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IITs struggle to fill OBC seats

Fifty out of 8,925 might seem like a small number. But when the units are Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) seats, it takes on a different value. Snehal Rebello reports.

india Updated: Aug 02, 2009 02:11 IST
Snehal Rebello

Fifty out of 8,925 might seem like a small number. But when the units are Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) seats, it takes on a different value.

While releasing data on Saturday about students’ performance in the Joint Entrance Examination (JEE) to the 15 IITs, officials said they could not fill 50 of the 1,594 seats reserved for Other Backward Classes (OBC) category.

They said they would transfer these seats to the open category. They could not fill these seats even though they had lowered the minimum score for being eligible by 10 per cent. While the cut-off for the general category was 178, an OBC student needed only 161 to pass.

“Without relaxation, we would not have been able to fill the OBC seats. The problem will be more acute next year since the entire 27 per cent OBC quota will be rolled out,” said Gautam Barua, director of IIT-Guwahati. The institute conducted JEE 2009.

This year, only 18 per cent OBC reservation is in place. Also, about 40 seats in the Physically Disabled (PD) category remain vacant. These seats, however, cannot be transferred to the general category. Of the 251 PD seats, the IITs have not been able to find PD candidates in the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes Categories.

“We plan to write to the PD commissioner asking him to transfer these seats to the general category within the PD group,” said Barua.

This year, the score of the top-ranking candidate slipped to 424 from 433 in 2008. However, the cut-off score dipped only slightly, to 178 from 180 last year.

“Even though the paper was easier than last year’s, with more CBSE exam-like questions, we found that many students had not attempted simpler objective and concept-oriented questions,” said Professor Amiya Pani, JEE chairperson, IIT-Bombay.

“Perhaps, students are tutored to crack only tough questions.”