Friday, April 25, 2008

Brand IIT: Quota Controversy and My Opinion

"Ending uncertainty over the controversial law providing for 27 per cent reservation for Other Backward Classes in central educational institutions including IITs and IIMs, the Supreme Court on Thursday upheld its validity but ruled that the “creamy layer” among the backwards would not get reservation" reports the Hindustan Times on April 11 2008.

I agree its a risky move. I agree with everything that everybody- academics, students, administrators - is saying about why the move is flawed and won't work. Lets also take it as a given that same facilities, same resources (teachers, funds) and more students, some less qualified as measured by the tests will put a huge strain on the system.

What is at Stake? - Brand IIT
What is to be gained? - Brand India (wealth creation through social/education inclusion)

Taking the long term view: What choice does India have? Home to the world's richest AND the poorest, the most educated AND least literate, the best health care AND the worst, what is next?

Why it will work: It all really depends on IITians (students and alum) and they are a smart bunch. They have an opportunity to make lemonade from lemons - prove that they can not only create new wealth but they can create it in areas where it has not been done through normal capital channels.

Additionally - I offer two arguments:
1 - resource issue is a red herring - average spend per IIT student is a pittance compared, to lets say, an MIT student and IItians claim they are the best. Since adding 50% more students changes this ratio not a whit. - why should it matter?
2 - student quality degradation is a red herring - It has been proven in business that employee diversity is a business asset for the different kinds of thinking and viewpoints it brings. The superhuman IIT exam barrier has self selected a narrow slice of intelligentsia into IIT's - the new student pool will bring, at a minimum, - new market knowledge. Hopefully that translates into local markets and technology innovation, like alternative energy, for local consumption.

BTW - I am a proponent of a high tech version of a Peace Corp type program for India to bridge the urban rural divide. This could a stop-gap measure. After all the ruling will be under review in 5 years.

I post this knowing full well the battle that awaits at home ...

1 comment:

GP said...

OK Have 100% reservation

But state clearly the duration

5 yrs, 10 yrs ??? 500 yrs????

The only ppl calling OBC's backward are the OBCs themselves

Go ahead, pamper them