Earlier in Forum






Q: Should admissions to specialised courses be on
the basis of caste or merit?

This is the third instalment of readers’ response

Adopt more pragmatic approach

The HRD Ministry’s move to reserve 27 per cent seats for OBCs in specialised courses is more or less like an albatross in India’s strive for development. The move has already generated a lot of heat amongst the citizens. Many students’ councils have taken to the streets and have strongly protested against the move. Various students’ organisations have petitioned to the higher authorities like the President and tried to convince them against the unjust decision.

Though the government asserts that the move aims at bringing the status of backward classes candidates at par with the general category candidates, it seems to be another vote-bank politics. The proposed reservation will reduce the number of general seats for various serious medical, engineering and other aspirants to a great extent.

Despite various reservations in the recent years, the poor have not benefited as much as expected. In such a case, providing reservations for backward classes may prove disastrous for those students who have seriously prepared for entrance exams to various renowned institutions.

The government should adopt a more pragmatic approach to the problem. It should ensure that the primary and secondary education of the poor is brought at par with that of the general category people.

— SACHET KAURA, Panchkula

What about quota in Parliament?

The move for caste-based 27 per cent reservation in IITs and IIMs shows a remarkable lack of foresight. If implemented, it will have terrible consequences, badly affecting the prestige of these premier institutes. Are we planning to compete with the best institutes of the world by pushing incompetent candidates for petty political gains? Shame on these so-called secular leaders who are demoralising the meritorious youth of the country. If they are so concerned, why don’t they have reservation in Parliament? Why don’t they reserve the posts of Prime Minister, Defense Minister, HRD Minister, etc.?

If at all any reservation is to be made, it should be based on the economic status of the student and not on his caste or creed. There are several meritorious students in the open category who cannot afford coaching for competitive examinations. On the other hand, the government provides free coaching for the reserved category students every year. A special stipend is also given for attending these classes.

There is no need to offer equal opportunity to all. A same set of question paper should be given to all students. Those who clear the test should be given admission. It is time to raise our voice against these so-called secular leaders who are playing with the future of our country.

— RAJESH SHARMA, Jalandhar Cantt

Do away with reservations

The on-going agitations by the students of medical colleges against the proposed reservation for the OBC/SC/ST in medical colleges and other premier institutions are highly justified. They should at last awaken the government to the dangers of reservation. If there is reservation for one minority community, then there is no stopping for other minority communities from asking for the same? In this case, the Brahmins, Kshatriya, etc., will not be unjustified to put in their bid for reservation! To any educated person, implementation of the recommendations of the Mandal Commission by former Prime Minister V.P. Singh was an act contrary to and violative of the Right to Equality enshrined in the Constitution. In fact, V.P. Singh should have been held accountable for the self-immolation by students in the Capital and other parts of the country. The recent political gimmick by Arjun Singh, who is himself tainted by the Churhat lottery scam, should be shot down by all those who do not wish to ruin the future of the deserving students and, therefore, of the country. A nationwide movement should be launched to completely do away with reservations in educational institutions and PSUs.

— Col ABHAY RISHI (retd), Manimajra

Set aside political interests

The proposal of admissions to the institutes of excellence, prestige and eminence like IIMs and IITs on caste basis is unjustified. IITs and IIMs select and produce the best minds for the service of society and the nation. In the era of cut-throat competition, these institutions have set certain standards to select capable students. If less competent students are admitted on the basis of reservation, the image of these institutions will be on the decline.

So, the government should set aside its political interests and let the education system in these institutes flourish without any discrimination. The government should look at all pros and cons before taking such unfavourable step.



I appeal to all politicians to shun the caste and religion-based petty politics that they are playing in the name of reservation. Instead, they should ensure the triumph of merit. The people haven’t forgotten the horrors of Mandalisation, and politicians should not be instrumental in repeating the same.

— P.S. BHATTI, Jalandhar

Congress doing what it opposed

It is like revisiting the days of V.P. Singh and the Mandal Commission in 1990 when I was in the first year in college. The proposed reservations in IITs and IIMs as suggested by the HRD Ministry is very discouraging to millions of young and qualified students who are not in the reserved category. If one recalls watching ‘India’s Rajiv’ by Simi Garewal, you will recall the late Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi calling the Mandalisation of Indian politics as very “unfortunate”. It is indeed a shame that the UPA Government headed by the Congress is doing virtually what it opposed back in 1990. I applaud Science and Technology Minister Kapil Sibal for being vocal in his opposition to these proposed reservations, even if he has broken his party’s protocol. Politics in India need vocal leaders and not mute sycophants.


Merit alone should be the criterion

There should be no reservation in the world-class educational institutions like IITs and IIMs. Instead, efforts should be made to help these institutions strive for excellence, so that people from other countries, too, start coming to India for higher studies. Though Constitution makers had made a provision of reservation for only 10 years, this practice is still continuing. This is a retrograde step. Admissions to the specialised courses should be on the basis of merit alone, irrespective of caste and creed. We should encourage merit instead of casteism because in this era of globalisation, only merit can help our country command respect in the world. Therefore, the educational institutions should be asked to admit students on the basis of merit to produce world-class engineers, doctors, administrators, etc.

