Saturday, May 27, 2006

Reservations V: Apotheosis of IITs and myth of merit

Attacking apotheosis of IITs
Who are these elite IITians anyway? They are a group of students who have just passed an extremely tough entrance test at the age 16-18. Agreed, the IITians when they enter the institute after high school are one of the best in our country ONLY based on an examination conducted by JEE. But that's all there is to it, nothing more and nothing less. That doesn’t mean an Indian brain is just math, physics and chemistry. It only shows that they had the right combination of intelligence, hard work, privileges and social conditions, working for them during the time of the entrance test. 

There are many others who do not have access to or obtain that right combination at that age and fail to enter but may attain them at a later age to become even more successful. In fact, it is the duty of such institutes to actually provide some of those factors to under privileged. It’s unfortunate that our so called top institutes do not consider these other but essential factors into consideration durng admission process- such as diversity, social backwardness, inclusion of different religions, which are known to play a vital role in the health of an institute and an engineer.
 
Many technology institutes in the world are rated high for their quality of the program- characterized by the research output and industry association resulting in inventions, improvements and advances in Science and Technology, diversity of its students and faculty, and not just by the salaries of outgoing students. Attacking the hype, I would like to say that IITs are very average institutes. Their B.Tech program is arguably one of the best, but the actual research and concrete results coming from Masters and Ph.D. programs are almost negligible. 

To that effect, they are only good at supplying finest raw material or fodder material to MNCs, IIMs, MS and Ph.D. programs in US, but they do not by themselves produce any thing of great value in research content. There are no major inventions or innovations in technology coming out from these unnecessarily hyped Indian Institutes of Technology; except for some applications and solutions which look good in a Science Fare and Exhibition. As such I hold similar opinion of many other top-rated institutes of India- not just IITs.
 
[While I deride these institutes, I do know that all the alumni who feel proud of their alma mater will fight vehemently to support them. Even I felt very proud when my college was ranked in top 10 institutes of India. But frankly, we all know what kind of research actually takes place in those buildings. ]

When these institutes were formed in those initial days of Independence, the faculty was filled with forward castes, and it still remains that way. Currently, of the 400 member faculty at IIT Chennai 282 are Brahmins (only 3 from SC). No wonder, they are called ‘islands of excellence’ and ‘bastions of quality’. What they mean by that is that the ‘disease of reservations’ has not affected them. They have kept them ‘pure’ by avoiding the ‘contamination of lower caste’ that other institutes have suffered. This is the exact mentality that kept our caste system in fashion for thousands of years- that some castes are chaste and pure and are born from the head of Brahman himself, while some are soiled, impure, having sinned, and born from the feet or the soil under the feet of this Brahman.  

Its time to reject such ideas and bring IITs and IIMs into the mainstream to include people from all backgrounds and also its time for faculty and administrators of IITs to produce good research by combining forces with Indian Industry (more about that later), instead of perpetuating the myth of ‘cream of India’.

What is merit?

If one were to follow the news and media channels in the last 15 days of reservations hungama, one would have come across this word time and again. The word ‘merit’ is defined and used as antithesis of ‘reservations’. I would like to understand what they mean by it.

‘Merit’ in the present context is being defined as the ‘scores or marks or rank’ one gets in an entrance test or in an exam before entering another degree or job. So, if one were to write IIT-JEE and get a certain rank that is considered ‘merit’. A ‘meritorious’ student is one who gets a good rank.
 
Due to extreme competition, only 1% of the students who write the JEE (Joint Entrance Examination) get to be admitted into IITs (approximately 3000 out 300,000). But having said that does that mean only the top 1% has the required qualifications and merit to carry on an IIT education? How about the guys who are in top 10%? Do they not qualify to carry on education at IIT to bring it the laurels it stands for? Compare that with any other college or institution in the world- even MIT and Harvard take in many students from top 25% and sometimes even from top 50% of the applicants. When we start giving out reservations to OBC/SC/STs that’s exactly what we do- instead of looking for candidates in top 1%, we widen the net to include the candidates in the top 10% (ranking 30,000 or so) or may be top 25% in some cases. Does that really affect an institute’s quality and performance? If it does, then there is something grossly wrong with such institutes which can only work with top 1% where it is believed that anything beyond 1% will taint and crumble the system. The snobbery of IIM and IIT professors is appalling. Some of them have said on TV that they can’t teach 'lower quality' students. If they are only good at grooming the top 1% and fail to groom top 10%, I propose they should move to countries ruled by monarchs to teach only the kids of emperors and kings. 

