Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Backwardpeople

'OBCs outscore general merit student

BANGALORE: The great OBC myth has been busted. The biggest concern of
the anti-reservation activists that introduction of castebased
reservations in higher education institutes would deteriorate the
quality of education has been debunked.

The final report of the Oversight Committee headed by M Veerappa Moily
to be submitted to PM Manmohan Singh will be backed by strong case
studies from southern states, including Karnataka, to establish how
OBC students have been consistently outscoring general category and
SC/ST students.

Sample this study on the performance of OBC students in Karnataka's
engineering colleges. The study pertained to the admission and
performance of four batches of students in Visvesvaraya Technological
University between 1998-2002 and 2001-2005.

While OBC students have a pass percentage of 93.01 to 97.4, general
merit students recorded just 66.09 to 94.77 from the 1998-2000 batch
to 2001-2005 batch.

The percentage of first class with distinction among OBC students was
between 37.7 and 42.38,while among SC/ST students it was between 9.32
and 11.90 in the same period.

An exclusive study by Bangalore University former vice-chancellor N R
Shetty at the behest of the Oversight Committee has concluded that
there has been no reduction or loss of performance due to introduction
of OBC candidates.

The study has only proved that given a chance, the so-called Backward
Classes can also perform. "In fact, OBC students have done better than
general category and SC/ST students. With the increasing
representation for the backward classes their performance may be
expected to improve," Shetty told The Times of India.

The study shows engineering colleges have been able to fill up the OBC
quota more easily than the SC/ST category. Against 32% reservation for
OBC students in Karnataka, the enrolment has been in the range of
21.17% to 29.69%, while intake of SC/ST students has been a paltry
5.35% to 6.66% against the recommended 18%.

"We don't want to stop just with engineering students. Shortly we will
study the performance of OBC students in medical and dental courses as
well. The aspect of excellence in terms of ranks in the Common
Entrance Test obtained by the OBC students will be explored," Shetty
added.

Moily committee has commissioned similar studies in Andhra Pradesh,
Tamil Nadu and Kerala, which have been implementing reservation
policies favouring OBCs.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

No review of OBC reservation, says Moily panel member

NEW DELHI, SEPT 28: Fissures within the oversight committee on quota
appear to have cropped up with a senior panel member questioning
chairman Veerappa Moily's assertion that the committee had recommended
a periodic review of the quota policy.
Planning Commission member BL Mungekar, senior member of the quota
panel, on Thursday maintained that the panel had only recommended a
review of the implementation, not the policy itself.


Briefing newspersons after an eight-hour long final meeting of the
committee on Wednesday, Moily had said they have recommended the
government review the quota policy every five to ten years.

Correcting Moily's assertions, Mungekar on Thursday told FE the
committee had only recommended a yearly review of the implementation.
"Media reports that we recommended a review of the policy are
incorrect. We want the government to make sure that institutions
implement the quota as per directions," Mungekar said.

The panel, significantly, has decided not to make any mention of
creamy layer as demanded by some parties. Tamil parties such as DMK
and PMK were against including the creamy layer criterion in the quota
structure. The PMK had even issued a "fatwa" against Moily entering
Tamil Nadu, if he dissallowed rich OBCs from getting reservation
benefits.

"Creamy layer was never under the purview of our committee. The panel
unanimously decided not mention it. Reports that I objected are
wrong," Mungekar said.

Mungekar, refuting reports that he had questioned giving autonomy to
higher education institutions, said "We cannot avoid introducing
changes with respect to autonomy in the higher education sector. The
issue, however, should be first discussed and debated," Mungekar told
FE.

To buttress his argument, he said that during his term as vice
chancellor of Mumbai University he had granted autonomy to two premier
institutes. "I favour giving autonomy to these institutes," he said.

Mungekar added that there was a consensus that issues not part of the
committee's terms of reference should be avoided. "We did not suggest
a view on creamy layer and quota in private educational institutes."

Saturday, September 09, 2006

37 killed as 3 blasts rock Malegaon

A crime against humanity, the terrorists have killed innocent people and this is shameful act.

