A step toward Higher Education?

In Indian higher education landscape there is such a rule as Reservation. That this rule is not only discriminatory but also scraps off people’s opportunities by showing its total inefficacy in terms of how successfully this regime works is evident in this years admission into Odisha Engineering premier, the great IIT.

After decades of “failure” in Odisha Higher Education in bringing any national level Academic Organizations to the state, barely a few years ago, a marvelous step was engraved in its academic history when the famed IIT came into establishment in the state capital Bhubaneshwar.

[To those who are enthusiasts of etymology; my analysis is, Bhubaneshwar is a phonetic matching of maha (bahu) agni iswara, mohan iswar or even mahenjodaro, Sun; the Lord of our world, a 2000 year old capital city of the region, filled with equally meritorious ancient heritage, but failing to catch up with most of the national development indices. This followed even the establishment of many other national level grand organizations, like the AIIMS (medical) and NISER (Science Research) and many; would be premiers.]

While the newcomer IITs were to be supported by already established IIT leaders nevertheless there does not seem to be a well thought out step toward integrating the action plan of the organization. Of-course I know for sure, the integrated shapes of the organization will occur toward many years henceforth, where the regional aspirations would have taken their ductile qualities allowing total authority of the national apex bodies in due time. We gave you so much time and resource you failed to show much progress, we will have our selected governing entities taking the apex decisions. Thats when the organization will have its own campus, own infrastructure, enviably so, at a state of the art level and all decisions will be taken in a way totally aloof from what aspirations would have seen the region into its stately dreams. In other words the fact that the IITs are dreamed also to not only boost national aspirations in terms of R&D, being an economic driver of such, but the same, also at a level of the concurrent state. The state dreams might just be swept off your feet citing poor state level performances, just like the so called international airport at Bhubaneswar, which is about 1/20 – 1/50 th, the size of any other international airport I have seen in the country.

For now the IIT is a slow swimmer, not necessarily the final winner in terms of materializing into a zygote of excellence. Scattered infrastructures. Unheard reputation, barely 5% admittance from the state’s population (according to news paper reports) lack of much hope as even the hype is invisible.

How does the reservation process adversely impact the prospects of this new paramour of higher education, especially in this state?

The Reservation or caste based quota regime has it that when a certain number of vacancies are created due to unfilled Quota Seats instead of immediately forfeiting such opportunities by a non-existent candidate pool, the opportunities are extended toward a pool of quota-qualified candidates who nevertheless did not qualify even the reduced cut-off selection criteria, in other words, even after two degrees of boosting their prospects;

1. by hailing them as disadvantaged in the society and therefore giving a large share of the total available seats, as large as say 60% of total engineers could be from such disadvantaged section, the advantage being defined on purely hereditary basis and no actual measure of their advantage index. Correct me on the numbers if need be.

2. The 2nd degree of boost comes from reducing the cut off marks of selection and increasing the age limit by 5 – 10 years.

There is yet another degree of trading off with their disadvantages. (after actually cutting off any prospects of any anti-quota regime harshly enough).

A certain pool that is still disqualified by 2 levels of boosting their prospects, will be selected for admission, although tentatively. So they get admitted to the courses, as preparatory batches. Where ONLY IF they could not qualify certain criteria, the next year they will have to finally (!!) forfeit the opportunities that was so fervently extended toward them.

Thats what happened to the IIT at Bhubaneshwar. A large number of such students — some even 3rd level of caste based beneficiary who failed the after-the-year-of-admission prospect, who have to forfeit now– could never gain admission to the organization after the general category students were forfeited to create vacancy for the quota-qualifiers with much lesser qualifying scores.

In other words a large vacancy was created in the IIT (and in any such organization which must follow the practice, eg all Governmental Orgs) This vacancy is competitively much larger than the actual number of general category or state category students that get admitted to the IIT. eg if there is only 5% state category students that gets admitted, and say 10% general category students, the above described quota scheme has it, that no less than 10% seats can lay vacant, thats after removal of any perspective candidates with merit, that nonetheless would qualify in first attempt, if such a Draconian Scheme wasn’t stopping them from such.

Here is the summary. And I am quoting actual numbers from News Paper Reports.

News Report; 5% Odisha Resident students. [Including perhaps those also who would be Odia by their citizenship, irrespective of where they stay]

My estimate; a typical 10% general category students, going by how large the quota regime entails in terms of percentage toward quota qualifiers.

News Paper Report; Lying vacant per anum, 10%.

My reasoning; if there would be no quota based qualification system perhaps these seats would never lay vacant, plus we would have far superior engineers produced in the country. Because the 3-levels of quota scrutiny sees the merit off to such a level even 10% seats lay vacant, at the same level that gets admitted after fierce scrutiny.

Think. On one end by loosening the criteria we still run out of the pool, by a margin of 10%. On the other end even the the screw is tightened we are able to produce as much qualifying candidates from the criteria as there would be in its contrary methods. Its like mixing wheat and chaff, the later to the extent of 60%. Only our visionary politicians could think of such schemes.

The story on the private colleges of engineering is abysmal, for other reasons. (In any case the quota qualifying schemes are applicable there also, just that we have produced more number of colleges in that sector)

A whopping 75% of seats in Odisha private engg colleges are lying vacant. 48000 vacancies. 12000 filled. 2 days to go before last day.

While quota based reasoning might be applicable to 5 – 10 % seats lying vacant, whats happening to rest?

These engg colleges are low standard. If I am willing to pay 20 lakhs per anum, I would go to another 29 states where a higher quality opportunity might be available. In other words if only 10 best colleges were available in Odisha out of the 100s that are available now, as many as would be willing to pay, or secure a very good rank would go for an engineering degree.

I was totally shocked many years ago, to see the quality of engineering students in this time. In our time, only the best of the best would brush with any opportunity. Rest, if not at-least a small number could bring their money-power to their advantage and community’s disadvantage, That picture has totally changed.

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