Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Reservation for the unreserved ?

Read a telling article about reservations (affirmative action) in The Hindu today. Tamil Nadu has started the process admitting students to its 12 medical colleges by sending out call letters. Of the 1186 available seats under the single window system, 818 have been reserved for various backward communities and the rest 368 have been made available for open competition. A look at the call letter distribution reveals the remarkable progress made by the backward communities. By the time admissions are over, they would have garnered more than 85% of the seats available under 'open competition'. Less than 40 students from the so called fforward communities will get in to medical colleges this year in Tamil Nadu.

So, of the 1186 available seats, 1146 (96.6%) would go to the reserved communities and a mere 40 (3.4%) to the forward communities. In this scenario, Does reservation make any sense ? For whom ?

It would be a worthwhile attempt to further analyze as to who is really getting these coveted medical seats.
  • Is it the deserving backward class kids or the creamy layer of the society ? What's the family income ? What's the educational level of the parents ? etc.,
  • Where do they come from ? (City / Rural)
  • Which school ? (Private / Public)
  • What's the gender ratio ? (Boy /Girl)

Here are my questions:
  1. Does India need reservations ? How long ? In what form ?
  2. Who should be eligible for it ?
IMO, Affirmative action/s are still required, but require major re-calibration.
  • Employ filters: Proper filtering mechanisms should be instituted such that only the deserving get the benefits. For starters, I do not consider Dr. Ramadass / Dr. Anbumani Ramadass et. al as backward even though they might officially belong to a backward community. (MGR tried instituting financial criteria but failed)
  • Catch them early: Concerted efforts should be made to nurture deserving kids from the early stages of schooling. Efforts should be made to get them into private schools through grants and scholarships. This will prepare them for competition later.
  • Spread the wealth: In the current scenario, the creamy layer repeatedly garners benefits multiple times for generations. By limiting availment, benefits will reach the deserving in a much broader scale.