CNN-IBN

GRIM TASK: An elderly man searches for the body of his relative among the bodies of people killed.
New Delhi/ Mumbai/ Nashik: At least 37 people were killed and 56 were seriously injured when three bombs concealed on cycles went off near a mosque in Maharashtra’s Malegaon town when people were coming out after Friday afternoon prayers.
The blasts occurred near the Hamidia Mosque in the Bada Kabristan area of the communally sensitive town just after Friday prayers.

Thousands of people were out on the streets on Friday for Shab-e-Barat, a festival during which people offer prayers to dead relatives.
The first blast occurred at 1345 hours IST and two more explosions follow in two minutes. Police suspect a timer device could have been used to trigger off the explosions.
A curfew was imposed in the textile town after the blasts.
Maharashtra Police sounded a statewide alert and had mobile networks jammed in the town to prevent rumours.
"The situation in Malegaon is tense but under control," said Maharashtra Director General of Police P S Pasricha. ''The motive appears to be to create panic and make people fight with each other,” he said.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Reservation buttresses social justice: Expert

MADURAI: Reservation is not an isolated issue and it should been seen
against the backdrop of the larger plan of imparting social justice,
said P S Krishnan, former member secretary of National Backward
Classes Commission and National SC/ST Commission. He was delivering
the inaugural address at a seminar on reservation organised by the
Doctors' Forum for the People here, on Sunday.

"Reservation is only one of the means to attain social justice. So the
question, 'what has Tamil Nadu achieved from its reservation policy?'
does not hold water," he asserted. Elaborating on the need to continue
with reservation policy, Krishnan said, though social inequality is
prevailing in many countries across the world, India's case attracts
special mention because of caste-based segregation pursued in the
nation.

The oppressed people, he said, are also there among the upper castes,
but their number is comparatively very small. Reeling out statistics,
he pointed out that the reservation is a much needed measure in the
state while taking the national average on several criteria including
agricultural labourers in rural area and casual labourers in urban
area.

He also insisted for reservation in private sector as many of the new
employment opportunities are emerging there and not in the public
sector as was the case earlier. He also suggested that the term
'creamy layer' is deceptive and the better alternative is 'socially
advanced persons/section'.

Speaking on the occasion, CMD of Tamilnadu Urban Finance and
Infrastructure Development Corporation, Christhudoss Gandhi, said that
though Tamil Nadu is the forerunner in the reservation issue, there
are around 300 schools in the state that have no single SC/ST student
in their roll.

"Chennai alone has 150 such schools and if this is the situation in
Tamil Nadu, what would be the situation in other states," he wondered.

CPI(M) Polit Bureau member Varadharajan asserted that reservation
issue should not be viewed on caste basis and urged the oppressed
classes including SC, ST and OBC to lead a combined fight.

The seminar dealt with several topics related to reservation including
'Women and Reservation', 'Dravidian Movement and Reservation', 'Law
and Reservation' and 'Cultural Aspects to Reservation'.

The seminar was attended by ex-MLC and former principal of Mannar
Thirumalai Naickar College B Parthasarathy, general secretary of
Periyar Dravida Kazhagam Viduthalai Rajendran and head of the
Sociology department at MKU L Dharabhai.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Making right an obligation

Making right an obligation

SANJAY PULIPAKA

Given an appropriate space, every student has a distinct possibility
of becoming a `meritorious student'


IN THE recent past, the Centre's decision to implement reservation for
Other Backward Castes (OBCs) in various institutes of `excellence'
prompted many to reflect on the necessity of having reservation to
address the problems associated with caste discrimination. Some
scholars have pointed out that reservation has become the only
paradigm of social justice in India. And they have argued that such
one-dimensional approach to social justice might in the long run
hamper the cause of social justice.
However, the question we need to ask is how come one-dimensional
approach dominates the discourse on social justice in India? Is the
political class solely responsible for this? If the politicians are
able to determine and define the discourse on social justice for their
partisan political ends, it is precisely because the space was vacated
by other segments of society. The failure in implementing multiple
approaches to ensure social equality was largely a consequence of
indifference displayed by the privileged towards the prevailing
inequalities and discrimination in society. Let me illustrate this
with an example.

