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Ultimately, does quota help?

AS THE great ?reserve vs deserve? debate rages across the country, statistics reveal that deserving candidates who make it to management/technical or academic institutes on merit have performed far better than the ones who take the reservation route.

india Updated: Apr 11, 2006 01:44 IST

Reserved category students found wanting when it comes to performance

AS THE great ‘reserve vs deserve’ debate rages across the country, statistics reveal that deserving candidates who make it to management/technical or academic institutes on merit have performed far better than the ones who take the reservation route.

But that’s a part of the story. The reality is that quota merely helps in getting in, not in sailing through. The loss thus is two fold. One, the meritorious candidates are unable to get in because of reservation and two those for whom the quota system ostensibly is aimed at, don’t benefit either.

Whether it is at IIM Lucknow, BHU, GSVM Medical College, Kanpur, Allahabad University or Allahabad’s Motilal Nehru Institute of Technology, everywhere one thing is clear: that in the ultimate analysis it is class that prevails over caste.

As a senior IIM teacher said, “In the long run quota actually harms the students simply because through reservation one might get in but then there is no guarantee that the student would be able to survive on various parameters during his/her stay on the campus.”

In 2004-5, at IIM-L an abnormally high number of students after being found wanting on various parameters, had to repeat the postgraduate programme I (PGP I) class. Some ‘dropped out’. Majority of them were ‘quota’ candidates.

In fact, in general surgery department of BHU’s Institute of Medical Sciences (IMS), out of 50 students, 38 are admitted under general category while the remaining 12 get their admission under SC/ST quota.

“While majority of the candidates admitted under the general category were very good, the performance of 8 of the 12 candidates admitted through the quota was bad. The other four were average,” Dr SK Gupta, reader, General Surgery, IMS BHU told HT on phone on Monday.

In Kanpur, the academic record of the Ganesh Shankhar Vidyarthi Memorial Medical College is on the decline due to poor performance of students who get admission under reserved category through Combined Pre-Medical Entrance Test.

This year alone 50 per cent students of Schedule Caste category failed in the MBBS final year examination. Astonishingly, out of the remaining 50 per cent, over 35 per cent had to be given grace marks to get through, says a senior faculty of the medical college.

However, students under the Other Backward Classes (OBC) have performed better than the students of general category. This year’s result shows that 9.6 per cent OBC students failed in the final year examination against the fail percentage of 15.7 per cent of medicos of the general category.

According to records, over 50 per cent SC students do not make it in the main batch examination conducted every year.

In the year 2005-6, a total of 184 candidates appeared in the final year MBBS examination conducted by the GSVM college. Out of 32 SC candidates, 16 got failed. Many of them failed in four subjects like medicine, paediatrics, surgery, obstetrics and gynaecology.

On the other hand, OBC candidates have proved that they no longer rely on any reservation to get through to the medical entrance test. This year 42 OBC candidates appeared in the exam and only 4 got failed.

At the Allahabad University (AU), the scene is no different.“We have observed that 60 per cent of the SC/ST students appearing in the final exams fail in BSc, half of them fail in B Com. Even in BA, the fail percentage is as high as 40 per cent. Students of other categories do much better,” admitted Prof HS Upadhyaya, Controller of Exams, AU.

“Imagine this was the scene when the quota was 22.5 per cent for SC/ST and 3 per cent for handicapped. Now, if the government were to include the OBC quota too, the entire IIM and IIT system would collapse,” a senior IIM teacher remarked. Teachers say that they are easily able to distinguish between the quota candidates and the general ones. “Through experience, responses, conduct and performance you are able to make that out,” a senior IIM teacher remarked.

Echoing similar sentiments, a faculty member in the Chemical Engineering Department of IT-BHU Dr PK Mishra said the institute now conducts special one-year ‘preparatory classes’ (since 2002) for the students of SC/ST category to get the reserved seats filled.

He said before 2002, most of the seats allocated under reserved category remained vacant as the candidates could not get through the competition (though marks percentage in the entrance examination for these candidates was kept lower than the general candidates).

“Therefore, while on the one hand the general students study for four years to get his BTech degree, the SC/ST students study five year to get the same degree,” he said. Ironically, he too admitted that pressure was on them when these candidates did not perform well even after expiry of the deadline for obtaining degrees. “Ultimately we are left with no option but to ensure their smooth passage in the examination,” he said. Giving a general picture of this ‘category’ scenario, he said only 20 to 30 per cent students of reserved category were found average or above average and got good jobs while the remaining 60 to 70 per cent failed to even get a job. He said instead of enhancing reservation, the government should extend better facilities at the primary stage to enable them to fight the competitive examinations on their own.