spend on my Bangla (1st language) because I was never good at it.

    @Amit: Thank you..

    @Shan: Excellent comment. And a sad and pathetic state of affairs. I really would like to see a pro-reservation guy stand upto your story and try to justify his/her viewpoint.

    @Prasanth: Yes from your blogpost, Manmohan Singh’s role here has been nothing short of shameful.

    @Jammu: Thank you..

    @Srivjit: Indeed it is.

    @yourfan2: Yes I am waiting till the end of this series.

  85. er, a TRUE story

    this was in the good ol’ days of ussr where everybody was destined for a job, t’was in their fundamental rights– right to work as opposed to the capitalist idea of unemployment.

    ok, so at this very very provincial seat of learning, (say tbilisi) there was an institute that turned out teachers of english.(all the BEST institutes were at moscow)

    there was this duffer who did so badly that he was given the job of making the children learn the english script and something like cat-sits-on-the-mat.

    then he was packed off to teach children somewhere in the siberian forests

    years later, when the government inspector of schools got around to that communist-forsaken corner of siberia, he found an entire village proficient in georgian, which they knew as english!

    the poor teacher had taught them a ‘foreign’ language which he felt he knew thoroughly, his own mothertongue.

    verbam sapienti sat.

  86. @Gaurav,

    Your comment against Anirban’ view is smeared with the same bias that you claimed Anirban is suffering from, and the comparison with Japanese scientists show how little you know of Indian higher education system, although it did show the fact that it was intended for, i.e., you have recently visited a jap research university and kudos for that.

    Unlike japan, In India the language of higher education in Science is English, and people are expected to publish in journals and at least read and comprehend them which are in English ( forget the international, even the national level journals are in english). I request you to name even one good PG level book in ANY of the sciences which are written in ANY vernacular language.

    Don’t blame me for any kind of bias as till high school I have studied entirely in vernacular medium but that does not mean I harbour any biases against persons educated in english-medium. To study and teach PG level in India english is needed and if someone is found wanting then I think it is his fault entirely as opportunities are there to mend the gap, if not mended then he has not studied enough. Please do not mix fluency in english with snobbery based on accents.

    to talk about anirban’s point of view, I myself has spent reasonable amount of time in one of the foremost research inst. in India, and I totally agree with him.

  87. @Yourfan2: Thanks. BTW, my arguments are NOT pro-reservation, not one bit. Not only is my position one of being vehemently against reservation, but I go so far as to say that there should be no system driven barriers to entry for the talented, be it overt and crude (Arjun Singh’s recipe) or covert and sophisticated, as in exclusionary entrance testing. The reason being, as I have repeatedly said, interference with the market by engineering it leads to rent seeking behaviour and moral hazard. If market interference begins to take hold in a systematic fashion, eventually the custodian of value is incentivised to subvert it. In the current unhappy case it is the government as custodian of the learning institutes that is subverting their intent. The case I am warning about is one step further: where the usual exclusion is taken care of, and subtler exclusion enters the picture. In both cases you end up at a socially inefficient and inequitable solution, where the prize is allocated in line with the objectives of a dominant group: this group may be either politically dominant or income wise dominant, or access wise dominant. Bottom line, not a free competitive system in any case, because the first principle of free and competitive markets is no barriers to entry. And no barriers for anyone means no reservations of course.
    @Arnab: Thanks.
    @Sandip: You raise the key question: What should an all-India “native” language for purposes of acertaining intellectual and analytical aptitude be? Certainly not English ALONE….We can take a stab at it, and I believe should be in various languages, but we can debate that later: Maybe we could work on an optimal mix that enables a manager to function well? Hmm, awith homage to Syata Bose, how about a test of Shakespearean Bengali, Tulsidas’ English and Rabindranath’s Hindi? Seriously, that’s a complicated question and we should think about it. The problem itself is complex. The solution is unlikely to be simple….

  88. Just a swift stopping by…

    Donno sir what in technology (other than Alfred Nobel’s dynamite) shatters earth, but I can produce an enormously loooooong list of IIT contributions to technology, and that would be a most redundant feat given what the IIT-ians (like talented tech. grads worldwide are *supposed* to do). If you would care to believe me, I can spare myself this redundant ardour. May be, I’ll give you one quick peek into the list that had a personal side for me.