Support centre

Currently, I am studying at the Center for Justice and Peacebuilding,
Eastern Mennonite University, in the U.S. Many students with diverse
backgrounds come to the university to pursue their degrees. Given
their diverse backgrounds there is disparity in the communication
skills of the students. Instead of indulging in deprecatory statements
about the alleged low standards of in-coming students, the university
runs an academic support centre where the students are provided with
various services such as proof-reading and editing of their
term-papers.
Students visiting the academic support centre tend to build healthy
relationships with the professionals providing such services, and over
a span of time their communication skills tend to register a
remarkable improvement. All the students have access to employment
counsellors who help them in drafting their resumes apart from
providing employment counselling.
Persistent efforts are made to make the classroom space democratic.
The faculty and the students sit in a circle in the classroom to
negate the notion of hierarchy. Acknowledging the fact that there are
multiple levels of intelligence, students are given the option to
submit their assignments by using various methods such as role-plays
and other audio-visual mediums. All these measures are based on the
premise that given an appropriate space every student has a distinct
possibility of becoming a `meritorious student.'
This prompts me to raise a few important questions. How many
universities in India can claim that they are running academic support
centres that foster `excellence' among all students? How many
universities have made sincere efforts to make their classroom space
more democratic? Does all this require constitutional amendments by
Parliament? Can't a group of professionals committed to "fostering
merit" ensure that such changes are ushered in?
Language improvement sessions, employment counselling, and diverse
evaluation procedures might appear mundane for some. But such small
measures go a long way in building camaraderie among the members of
the campus community. And more importantly such an approach recognises
that merit is a consequence of interplay of social factors and has
many forms.

Greater malaise

The absence of such mechanisms in many Indian universities is
symptomatic of a greater malaise afflicting Indian society — a
persistent reluctance to think innovatively to address the problems
associated with social inequality and discrimination. There is very
little desire to foster merit in our institutions. The word `merit' is
thrown around flippantly only when there is a move to ensure
legitimate representation of disadvantaged sections.
I am not singing paeans of an American university. Rather, I am only
pointing out that there are various ways by which social equality can
be ensured and if there is yearning in society, even we can come up
with our own approaches/mechanisms for ensuring social equality. In
this context it is pertinent to note that many international
educational foundations in India, supported by big businesses from
outside, are making conscious efforts to ensure that the socially
disadvantaged are adequately represented in the fellowships they are
offering.
The anti-reservationists apart from their "nay-saying" do not have a
clearly defined agenda for a positive social change. Given the apathy
towards social inequality and discrimination, giving up reservation
would be the last thing to do. We should move away from this
"nay-saying" and explore the various measures that we need to take,
along with reservation, for ushering in social equality at a rapid
pace.

(The writer is a Fulbright Fellow in Conflict Transformation
Programme, Eastern Mennonite University. He can be reached at
pulipaka.sanjay@...)

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Does the Irani panel report mean affirmative action by the private

It's a deliberate move to prevent legislation

Udit Raj

Point 7 of the CII-Assocham Action Plan under the title 'Preamble'
says "Private sector industry is against any legislation that would
compromise the sanctity of its non-negotiable freedom of choice in
employment." Do we need more to question the timing, intention and
mindset of this Action Plan brought out by our big businesses? There
was tremendous pressure on Indian industry from the government,
political parties, civil society and the public after it was seen that
all along, industry has shirked its social responsibility. The Action
Plan is a deliberate move to pre-empt the intended legislation
proposed by none other than the ruling regime.

The Action Plan, under the title 'Entrepreneurship Development', says
"Larger companies to mentor and create at least one entrepreneur from
Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes a year. To begin with 100
entrepreneurs will be created in the first year." But, how they will
do it is not explained when the entrepreneurial base of deprived
communities is missing. Dalit businessmen will have to be created from
scratch and this will take years. What industry can do instead is to
start employing SCs and STs who, at present, find its doors shut to
them.

Moreover, there are over five lakh inter-racial marriages in the US
whereas Indian business communities marry within themselves. Only if
they start marrying in Dalit communities will we see Dalit
entrepreneurs and not by merely drawing up Action Plans.

