If you havn't seen it already, check it out here.
Apparently, 125 members of the faculty have signed this letter. The blog post I have linked to does not provide us with the names of the faculty who have signed it.
I have no problems with faculty being against reservations. But what I have a problem is with this letter. It is quite simply a no-brainer. I will try to pick this letter apart.
The undergraduate students of IIT Kanpur do not usually, or even often, come from wealthy and privileged backgrounds. The vast majority come from the smaller metropolises like Kanpur, Patna and Allahabad, or cities like Bareilly, and the moffasil towns and villages of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. A typical example is the late Satyendra K Dubey, an IITK alumnus, whose murder in 2003 while working on the National Highway project got national media attention. He came from a small village in Bihar.Uh? This is quite frankly bad information, at worst, a lie. Most of the students who get into IITs are from the metros. Many go through a year of two of intensive coaching at coaching centres in cities/towns like Delhi, Kanpur, Patna, Kota, etc, etc. In fact, the coaching centres has played on the minds of the setters of JEE for a long time. Read this article by a prof who points out some of the debates that surround JEE. JEE was purposefully made easier to defeat the unquestionable influence of the coaching centres and to make it easier for people who did not go through coaching to get into IITs. Are none of the "125" members of the faculty who signed this letter not aware of this? Unless, they just ignored to mention this as it would harm their argument about how it is "dedication and talent" that gets people into IIT and not "wealth, privilege or birth".
Based on this premise, the article goes on to say -
Into such an environment the introduction of privileges accruing only to membersBut it is only the privileged (in terms of having the money to pay for coaching centres or living in the cities) or the geniuses (who are a few people for whom coaching is not required) that gets people into IITs!
of particular castes would be a travesty.
Further, with no objective criteria yet laid down for defining backwardness,What? Are they not aware of the 11 guidelines that Mandal commission recommended to define backwardness? Even if you consider those guidelines to be contentious, this statement does not make any sense to me.
such privileges will seemingly be granted in perpetuity.
Backwardness is not determined by caste alone. It is clear for all to see thatAgreed. Does this mean that you are ready to welcome reservation policy that would incorporate all these factors? If so, how would this fit in your crib about merit?
other factors like poverty, region and gender have greater adverse impact on the
chances of a person becoming an engineer or a doctor. It therefore seems to us
that, except in electoral terms, purely caste-based reservations make no
Rather it is to argue that the best institutions in India should be theTranslation: IITs are an elitist institute where we don't want the scum of India to populate.
preserves of excellence, with proven performance as their only selection
Proven performance, indeed! There is only parameter that is used to determine this proven performance and it is JEE. Performance in one exam [equals to] proven performance.
Rather it is a necessary strategy for ensuring that developing India soonLol! IITians have mostly contributed to the development of the mahan Silicon Valley of the US of A. I really wonder what the contribution of IITians is to the technological advancement of this country. Don't point to the IT industry.
catches up with the developed nations of the world, so that, in the long run the
IITs are instrumental to raising the standard of life of all Indians, and shine
forth as exemplars of development and emancipation in an environment of extreme
ie, if push comes to shove...
Even if Government insists on affirmative action programs for IITs...
we are sure that the IITs can be trusted to evolve and implement such programs by themselves.Why havn't they done that so far? Why does the government come up with a draconian measure before they come out saying, "don't worry, we can do this ourselves. You don't have to force us to."
After all, IIT Kanpur has had an exemplary record of implementing the SC/ST
reservation in a supportive and pro-active way that became a model for all IITs
Yeah, they really have been a model of creating a very wonderful atmosphere for SC/ST students.
It would be most disastrous to impose a 27.5% quota on the IITs in an ostensiblyYes, that is true. IITs would have to increase their seats if the government goes ahead with its proposed compromise.
"fair way" by increasing the number of seats. This would mean rapidly increasing
the seats substantially.
In recent years we have doubled our intake.This is news to me. As far as I know, the intake of students has increased by about 100-150 per IIT. That is like an increase of 35% at the most. Not sure about the medacity of this statement.
So the IITs are already short of faculty, as few applicants meet our exactingSo, if the IITs are already short of faculty, why did they increase their intake two-fold. Of course, their arms could have been twisted by the government. Interestingly, they did not raise any voice against the proposed scheme to create 11 new IITs. If they cannot find faculty for the current IITs, how are they going to create those institutes with quality faculty? And wouldn't increasing seats and increasing the number of IITs dilute the quality and image of the IIT brand, much like the water mixed with milk by the doodhwallahs? Why didn't they raise a hue and cry over that?
standards of academic excellence.
If a sudden increase of faculty is imposed on us by a drastic increase of seats, the entire academic standing of the IITs will be compromised, and they will go the way of so many universities before them.True. The logistics of increasing seats to appease the striking medicos does not make sense to me. But is this an argument against reservations?
The entire mail contains little, if any, arguments against the reservation policy. Apart from cribbing about 'merit', there is no substance. And it is full of grandeur and impassionate pleas to not 'hurt' the IITs that are almost melodramatic. Sample this -
It will have devastating consequences to the culture of excellence cultivated
over half-a-century by generations of dedicated and knowledgeable teachers and
tens of thousands of brilliant students of all castes, creeds and linguistic and
because the admission is blind to caste and indeed to every other criterion except ability
Rather it is to argue that the best institutions in India should be the preserves of excellence, with proven performance as their only selection criterion. Such institutions serve to develop the “seed-corn” of the nation which can then be planted elsewhere to make the whole nation grow in strength and prosperity. Therefore think not of IIT students in terms of their castes, but of them only as India’s best hope, as the future leaders of India who have been nurtured in an environment where only excellence matters, not caste, creed or ethnic origin.
ensuring that developing India soon catches up with the developed nations of the world, so that, in the long run the IITs are instrumental to raising the standard of life of all Indians, and shine forth as exemplars of development and emancipation in an environment of extreme challenges.
only very few other than the IITs can train students in the highly specialised engineering and scientific skills required in India if it is to become a developed country
At this moment, when the entire nation is on the verge of take-off to becoming a major economic power, when multinational companies are shifting their research and development centres to India because of the vast technical manpower here, let us not play with these great institutions and cripple them in the hour of their greatest utility.
do everything you can to preserve the IITs for the future generations of India and, indeed, for the very future of our country
So let them remain free to flourish as the standard bearers of Indian science and technology which was, and should remain, their primary purpose.
IIT professors are quite intelligent folks; they are probably the very best in India. So, this letter really comes to me as a great surprise. I expected it to contain some reasoning as to why they are opposed to the proposed reservations but instead I find nothing but wild statements and unrealistic (and untruthful) harping on merit. In essence, this letter is an insult to intelligence and I wonder who are these professors who have signed this letter.
I suspect the hand of the one man who is capable of all this melodramatic and impassionate words. To IITKians, that man's performance in Hall 4 would be quite fresh in memory.
My alma matter disappoints me. Now, I will go out and cry. :`(
Hat tip -- Abi
PS. Badri also has criticised this letter.
Technorati tags: Reservations, Caste Politics, IITK, Merit