We are obsessed with scores so much that we are unable to see anything beyond them. Just to illustrate how we never seem to outgrow this: Just check the questions asked by Indian students in every week issue of Economic Times where this newspaper invites members of top Business Schools to answer Indian student’s questions, OR just attend any of the academic orientation or info session held by top US/Europe Business Schools in India. 95% of the questions are similar to this- “I got 7## score in GMAT. Will I get admission to your institute?” Now, all the answers from Admission Committee are the same- “The admission criterion consists of many other parameters in addition to your GMAT scores and there is no hard and fast rule to that”. The questions never change no matter how much they try to explain.

The admission criteria to top MBA schools in USA is broadly (not necessarily true for all schools) based on the following parameters: Bachelor Degree scores, essays and background information, Interview, Recommendation Letters, GMAT scores (and TOEFL if applicable), not necessarily in that order. A person with 540 score in GMAT may enter Harvard, while someone with 780 (out of 800) may be rejected- based on various parameters which include, in addition to those listed above, promoting diversity, promoting backward sections and weaker sections, etc.

An Indian brought up in India knowing that ‘merit’ is sole criteria to get admission doesn’t grasp how this admission process works. The belief system he held all his life gets punctured. Some learn to appreciate it, and some ignore it as some weird and quirky gimmick that Americans follow, and continue to assume that its “scores” which matter in the end. To them ‘merit’ (read “scores”) is inviolable and is worth fasting for and dying for. That's when another sacred entity called 'merit' joins the pantheon of many Indian sacred symbols. And it is our culture of sanctifying things that is the bane of our civilization. (more on that later!)

51 comments:

  1. Interesting views. But does blindly providing reservation to lower caste people change the way things work??

    A large percentage of 'lower castes' mentioned, comes into the top 25% are people who are lower in the name of the caste alone - not in financial matters - people who could afford better preparations for IIT-JEE or similar competitive examinations.

    I agree that if a system of scanning which encompasses diverse aspects of a student potential would be ideal as it is in the US universities. But I dont know how much the current reservation scheme would address that issue.

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  2. Sujai, agreed that there was a time when Brahmins dominated the academic landscape and other professions like law, medicine, etc. To conclude that this was entirely achieved by suppressing the ‘other castes’ is incorrect. Over centuries, Brahmins have placed emphasis on learning and memorizing methods and these techniques held them in good stead when the British introduced the western style of education in India. In fact, it could be said of the Brahmins that they were incapable or incompetent in any other field – farming, trade, etc and so it was logical that they gravitated towards academia , found their niche and gained a dominant position.

    But, tell me, why limit reservation in the field of education alone. Why not in other areas such as trading and farming?

    Communities such as the Marwaris in the North and the Chettiars in the deep South stuck to their core competence, namely trading and business, and even today control a disproportionate percentage of the commercial activity that takes place. Are we to conclude then that Brahmins have been suppressed in this field and therefore a certain percentage of the business must be reserved for them to remove the handicap that they have suffered traditionally ?. I think each community had its historical baggage and clung to what it believed it was good at, without any stigma attached.

    Historically, literacy among women has been extremely low. Very often in the past, social pressures kept them out. Do we reserve 50% of the seats for them today, to undo the damage done a century back? Or do we create an enabling social environment for them to get into the colleges on their own steam ?

    A disproportionate percentage of the cricketers in the Indian team hails from cities. There must be hundreds of Munafs and Pathans lying undiscovered in the thousands of villages in India To remove this skew, are we to assign a quota to cricketers from villages, to remove the handicap that they have long suffered?. Or should we try to create suitable infrastructure for the villagers to pick up skills, display them and get into the team on comparable merit?

    There’s no denying the fact that there have been instances of blatant casteism in the past, but in the last few decades, the system has not discriminated or disallowed access to any caste. The handicap, so to say, was removed long back. So, why create this bogey that the suppression still continues and therefore fresh reservation and quotas are necessary?

    If a single Dalit is kept out of any institution today for the fact of his being a Dalit, we must hound out the perpetrators of such crime and punish them severely. If policed properly and diligently, this will act as the biggest deterrent.

    For the Dalits to get into IITs on their own merit and with their heads held high, create conducive conditions in villages,– such as electrification, public health centres, etc- which will facilitate and motivate the young to focus on studies without being burdened with the task of having to earn the next meal. In 5-10 years, you will see dramatic results, as has been shown by experiments conducted by Grameen Bank, Bangladesh. Reservation or quota, without the element of free and open competition, will be counterproductive in the long run.

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  3. If including the top 10% instead of just 1% is a fair thing to do, well, that is fine. But why castes? Not all Brahmins are rich. There are classes of Brahmins who belong to the priests class etc who struggle for two morsels, every day. Why are they excluded from the reservations policy?