JJ Irani's report may be trying to show that affirmative action, as is
practiced in the US, is being pursued. But the situation there is
different; the mindset and motives there are exemplary. IBM provided
reservations to African-Americans way back in 1930. In the US, they
bear the social responsibility for bringing ethnic minorities like the
Hispanics, African-Americans, into the mainstream out of their love
for an inclusive society. For they believe that a nation within a
nation and a society within a society can't work for the happiness of
all. Their charities are unparallelled and unprecedented. Take, for
instance, the recent donation by Warren Buffett. Or the fact that a
white American industrialist founded the Mississippi Medical College
for African-Americans.

In 2003, an African-American student got admission into the Law School of

Michigan University. A white American student challenged this
'affirmative action' which denied him admission even though he had
secured more marks than the African-American student. The case was
heard in the Supreme Court and about 75 industrialists defended the
affirmative action. Please give me some examples on these lines in
India. Rather, there have been indications in newspapers that the
recent anti-reservation protests were funded by corporate money.

In India, R&D is done by public-funded government institutions. On the
other hand, in the US private business does all the research in
science and technology. The public funds the budget of the IITs, IIMs
and AIIMS which provide very subsidised education. But the alumni of
such institutions contribute to the profits of big businesses; this
fact is never recognised and appreciated by our industry. If it can
take the help of government-funded education to grow and reap profits,
then why does it shirk its social responsibility to be an equal
partner in a common destiny and pitch in with some help. If the
government were all-powerful and all- resourceful, the likes of JRD
Tata, Jamnalal Bajaj, Bill Gates and Warren Buffett would not be
needed.

In India, we have legislation providing for reservations for SCs and
STs in government jobs and educational institutions, yet it is not
properly implemented.

The DOPT and the UPSC have taken unreserved seats as 'reserved' for
the so-called upper castes. My belief is that the Action Plan is an
eyewash. But, if the private sector really means it, then we are game
for it. However, without any stringent laws in place I don't see any
obligation falling on industrialists.

—The writer is founder- president of the Indian Justice Party

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Moily Committe: For or against quota

The Moily Committee which has been formed to formulate a policy for the implementation of the quota scheme, appears to have been packed with the anti-quota quota people. Every pronouncment made by the committe whether it is regarding to quota in IIMs or R&D institution has been attached with a number of suffixes and prefixes.

The Moily committee with a subtle backing from some congress Ministers is bent upon diluting the constitutional amendment regarding the quotas to OBCs. Basically, the upper caste lobby which has been unable to stop the quota brigade in the parliament is now trying to do the same through the Supreme Court which is no doubt filled by meritorious judges but all belong to the upper castes.
Somewhere down the line the caste becomes too strong a connection for any Indian to get beyond or above it, while making an important decision.
In addition, the upper caste media primarily led by Indian Express is hellbent on proving that there is a major rift in the government ranks on this issue and Congress is a house divided on implementing quota.
Even today, while no other newspaper has reported regarding any differences in the Indian government regarding quota, Indian Express has given this story the lead space.

Elite institutions will determine their own threshold: committee

Anita Joshua

Admissions must be decided by the institutions




Cut-off for OBCs to be somewhere midway between those for SC/STs
Preparatory courses suggested to bring OBC candidates on a par with
fellow students


NEW DELHI: Merit will not necessarily become a casualty once the
Government's reservation policy for Other Backward Classes (OBCs) is
in place; at least not in top-of-the-line institutions such as the
Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs), the Indian Institutes of
Technology (IITs), the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) and the
All-India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS).

The Oversight Committee — entrusted with preparing a roadmap for
implementing 27 per cent reservation for OBCs in Central educational
institutions — says the threshold for admissions to these institutions
should be determined by themselves, as is done today, commensurate
with the level of its excellence.

In its interim report submitted to the Government last week, the
Committee justified this hands-off strategy vis-a-vis the admission
criteria as an acknowledgement of the fact that the IITs, IIMs, IISc
and AIIMS and other such "exceptional quality institutions" which have
established a global reputation can maintain that standard only if the
highest quality in both faculty and students is ensured.