    In circa 2002 AD, in a field of my research interest, my earth (and particularly that of my Turing Award winning advisor) was *undoubtedly* shattered when some young, brave and hitherto fairly unknown IIT-Kosmonauts discovered the enigmatic *Primes* species in planet *P* (a tour – http://www.ams.org/notices/200305/fea-bornemann.pdf).

    “It’s the best result I’ve heard in over ten years,” exclaimed Shafi Goldwasser, one of my favourite researchers in MIT. [Bender and I had planned to attend Agarwal’s talk there, Arnab, but I was absent 😦 though Bender made it :(( ] My former advisor’s “algorithm,” the best around before the IITians struck, was so non-trivial, that I guarantee you that for all of us, from giants to a lilliput like myself, the IITian feat was earth-shattering indeed.

    Several reasons can account for why achievements in tech – naturally technical – and often out of purview of the Nobel prizes – may not attract glamour. But the merIIT involved here is, beyond doubt, of the first order. I have my criticism of the narrowness of IIT curricula (as compared to, say, Harvard’s) and its effect on the grooming of future visionary leaders (not of entrepreneurial or managerial variety, but political/cultural/ humanities type (e.g., ala Harvard)), but that’s perhaps not the issue here.

    For now, let’s give the devil its due.

    (Personally, I do believe that IIT’s best collective contributions are largely nationalistic (thus symbolic) – its effects as a role model of indigenous excellence, its international brand equity serving as a testimony to efficient running of a quality scientific institution in a “3rd world” democracy. But that adds credit to, and hardly subtracts from, the great job by the IITians. Very wise of Arnab to generalize from an exculsive IIT brand in terms of this great job. Disclaimer: I’m no IITian, not even an engineer for that matter, just a humble tinybong.)

  89. Dodo,

    Yes I am biased. And it is because I had enough of people treating Indian languages with contempt.

    I do know enough of Indian education medium.
    My point is simply that granted English is required, as far as technical field is concerned one doesn’t need to read milton or speak in oxford accent. Hell, I do not even care when someone doesn’t follow grammar. These things are more or less immaterial as long as it is not interpersonal communication in technical field.

    And no, it is very difficult (if not outright impossible) for someone coming from background of vernacular medium to pick up english for the simple reason that English is not phonetic language in contrast to most of the Indian languages and hence requires lots of cramming.

    Regards

  90. Why OBC reservation is unfair to OBCs in IIMs!

    A lot has been said for and against reservations – but OBC reservation in IIMs will in a strange way be unfair for OBCs themselves.

    All IIMs have relative grading and a certain percentage of students are given a low or fail grade in every course – for example in one IIM the number of A grades in every course is restricted to 25% and A B grades restriced to 70%. Thus 30% of the class has to get a C grade or below and usually about 5% of this set gets a D grade (fail grade).

    At present with 15% reservations for SC’s and 7.5% reservation for ST’s and 3% reservation for physically disadvantaged – all adding up to 25.5% reservations – quite a few of those who get low or fail grades in every course in the IIMs currently are probably those who have come through reservations. Ofcourse not all reserved category students are of poor quality – about half of them actually do very well in the IIMs and get top jobs – but quite a few (say 10% of the batch) are there only because they had reservations.

    About 5% of the class in an IIM is asked to leave after flunking the first year and usually all of these are reservation students. This reservation is actually good for the general category student in IIMs once they do get into an IIM – in the absence of reservations and in the absence of poorer quality students in the class, the relative grading system would have compelled the worst performers in the general category students to get low or fail grades that are now going primarily to the reserved category students. Thus rarely is a general category student seen to fluck at any IIMs – not only because he/she is good but also because he/she is protected from low grades because of the 10% of the class consisting of reserved category students who are considerably worse than them.

    While the competition is SC/ST/PC categories is less due to the low number of such applicants, that may not hold for OBC applicants. With OBC reservations two scenarios may unfold :

    (A) If the OBC applications are fewer (low competition) at the IIMs then with an additional 27% reservation for OBCs we will probably get from among them another 10% poor quality candidates to add to the existing 10% poor quality SC/ST/PC candidates. With 20% poor quality candidates in the class the relative grading will ensure that only those candidates get low or fail grades in every course and general category candidates as well as the best of the SC/ST/PC/OBC candidates will have a low chance of flunking any course. So in this scenario, if you do get into an IIM without reservation or if you are a high quality reserved category candidate – the high reservations of 52.5% overall will ensure that you have almost no chance of getting a low or fail grade in any course.

