reservation fundaes…

Spent the last couple of hours teaching math to a friend of mine. He entered IIMB through a reserved quota last year. Did extremely badly and flunked the first year. If he doesn’t do well this time round, he’s been told he’ll be asked to leave.

During the course of my teaching, I figured out that his level of understanding is much lower than most other people I have encountered. The way I had to teach today was totally different from the style I adopt during the tutorials I take. I had to literally hand-hold him as I took him through one of the not-so-tough parts of probability theory.

Having finished teaching him, I am forced to raise this fundamental question as to whether we are overdoing reservations in the premier institutes. Many candidates who enter through the reserved quota end up doing pretty well (in fact this year one such guy, a good friend of mine, narrowly missed out on the coveted Director’s Merit List which is awarded to the top 10 performers in the batch) but there are also many who end up doing really badly.

Some of them take three years to finish the course. Some of them are forced to drop out. Some manage to finish the course but it’s a nightmare for the placement committee to place them at the end of the course (yeah the last bit happens with some general category people also but the incidence is much less among them).

There’s this other incident I would like to quote here. A girl wrote the JEE one year before me. Didn’t do well enough to get in but was offered the “Preparatory Course”. At the end of the course, she was found not to have done well enough to continue to the main program and was asked to leave. She raised a hue and cry, moved court, moved the National Commission for SC/STs and managed to get in (as my batchmate). I have heard from my friends and juniors that she’s unlikely to leave IIT with a degree.

Are we raising false hopes for these “weaker sections” by reserving too many seats for them? Would we be better off taking only those candidates from the “weaker sections” who are reasonably good and are likely to successfully complete the course and not keep taking just to fill a quota?

The guy whom I taught today has already spent a year and a quarter and 2 lakh rupees for his education at IIMB. And he seemed to give an indication that he’s not doing too well this time round also and is likely to quit sooner or later. And he had a software job before he joined IIMB. Now, as an “IIMB dropout”, it would be tough for him to find a job. Wasn’t he better off still working in that software firm?

Important questions to be answered but i bet that in the name of populism, vote banks, etc. these quotas will only increase and more people’s life will get ruined this way.

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