Even in the case of the other Central educational institutions, the
Committee has suggested that cut-off for OBCs be placed somewhere
"midway between those for Scheduled Castes/Scheduled Tribes and the
unreserved category, carefully calibrated so that the principles of
both equity and excellence can be maintained." These recommendations
are based on inputs gathered by the five sub-committees from the
various Central educational institutions.

The sub-committee for management education institutions reported to
the Oversight Committee that the IIMs were very keen on their position
that "High standards and quality must be maintained and assured in the
whole process of expansion. There must be no unjustifiable demands on
the institutes to lower admission standards in order to accommodate
the enhanced intake." Also, the IIMs are clear that OBC reservation
should be confined to the post-graduate diploma and equivalent
programmes as is the case with SC/ST candidates.

Similarly, the sub-group for engineering institutions told the
Oversight Committee that admission criteria and cut-off "may be left
to the Joint Advisory Board of the IITs or the respective Board of
Governors." According to the sub-group, the cut-off figures should not
be lowered to fill the reserved seats. Like the management sub-group,
the engineering sub-group has suggested remedial preparatory courses
to bring OBC candidates on a competitive level with fellow students.

IITs, IISc seek Rs 5,520 cr to double seats

Sreelatha Menon / New Delhi August 03, 2006



The Indian Institute of Science (IISc) and the IITs will double their
student intake from 38,500 to 60,600 in five years at a cost of Rs
5,520 crore.

This is being done to comply with the annexures to the interim report
of the Veerappa Moily committee on reservation in higher education.

The report projects a total requirement of Rs 9,640 crore for all
technical educational institutions and seeks a three-year time frame
to implement the 54 per cent seat expansion.

The figure for IITs, IIMs, medical colleges and central and
agricultural universities put together touches Rs 16,000 crore. Except
medical colleges and agricultural universities, which will bring in
the changes in two years, all other institutes want a 3-5-year
time-frame.

The IITs and IISc have said their total approved intake for 2006-2007
was 12,813 which would increase by 7,390. But it is silent on the
exact number of additional students to be admitted next year.

However it gives a break up of the number of teachers who are to be
recruited over a period of five years. The estimated total additional
faculty requirement spread over five years is 3,200.

Similarly, in the case of the National Institutes of Technology (NIT),
the total cost requirement has been put at Rs 3,385 crore, with the
student intake to increase from the present 49,185 to 76,000 in five
years.

The report says 2,000 additional faculty members would be required
over the period. Other central government technical educational
institutions have asked for about Rs 735 crore and 500 additional
faculty members.

The report recommends relaxation of retirement of the faculty to 65
years, re-employing retired faculty up to 70 years, securing services
of ad hoc and visiting faculty, adopting large classrooms with
tutorial sections, utilising the services of senior research scholars
for assistance in teaching and tutorials, establishing virtual
classrooms and starting e-learning facilities .

IIMs: IIMs, on their part, have asked for Rs 611.46 crore spread over
four years to effect 54 per cent expansion in seats. They have also
asked for full freedom to fill faculty positions based on a teacher to
student ratio of 1:7. The interim report of the committee has
incorporated these demands in its recommendations.

Central universities: About Rs 2,000 crore has been demanded for 54
per cent expansion in seats in 17 central universities.

Medical colleges: The central medical colleges have asked for Rs
2,442.05 crore to implement expansion over two years. With the
expansion, seats in medical colleges will increase from the present
355 seats to 546. Post graduate seats will rise from 1,173 to 1,771.

Agricultural universities: The four colleges under the Central
Agricultural University, Imphal, and the IARI New Delhi, IVRI
Izatnagar, NDRI Karnal and CIFE Mumbai have projected expansion in
seats over a period of three years. The total fund requirement sought
is Rs 194.6 crore.

While Indian Agricultural Research Institute, New Delhi, has agreed to
increase 18 per cent seats in the first year for PG and PhD, 36 per
cent would be increased in the second year.

IVRI, Izatnagar, and NDRI, Karnal, have also made similar commitments.
The latter, however, is to increase 54 per cent seats at the
undergraduate level from next year itself.

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