    There are rich OBCs / SCc / STs who have all the privileges that most Brahmins do not have. Why should they be given preferential treatment while an economically backward Brahmin may not get any such support?

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  4. hi
    i do agree with u dude nd i know u hav changed yr stance..
    we all hav our opinions..
    nd their is a reservation of 27% already prevelant so why 50% now.. no one is protesting against the 27% that was der bfor. its abt the new increase in reservation which i think is not reasonable.. the question is economic background nd not caste...

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  5. if a institution like iit admits only 1 % of the applicants its their infrastructure which makes them liable...
    so the problem here is in nos of seats...not the caste..
    the govt shld increase and build the oppotunies..infrsstucture..
    not just blind reservn will solve the problems..

    abt merit..?
    the govt thniks abt certain parametres and hv set them as benchmark...
    and a student who stands upto those parametres bcomes eligible..
    if u know of a better screening procedure let them know...
    reservation is not the criteria to identify the hidden skills which according to youu may blossom at a later age..when the rite combination conceive..

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  6. ".....that some castes are chaste and pure and are born from the head of Brahman himself, while some are soiled, impure, having sinned, and born from the feet or the soil under the feet of this Brahman. Its time to reject such ideas and bring IITs and IIMs into the mainstream to include people from all backgrounds and also its time for faculty and administrators of IITs to produce good research.... "

    It seems that you are completely unaware of the admission/faculty recruitment process of the IITs/IIMs. The issue of caste/Brahminism is irrelevant when JEE simply chooses the top 4000 among 2 lakhs of JEE-sitters. If you want to make that top 4000 to top 50,000 sure you are welcome to, but why do you glamorize reservation?? Choosing TOP 25% is what people call MERIT and clearly its not a myth as you yourself cite cases of MIT et al.

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  7. Dear Sujai,

    The picture that you have painted abt IITs is highly biased and reflects your views rather than the graound realities.
    I was a student of IITM a couple of years ago During my 4 yr stay I found that most of the reserved category students came from pretty well off families. And their families were were financially better than most of the general category students. My point here is that the whole concept of reservations based on caste is flawed because the benefeciaries of this concept are not the ones who actually need it. And even after they enter IIT teh performance of teh category studets is abysmal. Most of them give up in life dute to not being able to take the load of the course work.
    I would also like to recall a batchmate of mine who came from a financially very weak background. This guy used to stay in a village and did not even have basic amenities like electricity & bathroom let alone good education. But despite of these handicaps this guy made it to IIT and did pretty well academically and in co curriculars. My question to you is arent these kind of at a disadvantage and the ones who actually need reservation?
    And when you talk about the research at IITs, do u have an iota of knowledege abt what kind of work goes inside IIT. We had a group called Tenet group which was working towards bringing down the cost of telephony and communication infrastructure in india. And btw this is great achievement considering the support that r&D gets from the govt.I can go on and on about it but it would be better if you spare some time n google abt it.
    And next time when u post something better get ur facts right.

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  8. I have couple of disagreements with Sujai. I don't think you will be able to select in the top 10% or for that matter in top 25% by reservations. Often times the seat's dont get filled as you don't find candidates who even passed the entrance. Govt don't even allow to fill those seats. I have seen this happening in many Engg and Medical colleges. So the next step is to decrease the standard of the test. It's not a coincidence that you see student's continuing years to complete their degree courses are from reservation category. I remember there was a strike in some of Medical colleges in Andhra Pradesh to reduce the passing mark's or not to have tough exam. I am not going to debate reasons for their poor performance.
    Coming to US admission process, it's different. You get admission based on wide criteria. But common in a country like India do you think it will be a fair process. Corruption is so deep rooted in our blood. Politician's and influential people will find way's to be qualified. For eg. in Andhra Govt grab's the land for city expansion from small farmers (who have 1 or 2 acres, at the same time a influential neighbor with 100 acres is spared and this person will sell later 50 times more than what the poor farmer was compensated. Govt will have millions of reasons to argue)
    I have a comment about your observation of Madras IIT on brahmins. Tamil brahmins are popular in most of the top U.S universities. It's intresting a cousin of mine who was born and raised in U.S and currently doing Phd in Harvard in Physics asked me how is it that most of the professors of Indian orign or bright people he come across are tamilian brahmins?
    I feel it's more than intelligence thier discipline, commitment, simplicity for the cause for thier sucess. I am not tring to generalize but I am observed for the last 20 years several tamilian brahmins. At the same time I found several who change a lot.


    P.S I am not a brahmin, but under the new category I am an OBC. I feel this is just a political strategy to divide hindu's.