    (b) If the OBC applications are large at the IIMs then OBC candidates will have a tough time trying to get in. If a large number of good OBC candidates apply under OBC reservation quota, they will be put through a separate selection process and will get restricted to the 27% quota. Then competition in OBC will be higher than in general category and may result in good OBCs getting unfairly excluded.

    In either scenario the general category candidate who actually gets in an IIM has a better deal than the OBC candidate. The problem is of someone who can’t get in – in the second scenario the chances of the average general category candidate getting in is better than that of the OBC candidate!

  91. Hi All,

    Just to getaway from this onesided show, I will just present the views of this blog. I know am moving away from the issue, but the point is here one satish tells us he paid lakhs to get admission and the defenders of merit has nothing to say. Are you guys mean a wealthy but poor studen can become a good doctor, than a poor student with identical merit?
    http://churumuri.wordpress.com/2006/05/23/arundhati-roy-india-is-not-a-democracy/

    Do read why we need to listen opposite views also :

    6) Because our newspapers and magazines and TV channels who have bought into the ‘India Shining’ story do not give views like these any play, even if she is wrong.

    5) Because she is probably the world’s most sought-after speaker, if not certainly the most sought-after woman speaker, even if she is wrong.

    4) Because she has something interesting and provocative to say, even if it is unpalatable to ears trained to receive pseudo-nationalism and good news, even if she is wrong.

    3) Because good journalism is not journalism that reassures us that the sun rose in the east this morning and that is well with the world but journalism that wrestles with our firmly held thoughts and beliefs, even if she is wrong.

    2) Because she articulates her thoughts better than most of our “intellectuals”, because her voice carries weight, even if she is wrong.

    1) Because we need to learn that ours are not the only right views and that there may be several more compelling ones on the opposite side, even if she is wrong.

  92. Arundhati Roy may be articulate, sought after and all other things – but in the end she is too provocative, can’t stand an argument and is generally one of tohse “bleeding heart” type who make their living trashing India.
    India is not a democracy….based on what?? She says 80000 ppl died in Kashmir but did not reveal how many of them were our jawans.
    She says that most states are undergoing a civil war. But she does not reveal how many of them are being “externally influenced”.
    She talks trash about India. Her arguments against nuclear weapons is “nuclear winter, destruction, nuclear winter, destruction” but she never raises her voice against assholes like A Q Khan and his tribe because of whom India has to stock those nukes. She does not talk about the backfoot India would be on if it disarms while we have a nuclear China and Pakistan and when there is a constant threat of those jihadis acquiring one.
    It is easy to trash someone when the other person is civilized. She royally trashes USA and India because for all its faults, USA is a democracy which believes in free speech even when they come out of a nutcase. Does she have the balls to talk about China, Pakistan and Iran.
    In the end assholes like Roy are armchair critics who just know how to blabber away.

  93. Oh! You poor north Indians, you will never understand Tamilnadu – the reservation king.

    Some facts:

    1. Unlike other states Tamilnadu does not exclude the creamy layer. Yes, tamilians have never heard of something called a ‘non-creamy layer certificate’. OBCs in AP, KA, KL have to run from pillar to post to get this certificate. In TN, the same groups are cornering the benefits year after year. Many prominent OBC doctors are into their fourth generation of medicine. Now, this is being trumpeted in the media as a “success of reservation”. If social justice was the reason for the quota, then should’nt the creamy layer be excluded. All political parties in TN oppose the creamy layer. The reason is that most members of these political parties are from a handful of powerful communities who treat quotas as a birthright – not as a tool of social justice. To add to the confusion, some hardline anti-hindu/anti-brahmins like DMK/DK view the quota system as a means to keep one community out, not as a means of social justice.

    2. Two or three dominant OBC components, totally dominate the landscape. These communities are classifed as forward all over India, except in TN. For example, if you reclassified Mudaliars, Pillais, and Gounders, as forward castes (which they actually are and they will be the first to admit it), Tamilnadu today will be burning with anti-reservation protests.

