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Quotas will backfire: Academics

Govt's move to introduce quotas in IITs and IIMs may lead to division among students, say experts at top institutes.

india Updated: Apr 08, 2006 17:30 IST

The Government's move to introduce reservation in all central universities, Indian Institutes of Technology (IIT) and Indian Institutes of Management (IIMS) will bring down the quality of education and may backfire in the long run, say professors at these prestigious institutions.

"Proposed reservation in IITs, IIMs and other high learning grounds will certainly affect the quality of education. Reservation will compromise with the quality of student intake and it may affect the quality of teachers as well," said Jagdeep S Chhokar, a senior professor at IIM-Ahmedabad.

"If they are going to increase the number of seats in these places, the student teacher equation will be adversely affected," Chhokar said from Ahmedabad.

He further added, "Currently there is a shortage of quality teachers in IITs and IIMs and if the number of students increases, there has to be a corresponding rise in the number of teachers."

"When we are finding it difficult to get quality professors, how can one get more teachers for these extra seats? The only way out is compromising on the quality, which means poor teaching and devaluation of the brand name and the certificate," he said.

On Wednesday, Human resource Minister Arjun Singh said his ministry had decided to reserve 27 per cent seats for backward classes in all central universities, IITs and IIMs.

Currently, central Government-funded institutions reserve 22.5 per cent of seats for students belonging to the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes.

Chhokar said the reservation move could also lead to polarisation among students on the basis of caste.

"Though I think that students in IIMs will not accept the proposal, it will divide students on the basis of caste and social background. When we should feel proud as Indians and respect talent, plans are afoot to inject a sense of casteism and socially insecurity," he said.

"When reservation could not make much difference in the last 60 years, it can hardly benefit the needy now. It's the creamy layer who will take all the advantage, he said.

DP Kothari, a professor at IIT-Delhi said the Government should not put pressure on IITs and IIMs.

"Government should not overburden these institutions. There should be focus on creating high-end educational institutes that can compete with IITs and IIMs," said Kothari, who was a former director in charge of IIT-Delhi.

"There is a growing demand for quality institutions and the need should be addressed with utmost sincerity."

However, some institutions were more cautious in their response to the development.

"We are yet to get the Government circular. We can only discuss the issue after that. As such, the reservation will not be applicable this year and we have a long time to react," said Anup K Sinha, dean of IIM-Kolkata.

Krishna Kumar, director of IIM-Kozhikode also did not elaborate on the institute's stand over the reservation issue. "We have not received any directive and would not like to comment before that."

Shashi Sharma, a professor in Delhi University, said: "What the Government should do is to give financial and educational support at the primary and elementary school levels.

"If the proposal gets implemented, then there will be groupism among students and they will be divided on the basis of social background," Sharma added.