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  9. I have couple of disagreements with Sujai. I don't think you will be able to select in the top 10% or for that matter in top 25% by reservations. Often times the seat's dont get filled as you don't find candidates who even passed the entrance. Govt don't even allow to fill those seats. I have seen this happening in many Engg and Medical colleges. So the next step is to decrease the standard of the test. It's not a coincidence that you see student's continuing years to complete their degree courses are from reservation category. I remember there was a strike in some of Medical colleges in Andhra Pradesh to reduce the passing mark's or not to have tough exam. I am not going to debate reasons for their poor performance.
    Coming to US admission process, it's different. You get admission based on wide criteria. But common in a country like India do you think it will be a fair process. Corruption is so deep rooted in our blood. Politician's and influential people will find way's to be qualified. For eg. in Andhra Govt grab's the land for city expansion from small farmers (who have 1 or 2 acres, at the same time a influential neighbor with 100 acres is spared and this person will sell later 50 times more than what the poor farmer was compensated. Govt will have millions of reasons to argue)
    I have a comment about your observation of Madras IIT on brahmins. Tamil brahmins are popular in most of the top U.S universities. It's intresting a cousin of mine who was born and raised in U.S and currently doing Phd in Harvard in Physics asked me how is it that most of the professors of Indian orign or bright people he come across are tamilian brahmins?
    I feel it's more than intelligence thier discipline, commitment, simplicity for the cause for thier sucess. I am not tring to generalize but I am observed for the last 20 years several tamilian brahmins. At the same time I found several who change a lot.


    P.S I am not a brahmin, but under the new category I am an OBC. I feel this is just a political strategy to divide hindu's.

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  10. what all u have written is just a piece of crap...im not an iitian by the way..im from BITS, Pilani which proudly boasts ZERO RESERVATION till now...

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  11. But even without reservation, (in forward community) it is the IAS officers son who becomes a doctor or vice versa. The poor prohit of a village temple has to depend on the monthly income of Rs 500 and the one rupee coin we give during darshan.

    Of course, the best option will be QUALITY PRIMARY EDUCATION, but it is not as easy as you think.

    Even if you have a Don Bosco in a village, the village student is different from a affluent student.

    Tell honestly. when we were in school, you and me did only studying (and cricket, movies etc )

    But a dalit student has to clean the cow, watch the field etc. They need quota as their full time cannot be spend on education and that is why they score 1 to 2 % less than us.

    THere is a tamil saying that "Of the water you give for paddy some shall go to weed"...... (rough translations) and to prevent that we have to remove the weeds AND NOT STOP WATERING.

    Similarly there are few weeds (Rich peopel from SC PBC) . But when the reservation is not implemented, the paddy (poor people from SC/OBC)will suffer. !!!!

    We have no other go !!!

    ReplyDelete
  12. //I have seen this happening in many Engg and Medical colleges.//

    Name the college. I will inform a guy from SC who has scored 91 percent, but not got medical seat adn he can get admission there

    Please don't write up your imaginations.

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  13. You could have done a bit of background work before making such claims. for example, your postings gives an impression that research in IIT is "almost negligible".Well, I can only say something about IIT bombay as I am an undergrad there. I have seen many companies come to professors of my department (mechanical engg.) for sponsored projects and infact my guide worked with Dialmer-Chrysler for two years and patented a CAM methodology which is now licensed. Ic an cite many more examples.

    Ya sure undergrads don't do much research as all we learn is essentially the foundations of mechanical engg. Don't expect us to publish dozens of papers every year or so. And about the PG students I can't make any claims as I can't make free-wheeling assumptions as you without any prior knowledge.

    And finally, theres a strong undercurrent of bitterness in your post too. Didn't you manage to qualify the JEE? If you're an IITian then you probably wasted your four years and were with the wrong company.

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  14. interesting view. Coaching is another factor that effects your entrance in IITs. People from delhi and other big cities have obvious advantages over others.

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  15. //I have seen many companies come to professors of my department (mechanical engg.) for sponsored projects and infact my guide worked with Dialmer-Chrysler for two years and patented a CAM methodology which is now licensed. Ic an cite many more examples.//
    Please please do cite some examples, cause I would love to know! Looking forward to someone who takes the time off to do a research on the various research projects that have come to fruitition in the premier institutes of India.

    Prove someone wrong and do not simply join in the slinging match!

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  16. Similarly there are few weeds (Rich peopel from SC PBC) . But when the reservation is not implemented, the paddy (poor people from SC/OBC)will suffer. !!!!


    You say there are a few weeds, I say there is few paddy and more weeds.

    It is such a rarity that a poor OBC such as the son of a hotel server or a lorry driver to make it to a professional course, that it makes newspaper headlines and TV news. Isnt this supposed to be normal ?