    3. In TN it is very rare for the really needy to benefit from the quota system. It is so rare that a poor OBC makes the quota that we have newspaper headlines and TV news coverage for that. You can pick up any Tamil newspaper for the past week and you will find just a couple of stories of a hotel workers son getting 80% marks or a lorry drivers son getting 85% marks. Isnt this supposed to be the normal case ? If it is so rare to be in the headlines – then who are actually cornering the OBC seats ? The real tragedy is that the above mentioned lorry drivers son and hotel servers son have got marks that will NEVER get them into any college in the OBC quota. They will be steamrollerd by the OBC kids who attend the top schools, have excellent financial resources, have no past history of social oppression, and who come from well edcated families. Now, you get a better idea of the “success of quotas in TN”.

    4. Tamil politicias are scared, really scared of any objective social study into the effects of quotas. Ths will be extremely uncomfortable for them. Think about it, the entire medical strike is about a demand for a judicial review into the effects of the quota system. If the UPA government constitutes a review committee at 10AM – the strike is over at 10:10AM. Everyone can then get back to their routines at 10:15AM. Most north Indians and south Indians other than TN – acccept that the demand for a review is a just one. So, what is holding the government back ? Think about it , think about the TN ministers who are the most active in the current debate (PC, Anbumani, D.Raja, Jayanthi Natarajan, MK, Ramadoss)!

    The investment climates of various states and even merit is a tangential argument that has nothing to do with the central theme. The central theme is are the beneficiaries of the quota system really the target groups. The central theme is the need for facts and a scientific analysis of the current system.

  94. GB – The reason for the differential level of protests is not difficult to see:

    1) Engineering, MBA and medical courses in most states (such as Maharashtra) already had 50% reservations. The novelty factor is in reservations in central univs (including DU), IITs, IIMs and central post grad medical colleges. Which is why protests started in Delhi and have been lukewarm elsewhere
    2) Medical students (doing their MBBS) still need to get into post graduate institutes to do MD level courses – so they are still affected by reservations. Hence the focus on reservations in post graduate colleges and the suggestions that a person should be allowed to use reservations only at one level in his life. Engineering students usually don’t care for post graduate courses in India – once you are in engineering (esp. IITs), reservations do not matter any more.
    3) IITians (and other engineers) who want to do an MBA in the IIMs would be impacted – but an IIM MBA is only one option. If an IITian does not get into IIM, he can go abroad (which is even today the preferred option), take up a great job, or do an MBA after working for a few years either abroad or at ISB.
    4) You surely don’t expect school kids whose chances of getting into IITs will be hit to be on the streets, do you? They will be cramming even harder than ever to get into the few residual seats in IITs
    5) As for IIM grads – come on! They have (at least as long as the global bull market continues) made it in life. If India sinks, too bad – they can go to Hongkong or Singapore or NY. Like me, the max they will do is crib on their blogs.

  95. Why OBC reservation is unfair to OBCs in IIMs – Part 2

    OBC reservations will also generate the same type of discrimination among IIM recruiters that currently exists for SC/ST. The worst affected are those whose SC/ST status is clear from the name itself. You can bet that if Baichung Bhutia was in any IIM he would not have been shortlisted by any of the top companies – they would have dustbined his resume only by looking at his clearly ST name – it does not matter that he is a top sportsperson or that he may have actually done well in academics at that IIM – they won’t even read his resume!

    This sort of discrimination is bound to happen once OBC reservations start. If in the past a Yadav who got through general quota would have been given due consideration if he performed well at an IIM, with OBC reservation that Yadav has no chance – his resume will find itself in the recruiter’s dustbin – atleast among the top recruiters who will shun all reserved candidates.

    Thus the top jobs are bound to be more elusive for the OBCs in the IIMs after OBC reservations than it was before OBC reservations. No wonder the reservationists was job reservations also for OBCs. In the IIMs even though students don’t put their caste in their resume, some public sector companies ask for it specifically as they can fill their job quota by recruiting SC/ST candidates. They will soon extend that to OBCs. No doubt they are happy to do so as they get better candidates in IIMs than they can hope to get in the open market – afterall this candidate has survived the IIM program. But the OBCs will be stuck with the least preferred jobs.

  96. >>>
    but the point is here one satish tells us he paid lakhs to get admission and the defenders of merit has nothing to say. Are you guys mean a wealthy but poor studen can become a good doctor, than a poor student with identical merit?