— ANIL SHARMA, Ludhiana

The move will affect quality

The Union HRD Ministry’s proposal of the 27 per cent reservation for OBC students in specialised professional institutes has revived the merit vs. caste debate in the education sector. It has caused the same furore among the public as was caused by the Mandal Commission recommendations in 1991. Reservation is nothing but a political gimmick and it should be opposed at any cost. Those who are advocating the move expecting that it will genuinely help lift the status of backward classes need to look into the past to seek an honest answer.
If the proposed reservation is made, it will certainly affect the premier education institutions like the IITs and IIMs, causing a serious deterioration in the quality of the professionals produced. Moreover, these institutes have already reserved 22.5 per cent seats for scheduled castes and scheduled tribes. If the new recommendations come into place, general category students will have access to just half the seats in these institutions. At a time when the rising population and aspirations have been increasingly skewing the ratio between the number of applicants and available education opportunities, new reservation will only add a great deal of pressure on students. It is little wonder that students are up in arms against the move, reminding us of the days of the Mandal agitation. The only difference today is that the “now generation” prefers to use modern means of communication. Instead of taking to the streets and burning effigies, it is sending SMSes and posting blogs on the Net to influence public opinion.


Quotas divide society

The Constitution proclaims the principle of equality to all citizens, irrespective of caste, creed and culture. So, admissions to all specialised courses should be done on the basis of merit alone because it is the only way to measure the confidence and knowledge of a student.

Casteism has always remained a subject of controversy in our country. This social evil needs to be weeded out from the minds of students who are the true asset of the nation. Much of our past follies have already hindered the path of progress. And in the new world of opportunity, caste restrictions will only divide the society. Also, the overall development of individuals and the country will not be possible. Admissions on the basis of caste will only act as a discouraging factor and will bring a sense of inferiority among the students belonging to lower castes. Thus, in the changing scenario, there is a need for new ideas for the uplift of the weaker sections of society as well for the progress of the country.


Improve basic school education

‘Caste vs merit’ has all along been a burning issue in India. The Constitution provides for the reservation for the educational and social uplift of the marginalised sections of society. Over 58 years of Independence, reservation has benefited only the so-called creamy layer of the downtrodden groups. The real targets of reservation living in remote and sleepy villages have gained nothing from it. They have not been able to uplift themselves even to that extent, where reservation itself would help them in any manner.

Thus, the prime objective of the government should be to develop the most efficient human resource base in India by setting up compulsory mechanisms for the downtrodden, more specifically in the countryside, at the school level itself. In this way, backward sections will not need any reservation in future, owing to their already enhanced competitiveness in different fields.

The ‘Common school’ strategy has been advocated by many thinkers to be the best one. It has potential to develop the minds of the children belonging to marginalised sections. Infrastructure must be improved for their coaching to get admission to professional institutes purely based on merit. In the long run, reservation must be phased out, giving way to merit.


Media should sensitise the public

It is really disturbing to see how the Delhi police roughed up the medical students who were protesting against the reservation policy. Such incidents of police brutality have shocked the nation, putting the question mark over the hollow claims of the government to build better police-public relationship. The use of teargas, lathis and water cannons on the protesting students only show the extent to which the police force has been brutalised. The question is who will police the police? Is there any political will to improve the things?

In India, political masters act like rajas and maharajas who never like their decisions to be questioned. In a democratic country, every citizen has right to free speech. It is only our own representatives who compel people to protest and demonstrate by refusing to meet them or hear their grievances. Such incidents shake and shatter the confidence of public in these inefficient politicians and the police force. What happens if the doctors decide to socially and professionally boycott the police and politicians?

The media should play more aggressive role to sensitise the public to the ever-increasing apathy and shameless attitude of politicians and beastly activities of the police. A common man like me is compelled to think: Do we have representatives or rulers? Are we citizens or subjects? Why do we elect them as guardians of the nation those whom we would not trust as guardians of our children?

— Dr VITULL K. GUPTA, Bhatinda

It violates Constitutional right

The government should give the poor students a much-needed uplift so that they can realise their true potential, but not by reserving seats in the premier educational institution of repute because it violates the Right to Equality clause guaranteed by our Constitution.

Moreover, many persons belonging to backward classes hold high positions. They are well off and can afford to compete in the general category to get admission, but they too are given preference, whereas the government’s aim to reserve seats is to encourage poor students. Such policies only discourage brilliant students because the seats in general category are very less. Instead of reserving seats, the government should provide free coaching and free education to the poor students, so that they don’t need the crutches of quota. Therefore, the government should reconsider the move to reserve more seats.

— AYUSHI SACHDEVA, Yamunanagar

Provide quality education

The main purpose of admission to professional courses is to tap the best talent available in the country. Caste-based reservations will surely disturb the selection procedure that is based on quality. If the government is determined to ameliorate the condition of the weaker sections of society, can it be done only by recognising them as doctors or engineers? Is there no other way out? Are not we giving a fillip to materialism? We must know that a good position can’t always lead to satisfaction.

We know that quality education is the base for all sorts of development. If the government starts providing equal educational opportunities to all at the grassroots level, the question of granting favour would disappear on its own. It’s very unfortunate that our leaders announce such schemes simply to increase their vote bank. Let us pray to God to make our leaders more patriotic.



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