    Again, precisely for this "you" vs "me" arguments we need to constitute a social study commission to exactly evaluate the OBC components (individual castes) to see what their current position in society is.

    Thankfully, with the recent SC ruling such a commission appears imminent. Wait and watch for the results of this study as it may shock you.

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  17. Narayan ParshuramMay 31, 2006 3:22 PM

    Dear Friends,
    The writer of this article is intensely confused. He seems to be getting
    himself all embroiled into the complexities of definition of merit,
    excellence, etc. The only thing that comes across very convincingly is
    that there is a lot of malice that this guy has towards a section of
    society. And in my book, the only "backward person" is a person with
    malice.

    Could this writer answer two questions: Has reservation ever been a
    solution? Could it ever be?
    How come this writer seems so sure of what happened in the Indian social
    structure 300 or 3000 years back?

    I work in a publishing house for children and we are actively involved in
    elementary school education in the area of language learning in over 400
    Konkani medium and 1000 Tamil medium schools. Our program ensures that by
    the time these kids go through 2 years of our program, they are fluent with
    spoken and written English. The child who had been designated as "backward"
    is now empowered and could perform as well or badly as any other child.
    There could be no greater insult to him than "caste based reservation".

    I am a Brahmin. My father came to earn a living in Mumbai at the age of 14
    (inspite of being in the merit list in his SSC, he could not affort to study
    further). His father was the first person in my entire lineage to see money.
    Before that living was on the basis of a barter system under the patronage
    of the Periyars, who are now in the OBC list. I have a lot of respect for
    the Periyars but am outraged at the suggestion that my forefathers oppressed
    and tortured them.
    Nevertheless, why is that we seem to be so sure of what happened 300 years
    back, or in the case of Sitaram Yechury, 3000 years back?

    My company is listed in the top 25 publishers for children in the world and
    very recently we found out (in response to a memo from the Jayalalitha
    Government) that 75% of our employees are from the so called "backward
    caste"!!!
    Until now, no one was "upper" or "backward" in my mind.
    But now I am convinced that people who insult the Ishwara in the human
    being, such as this writer, are truly "backward".

    Narayan Parasuram
    Karadi Tales Company Pvt. Ltd.
    (022) 25226809 / (0) 9322126809
    www.karaditales.com

    ReplyDelete
  18. Different StrokesJune 01, 2006 3:30 PM

    Going by the discussion here, there seem to be some common threads like:
    i) There appear to be just two section of people, one who are against reservationa and some other who favour by going back to past atrocities.
    ii) Merit is the common cause for those who are against reservation and they want it to be based on financial status rather than on caste, it has to exist.
    iii) Section who support reservation want it because of much of oppression faced earlier and discrimination faced now.
    iv) People still talk in terms of backwards and upper-castes.

    Here are some of my observations:

    i) It seems that India has two Indias within it. One India wants merit for admission and jobs and does not want quota and if the quota has to be forced upon , the criteria should be economic status rather than caste.
    ii) There is a constant mention of the fact that quota seats remain vacant.
    iii) If one can generalise, than from the comments it appears that
    reserved seat candidates do not have merit in the context of admissions and jobs. And that for quota seats only people who are financially sound are getting qualified.I do not know whether same thing is happening for general seats.
    iv) Now imagine, the section who is for the merit, with in the framework of this discussion, is no more there, will the issue of merit be still existing? Because it appears from the discussion that people who compete for reserved seats are less meritorious than people who compete for general seats.
    v) If in general, the people who compete for reserved seats are less meritorious than there is no benefit of giving them quota because they will remain less meritorious anyways.
    vi) Why there is clear demarcation between two section in terms of merit as it is alleged? Is some factor working here?
    vii) If the answer to reservation is good primary education than why it has never been thought upon? Do the people of India and politicians in particular are so short-sighted as not to have this common-sense or they are narrow-minded to just think about themselves.

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  19. [antaryami:] You have mixed up way too many orthogonal issues! E.g. what is the connection between undergraduate and graduate education quality at IITs?! Good students don't stay back to do PhDs at IITs because of the economic situation, so why are you blaming IITs for it?

    Your analysis has too many such wrong conclusions, and hence it is flawed.

    Also, IITs may be one-tracked but they are successful in that. If you want to cater to other goals (such as selection based on criteria other than JEE marks), why not start a new institute or upgrade some institute that is not doing well? (Don't call it IIT, build its own brand name!)

    Do I see a case of "sour grapes" for not having gotten into IIT? Why are ïntellectuals such as yourself so keen on tearing down the one institution that has built up meritocracy? How much reservations do you practise in your company??