    =====

    @ zufliquar, The Dumb,

    What I meant is THIS —
    I scored 82 % in my 12th science. I wanted to do engg in a particular branch only. I was getting admission into other branches of engg in good colleges without any payment. But reserved candidates scoring 50% were getting admissions into that branch, while I wasnt. I wasnt willing to compromise on my branch, and had to take that route. Do you understand now ?? . Yeah definitely, a person scoring better and paying for admission will turn out better than a person scoring much lower and not paying.. The fact that I was spending more on my education actually made me take it much more seriously, as also the fact that I tried harder than the 50% guy to get a 80 score. If you are gifted 10,000 rupees, you wont bother much about how you spend it. But if you have worked hard to get Rs 10000 , you will not waste it.

    Please READ AGAIN, zulifquar, to fully understand.

    WTH… you twist my words and force another point of view, using what I had written. First understand what I am saying, then comment on it.

    By the way, you provide some nice entertainment here.

  97. Perhaps I can weigh in with my two pice?
    The whole reservation brouhaha is intended to take eyeballs away from the biggest failure of all Indian governments, ever: the abysmal state of the school system. The lack of decent free/subsidised schooling in all geographic areas of the country is the prime reason why underprivileged groups do not make it into higher education. Reservation quotas are intended to cover up that failure by giving admission to these groups regardless of their lack of schooling, which is the government’s fault. Who suffers? those stigmatised by the quotas, the institutions themselves, and the public who are saddled with the services of devalued and demoralised professionals. Why isn’t Arjun Singh crying tears of blood over primary education? Without good schooling no amount of boosterism is going to save Indian minds from going down the toilet. The point about reserved students floundering once they actually get in is well made: I’ve seen it happen in an IIT. I’ve spent much energy and time over giving them additional coaching to remedy as far as possible their problems, but I knew I was vainly trying to substitute for the sound school foundation they had been cheated of. In many cases, they were first class minds. The lucky ones had been to missionary schools (like St Xaviers Ranchi) and could have given any general candidate a run for their money, but the stigma that hung over them negated all their achievements and lumped them with the erest who genuinely tried and failed, and the very small minority who couldn’t give a damn. This is scheduled reserved candidates I’m talking about. Interestingly, many of those in the general category who were most scathing about them were OBCs.
    I now teach in a university. In a month’s time, we will conduct a humungous admission test for the BA level entrance for English. This has become a yearly feature. Many, in spite of their brilliance, will not get in, because their English will be too poor. While this distresses us, we certainly won’t compromise in the selection procedure, because this is a higher degree in english literature, which cannot be undergone without a knowledge of the language. there’s nothing snobbish about it. The whole point of higher learning is that it must build on something that has gone before. Otherwise it’s a house of cards with no cards at the bottom.

  98. Arnab way, way earlier had alluded to a solution along the lines of subsidised coaching which I had figured was hard to outdo, but I see the previous comment from Erythrocyte (my wife, BTW, is hugely delighted) has touched upon an even more fundamental level of the malaise: one where THE solution lies: Basic Schooling.
    True, true, true, and even truer because the custodian of the higher educational system speaks about it even more convincingly than the journeyman who passes through it, like I and countless others have done. The begining of the intellectual crippling is at the outset of the educational process, and rent seekers are out in force (my previous comments), witness the ‘competitive’ scramble to get kids admitted to the correct kindergarten.
    Overt and unfair segregation is etched in stone at the outset of the educational socialization process, and any amount of sops down the road won’t remedy it. And if you read my earlier comments, I have been at pains to share with all that the system is fundamentally designed in almost classic counteroptimal fashion to guarantee rent seeking and moral hazard. Someone someday could probably write a “Birth of the Institute” or “Discipline and Intellectually Diminish” looking at the state of our educational system.
    We have to shift the policy axis from the higher to the fundamental education level, to move from an inbuilt exclusionary bias to an inclusive nurturing bias, where the concept of such ridiculous reservationism will not even find place in the playground. That’s the real debate that is necessary and ideas have to be thrown in to remedy it.
    The system is dysfunctional, culturally biased, policy driven, out of date and out of sync, emigration friendly and simply unreal: a cross between the Mandarinate of Ancient China and the Ecole Superieur of modern France.
    I salute our IITans and engineering grads. Most of them chose this because they were smart, not because they were driven by a passion to become engineers at all.
    Note how many of them have still gone on to make earth shattering scientific/technological/intellectual discoveries. Many of them chose this route suppressing their true intellectual desires, in fact at complete variance with it. I knew a guy, for instance, who came out of an IIT and went on to write a landmark dissertation on public policy, another who wrote a dissertation on Critical Theory, and yet another engineer (non-IIT) who went on after a Chemical engineering stint at Georgia State to become Nagesh Kukunoor. Guys, our smart countrymen are just starved for avenues to develop their talent.
    This unhappy situation, IMHO, is because of our top-down, biased and exclusionary system. Arnab, your post on academia is sorely needed — how are we to go to a true meritocracy? How are we to accomodate real merit? How are we to identify it? And to nurture it?! (But after the one on Sourav)
    Regards

