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Thread: Quotas are route to inequality at IITs, IIMs

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    Quotas are route to inequality at IITs, IIMs

    As Reported By Mayank Tewari in DNA, Tuesday, June 24, 2008

    Their dropout rates are higher at IITs, and salaries lower at IIMs
    NEW DELHI: The recent decision of the Indian Institute of Technology
    (IIT), Delhi, to terminate 25 students, many of them from the
    scheduled caste category, for poor performance has raised hackles all

    While the National Commission for Scheduled Castes is pressuring the
    institute to take them back, the issue that cannot be wished away is
    their actual performance after gaining entry into these hallowed

    Have quotas really worked? How do students from the scheduled castes
    and scheduled tribes (SC/ST), inducted on the basis of lower
    qualifying marks, fare in terms of performance and salaries at the
    IITs and the Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs)? Are they able to
    cope with high academic pressures?

    DNA, which used the Right to Information Act (RTI) to extract numbers
    on SC/ST performance from reluctant institutions, has some answers. We
    found that quotas don't work as well in the IITs, where the demands
    for academic excellence are higher, but the results are reasonable
    when it comes to the IIMs.

    It's clear that dropout rates are high among SC/ST candidates at the
    IITs; at the IIMs, their average salaries are also lower than general
    category students. The big differences, though, come up in the case of
    top performers. At IIM, Kozhikode, the highest salary earned by a
    general category student was Rs70 lakh this year; the highest earned
    by the SC/ST candidate was just Rs13 lakh. The differences in average
    salaries were lower: for general category students, it was Rs15.84
    lakh, for SC/ST Rs11.01 lakh.

    The real problem area seems to be the IITs. According to information
    provided by IIT-Powai in Mumbai, 21 SC/ST students were asked to
    terminate their undergraduate BTech course in 2006-2007. In the last
    three years, the number of reserved category students terminating
    their courses at Powai has risen quietly. In 2005-2006, the institute
    had asked 20 SC/ST students to pack their bags. A year earlier, in
    2004-2005, 19 students left without completing the course. Between
    2003 and 2007, the yearly average dropout number for IIT, Powai, is a
    high 16 students .

    Two other IITs in Delhi and Kharagpur, for which DNA has data had
    lower average dropout rates of 11 and eight among SC/ST candidates.
    The dropout rate for general category students at IIT, Powai, hovers
    around 1-2% and, according to faculty members, is nowhere close to
    that of reserved category students.

    Students are asked to terminate their courses when they accumulate
    more backlogs (courses failed) than permitted by IIT rules. "There is
    no semester-wise fail/pass system at IIT, Powai. Students can continue
    further studies with up to four backlogs (failed courses) at the end
    of each semester, till the second year, or up to six backlogs at the
    end of each semester during the third and subsequent years of study,"
    says Dr Indu Saxena, deputy registrar at IIT, Powai.

    But things are better at IIT, Delhi, where yearly dropout rates have
    stabilised in the range of 3-9 for SC/STs combined after a peak of 23
    in 2002. A professor at IIT, Delhi, told DNA that the institutes
    seldom have any control over dropout rates. "The quality of reserved
    category students every year is variable, unlike general category
    admissions, where merit is the sole criteria. In the case of reserved
    categories, sometimes totally undeserving candidates are admitted who
    cannot meet the standards set by the institute," he said.

    The gap between general and SC/ST category students is less stark at
    the IIMs, where average salary differentials are not seriously out of
    whack. DNA, however, found that students from the general category
    fared much better than reserved category students in terms of salaries
    offered at campus.

    IIM, Ahmedabad, did not share details about the highest salary offered
    to SC/ST candidates in 2008, but the highest obtained by general
    category students was Rs60 lakh. Average salary levels for the last
    two years show some serious divergences.

    Last year, the average salary offered to a general category student at
    IIMA was Rs13.70 lakh, while an SC/ST candidate got Rs11.14 lakh. This
    year, the general category average was Rs17.81 lakh while the average
    salary given to reserved category students was Rs14.50 lakh.
    According to Bakul Dholakia, former director of IIM, Ahmedabad,
    disparities in salaries are not surprising. "At IIMA, we have always
    acknowledged the academic differences between general and reserved
    category students. It is generally assumed that reserved category
    students, on an average, score 20% less than their general category
    counterparts. Keeping this in mind, an average salary difference of
    Rs3-4 lakh between general and reserved category students is logical,"
    he told DNA.

    Piyush Sinha, professor at IIMA, feels that "average salaries figures
    are not sufficient to conclude that reserved category students at IIMs
    do not perform as well as their counterparts in the general category."
    According to him, "there are many factors that decide the salary
    during campus recruitments. The companies which come to the campuses
    are never given out the names of candidates based on caste. Everything
    works on merit."

    DNA - India - Quotas are route to inequality at IITs, IIMs - Daily News & Analysis

    Last edited by sidmis; 24-06-08 at 07:16 AM.


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