    - [antaryami]

    ReplyDelete
  20. Suresh_Sharma@ntlworld.comJune 02, 2006 2:53 PM

    PLIGHT OF PRESENT DAY BRAHMINS AND UPPER CASTE HINDUS

    Please check out the links below:
    http://in.news.yahoo.com/060530/139/64neh.html
    http://www.deccan.com/home/homedetails.asp#Brahmins%20seek%20‘Dalit%20jobs’

    I started writing my views on affirmative action and reservations but has not finished yet.may post it later

    in summary
    1 I am for affirmative action to a level where a person can compete on an equal footing. Not for all his life and generations thereafter.

    2. against caste system. Brahmins may have created it but they were not instrumental in sustaining it, it was a hierarchical system in which all but the lowest castes saw some benefits in terms of giving them a livelihood. It is a historical and cultural baggage that has no place in 21st century.

    3. In favour of an independent evaluation of caste based reservation policy. We all accept that it has worked in favour of Lower castes but its future roadmap needs to be defined. Surely the criteria for reservations in present day Punjab cannot be the same as for present day Bihar.

    4. No place for caste/religion in politics

    5. I apologise for wrong doings by my ancesters but it is time to look at it in the light of present day. the articles below provide some food for thought.

    6. With a billion population the real battle is between the 'have' and 'havenots'

    7. The word 'caste' needs to removed for us to have a casteless society.

    8. Economics based reservations can be just as effective in helping the poor lower caste Hindus and will satisfy both pro and anti reservationists. research needed to back it



    *****************Articles reproduced below

    http://in.news.yahoo.com/060530/139/64neh.html
    Tuesday May 30, 01:59 PM
    Lucknow Brahmins seek sweepers' job, lower-castes oppose it

    Lucknow, May 30 (ANI): Contrary to the quota proposal meant for the upliftment of backward and lower castes, Brahmins, who are considered superior to all other castes, in Lucknow are now seeking jobs as sweepers, an occupation traditionally meant for the lowest in the caste hierarchy.

    Brahmins here have applied for jobs with civic authorities, inviting the wrath of low-caste candidates, who fear it would slash their opportunities for lower-level jobs.

    "They (Brahmins) get enrolled but they never do the menial jobs. They cannot do it. We are protesting against the Corporation as it will mar our employment opportunities, which has been our job for ages. What will we do if they take away our jobs?" said Shyam Lal Valmiki, President, Sweepers' Association.

    But the Brahmin candidates, say they were forced to enroll themselves for these jobs in the absence of any employment opportunities.

    According to official, over 6000 candidates have applied for the jobs of sweepers of which 1607 are Brahmins.

    "We need jobs. There is so much unemployment in the country that people want jobs irrespective of the fact whether they should or should not do as per the caste system," said Rajendra Shukla, an upper caste candidate.

    V.P. Singh, Commissioner of Lucknow Municipal Corporation said though the reserved category can apply for the unreserved seats, the opposite couldn't happen.

    "Even in the reserved category there are certain norms which have to be followed. We have come to know that there are Brahmins who have applied for the post. We will look into the matter," Singh said.

    Although no job is reserved for any category of the society, some of the lower level jobs in state-run organisations are kept for socially underprivileged.

    Despite the fact that caste discrimination is banned in India, the ancient Hindu social system remains a cause of tension and even violence in rural areas.

    Hindu scriptures separate people into four broad categories - Brahmin or priests, warriors, traders and labourers, while rest fall outside the framework of caste system. (ANI)
    ***********************************************************************8

    http://www.deccan.com/home/homedetails.asp#Brahmins%20seek%20‘Dalit%20jobs’
    Brahmins seek ‘Dalit jobs’