  99. I think we should have job reservations in all the fields. I completely support the PM and all the politicians for promoting this. Let’s start the reservation with our cricket team. We should have 30 percent for OBC,SC/ST like that. Cricket rules should be modified accordingly. The boundary circle should be reduced for an SC/ST player. The four hit by an OBC player should be considered as a six and a six hit by a OBC player should be counted as 8 runs. An OBC player scoring 60 runs should be declared as a century.

    We should influence ICC and make rules so that the pace bowlers like Shoaib Akhtar should not bowl fast balls to our OBC player. Bowlers should bowl maximum speed of 80 kilometer per hour to an OBC player. Any delivery above this speed should be made illegal and bowler should be banned for next 3 matches.

    Also we should have reservation in Olympics. In the 100 meters race, an OBC player should be given a gold medal if he runs 80 meters. There can be reservation in Government jobs also. Let’s recruit SC/ST and OBC pilots for aircrafts which are carrying the ministers and politicians (that can really help the country.. )Ensure that
    only SC/ST and OBC doctors do the operations for the ministers and other politicians. (Another way of saving the country..)Let’s be creative and think of ways and means to guide INDIA forward… Let’s show the world that INDIA is a GREAT country. Let’s be proud of being an INDIAN..

    May the good breed of politicans like ARJUN SINGH long live.

  100. The few of her pearls of wisdom could be summarized as follows
    1. I didnot study or do anything worthwhile in my college days, hence I am sure noone else did.
    2. Exams in literature and humanities did not assess anybody correctly and therefore I sure it is true of exams in all fields including the much hyped IIT-JEE
    3. “Our exams often generate and encourage stupidity and push forward the least talented of the lot. I am not an IIT student, and will not pretend to know much about the CAT since I didn’t crack it, but it is rather interesting that almost none of our wonderful IIT-ians (for whom such pitted battled are being fought) have made any earth-shattering discoveries or inventions.” sic

    A very inspired set of ideas may we say. Just one thing. What is true for a upper caste person would be equally true for a backward caste person. I.e. a person from the backward caste who can crack IIT JEE is the least talented among his community and should be kept out of the IITs. instead IITs and elite educational institutions should offer their seats to backward caste people who cannot pass these exams and just to be sure that he or she cannot pass JEE even after gaining admission into IIT, they must provide admissions to purely illiterate people.

    Umm… did I say a bit too much

  101. This essay/post by Annie Zaidi should be discounted as just a piece of flowery writing in English and not of logic or reasoned arguments. She is trying to emulate Arundhati Roy who, having earned acclaim as a writer, also tried to use those writing skills to appear as a ‘citizen of the world’, trying to spew stupid opinions on controversial/fashionable subjects. Unfortunately, Annie does’nt have the literary acclaim or the logic to back up her writing. The writing on a controversial topic earned her her brief 15 seconds of fame with even GB referring to her essay – she must be gloating…who cares about logic??

    A wannabe writer trying to also act as an opinion leader….unfortunately Annie, your opinion is flawed…most of the times. Stick to your poems on monsoon or love.

  102. Here’s the text of my comment on Miss Zaidi’s post.

    ———————————————————————————

    Ah….

    another case of a humanities (cough) scholar (cough) jealous of IITians…

    Let’s see…

    The merit evaluation system in schools and colleges is flawed.

    Therefore:

    Let’s undermine the few remaining institutions where merit is accurately assessed.

    Brilliant!
    ____________________________________________________________________

    “Why do you think I was trying so hard for a first division? Because that would entitle me to admissions in better, more prestigious universities, where I had a real chance of a real education, better teachers, and hopefully, a better career after that. That is why.”
    ____________________________________________________________________

    Annie, now pay attention. That is PRECISELY why IITs and IIMs have entrance tests. So that even a student whose papers weren’t marked correctly still has a chance. If he does well in the entrance exam, nobody gives a damn about his scores in the XII boards. Unlike, say, DU, where someone who scored 85% by cramming the course material and regurgitating it word for word can get into a top college.
    ____________________________________________________________________

    “But since some of us have benefitted from this catch-22, let others benefit as well.”
    ____________________________________________________________________

    Ah yes… two wrongs make a right, yes?

    Impeccable logic! Sparkling wisdom!

    Anyone can see you were (are?) a humanities student.

  103. Pingback: The Reservation Debate-Part 1 at Retributions

  104. Arnab in his reply to Abhishek’s comment here said; “What you mention is indeed a separate, no less important issue—the declining standards of grad/PhD programmes in Indian universities. The reason for that is simple: professors are not paid enough.”

    False! Salaries and incentives don’t usually drive a motivative researcher to do research. There are umpteen number of examples in India.

    I have had the misfortune of working for an IT project of Rajendra Memorial Research Institute of Medical Sciences, supposedly the leading research center in Kala-azar, in Patna. What I found there is that an obscene amount of money is spent on the top officials’ foreign tours and other worthless things. There is corruption from top to bottom of the hierarchy.

    The labs are in pathetic conditions. The only guys who seem to do some kind of serious work are the ones who look (appear) poorest of them all. This is reminiscent of almost all research institutes funded by the government.

    As of IIT-ians, I can bet that most of the top passouts are not any better than the toppers of other engineering colleges.

    Lastly, I would like to mention that we Indian’s have been good followers, but never good pioneers. We may be good coders, but not good programmers. We can make good software running for say Windows, but creating an OS like Windows is beyond the thinking capacity of most of our much feted IIT-ians.

  105. Being a product myself of the “faulty” Indian education system and then again being a part of the firangi(american) education system I think that we Indians have a utopic concept about research and education.
    The question if IITians are really talented or just hacks is a dumb question because the answer , if it is yes/no would be too much generalisation…… It is true that Indians are not the world leaders in many fundamental sciences…but it is not true that all the blame goes to IITians I think we should blame our social structure our understanding of contemporary research the dismal attitude of our society towards research in general( a TIFR grad student earns 1200/- whereas a low level software job pays 20000-25000/- )
    Moreover we must understand that “major breakthroughs” are seldom (never) results of depraved geniuses working in their attics but are the products of live conglomerets of interactive professionals.
    Finally I will like to remark that perhaps we shouldn’t blame the IITs for not producing great researchers but try to make more facilities so that more and more of the eligible Indian population gets better training……..there is no point in complaining …when there is so much work to do …..complaining is so easier though:)

  106. Agree with your point of view about the reservations. And I am sure with the increase in reservations, the tech talent quality quantity ratio in India will suffer a loss. But I was wondering about these sentences:

    “And with IBM, Microsoft, Google, GM, GE and many other powerhouses opening research divisions in India, the market has spoken. Loud and clear.”

    Now as I understand it, you mean that the above mentioned companies have opened divisions, may be research divisions, because of the talent that they find in India. Thats so not true. The primary reason for all these companies (I am keeping Microsoft and Google out of this group) to open up offices in India is due to cheaper per hour labor that they get. We all know that Indian (software) companies were on a hiring spree since last 4-5 years where they recruited people who knew nothing about software development. And forget about the talent which they see in these guys before hiring them, they would have hired dogs for the cheap prices they get here and the billions of dollars worth of projects that were being outsourced. The crores of rupees worth of software exports from India is attributed to the cheap prices, it has nothing to do with talent.

  107. IIT’S are extremely over rated. I know engineers’ who cracked the IIT entrance test but did not take up studies at the IIT. They have done exceptionally well in life. IIt is not even closer in terms of its achievements to MIT or Oxford. How many Noble Prize winners can you count from IIt? none. It makes no sense discussing about an institution which is heavily funded by the government and other Engineering institutions are treated like a sick child.

  108. why do we always feel that IITs are only about undergraduates (JEE entrants)only? IIT has a considerable portion of post graduate population. IIT is heavily funded because though few but in some fields atleast cutting edge researches are going on.

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