    Lucknow, June 1: It could be fire in the belly or simply the necessity to survive, but a quiet social revolution has begun unfolding in several cities of Uttar Pradesh, where brahmins and upper caste Hindus are applying for posts of sanitary workers, known as “safai karamcharis.” The posts of sanitary workers, on an ad hoc basis, were recently advertised in several towns and cities and, for the first time, the applicants include members of the brahmin community in large numbers.
    “There are vaishyas and kayasthas too who have applied for the post of safai karamchari but the number of brahmin applicants is sizeable,” says an Agra Nagar Nigam official.
    Udit Sharma and Suraj Misra, both young graduates, are among the applicants for the post of safai karamchari in Agra. “We have been looking for jobs for the past two years but we have failed to get one so far. We need to earn our living, and so we thought we might as well work as safai karamcharis here,” says Udit Sharma.
    Suraj Misra’s mother, Savitri Misra, has already warned her son that if he goes ahead with the job, he would be shown the door and, the family would have to face social ostracism. But Suraj is not perturbed. “I am not bothered about society and relatives because no one came forward to help us when my sister’s engagement broke off due to paucity of funds. I need a job and any job will do. Once I start earning, everything else will fall into place,” he says.
    The chief development officer at Sitapur, Tahir Iqbal, admits that the upper caste candidates who have applied for the jobs of safai karamcharis appear determined to get the job. “There is a long list of Misra, Shukla, Tripathi and Tiwari candidates who have applied for these posts and they are eagerly waiting to get selected,” he said. One of the candidates who spoke on condition of anonymity said: “It is better to become a scavenger than to become a criminal. If I do not get this job, I may have to take to crime to fend for my family, which is dependent on me for a square meal.”
    In Kanpur, the number of educated upper caste applicants for the safai karamchari posts is around 38 per cent of the total number of applications, “There are some applicants who are postgraduates while others in this category are graduates,” says Dr J.P. Gupta, senior health officer. In Lucknow too, there are upper caste applicants for the job that was till now considered to be reserved for Dalits. “One such applicant told this correspondent: “If I get this job, it will fetch me around Rs 2,200 every month and this will help me pay for the education of my younger brother who is a second-year medical student. Besides, my work as a safai karamchari will finish by noon and no one will hopefully know what I am doing.”

    ReplyDelete
  21. Dear Anonymous:
    First. I am fighting the concept that there are 'good' students. If an institute cannot train its students coming from various backgrounds and produce same good results, then there is a problem with that institute.

    Are 'good' students leaving IITs because of economy? Then, why are they going to IIMs and IISc?

    What is meritocracy?
    Isn't the root cause of caste-based discrimination a reflection of meritocracy?

    ReplyDelete
  22. It is true that IIT is not proving worth in research. But how come NUS which was not known in top univs list recently emerged in to top univs. govt is funding univ for research, the students were getting global exposure, those grads were also mentally matured to take challanges not like u blaming people(indians). go and read bhagavatgita .....do ur work ......
    compared to the research community among the indian Univs IITs are better.thats why so many gards from NITs and anna univs were doing post grad and PhDs here.
    I dunno y he is dragging PGs in US there are many sponsorhip not only from the govt and also from private sector which has big R & D dept. wats in india...except the people who always critize others.

    ReplyDelete
  23. Did you really do your MBA at Univ of Chicago? Looks like you have confused a lot of stuff.

    First if you are going to compare the research and publishing of an IIT against a good US university, you should also compare the funding that is available for research. Most good US engineering schools have research budgets in millons of dollars in addition to donated equipment. I don't think the IITs have anywhere close even a million dollar research budget.

    Harvard's, Yales and Stanfords don't admit everybody in the undergraduate class. The students usually have to be in the top 10-15% of the class if you are a minority student, but for Asians they have to be in the top 1-2% of the class. Also, they are not purely engg or science schools and usually people with lower scores graduate with arts degrees.

    Compare apples to apples and not apples to oranges

    If you want to justify reservation, come with something more sensible.

    Note: I am not a IITan, nor a brahmin.

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  24. Firstly you seem to have targetted the faculty selection process of all IIT's, saying most professors are Brahmins. Here's the deal:nobody qualified enough to be a professor in IIT actually wants to be, considering they get paid one fifth the starting salaries of their own BTech students.So obviously the selection committee would go more on the merit of the available candidate instead of trying to ensure the caste diversity you think is missing.And IIT already has a 27% reservation...the contribution of these students to campus life is debatable, as explained further on.
    Secondly, while im not denying that there are people who have an edge if their parents can afford JEE coaching, if you look at the students entering each year you will find that the majority come from small towns, and got in by preparing on their own. And im not talking about last-rankers, but the people who make it to top disciples like CSE and EEE. And i fail to why something like religion should get in the way of your professional life.
    You raised the point about research.Yes, its valid, the IIT's do not rank very high as far as research output goes. But the situation has been changing(several students do very creditable work, as their BTech or MTech projects, and even in technology incubation units they join after graduation).For understaffed institutions already forced to take in more and more students every year due to the increasing number of people appearing for the exam, extensive research such as carried out by IISc or TIFR isnt possible, not yet anyway. the foucs of IIT is on teaching, not research. But your claim that they produce absolutely nothing of value themselves is grossly incorrect, i suggest you check out the web-sites of the IIT's.
    But i digress from the point i wanted to make here. You say IITs should be brought into the mainstream, and this can be done by reservations. here's the story of almost every student who makes it to IIT on the current reservations quota: Several courses failed, as there is either a singular lack of interest in the curriculum, or simply the groundwork required to keep pace is missing (that is the difference between the "meritorious" and "non-meritorious" by the way, who did their groundwork in school so they can grasp what is being taught in class). eventually these students finish their course in 5 or 6 years, and then try for IAS, where they qualify THROUGH THE QUOTA SYSTEM. It is a crutch they can lean on for life. someone who can make it to IIT certainly cannot claim any longer that he is under-privileged in matters of education and requires a concession. Then there is ofcourse the issue that the students using the quota come from families much more privileged that several general category students, which has already been raised here.
    Nobody's denying that there are backward sections, and they require help. make reservations in primary education, and base them on the economic strength of a family. Everyone is on a more or less equal footing from that level, and there is no need for reservations further up. But s the end of the day, its Darwinism that must be the rule of thumb,"Survival of the fittest".
    Also, in order to incorporate more factors going into college selection, as done by US universities, you would have to revamp the system from its grass-roots...I'm not saying it shouldn't be done, but i think its unfair to hold the IIT's responsible as sole perpertrators of this system.
    As far as your accusation of snobbery against professors go...they want to teach people who have already been brought up to a certain level, decided by the JEE. They do teach even the people who make it through the various quotas, and have found them lacking, not in intelligence but in preparation. And your conclusion that they believe that students apart from the top 1% will crumble the institution is entirely fallicious. Give the IIT's enough hostel accomodation, enough faculty and infrastructure, and they'll take in even the top 25%. But dont expect them to take in everyone...they are an elitist institution and will remain that way. I see nothing amiss in that, considering that every nation has its own elitist institutions, such as Oxford, Cambridge and the Ivy League. I rather admire our's for sticking to a single condition for admission, merit as decided by them, as opposed to large amounts of money, as done by institutions across the world.

    ReplyDelete
  25. Anonymous,

    Your argument that our merit system is better than that in the Western universitites and that "large amounts of money" decides merit there is specious.

    In the US, universities look for allround personalities. They ask not just for test scores but a statement of purpose, a resume, atleast two letters of recommendation from past teachers/professors/employers etc., certificates of past achievements be it in sports, cultural activities, social work or anything else that may provide more information about your personality. They study each applicant thoroughly and only decide to admit those who they think can finish the course. This is refreshingly different from our system where the definition of merit, shockingly, is just a number called rank and nothing else. And as for your statement about money, surely we have to pay heavy fees but all have to and not just foreign students.

    If the IITs are "meritocracies", then they must adopt a similar, if not exactly the same, process of admission, where merit is decided on qualities other than just a number, in addition... that is, IF they care so much for that divine quality of merit, a word over which they virtually seemed to be claiming a copyright.

    Surely such a process can be adopted in admissions to the IITs, when a similar process is being employed for admission to the IIMs?

    It would make more sense to admit a student who's got the 1000th rank and has got a far more diverse personality than a student who's got the 1st rank but is a dud, one all who can do is just crunch numbers and solve math, physics, chemistry problems but has no other dimension to his personality.

    If the IITs have got the best brains in the country, then let them come up with an admission process which is not utterly simplistic and is based on a single number. In fact, by admitting students based on a single number, it can be said that such institutes are just escaping a duty they have seem to have set for themselves, safeguarding merit, that is.

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  26. Union Minister for Communications and Information Technology Dayanidhi Maran expressed the hope that Tamilnadu would get one more IIT. MHRD can make it into RIIT considering the passion for reservation in tamilnadu. Next you can expect Health minister Dr Anbumani (AIIMS would like to call him Hatemani) announcing that Tamilnadu will get a AIIMS with the aim of 100% reservation.

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  27. "Myth Of Merit" is being explained on almost every pro reservation blog.

    Some questions come to mind though.

    1. Is this line of thought even relevant?

    2. If "Merit" was defined by any other criterion , (Anything that pleases the pro reservationists) would you think the situation of the OBCs/BCs be any different than what it is today?

    3. Would redefing merit suddenly result in appropriate representation of the oppressed classes?

    Nobody bothers to explain why they think that current definition of merit is not good enough and how an alternate definition would benefit the BC/OBCs. I hope you will...because I am in love with your clear style of writing!!

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  28. I have posted my views on the myth of "myth of merit" at
    http://politeindian.wordpress.com/2006/08/21/myth-of-the-myth-of-merit-reservation-context/

    Do drop by and let me know what you think.

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  29. It is true, but the root cause for this misconception is the narrow mindset of our traditional families which teachs a child right from primary school days that your marks in exams shows how much respect you will get in society and failing to do so will leave you nowhere.

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  30. I would like to cite an examply on my own and would like to see if there is any response from obc/sc/st or in favour of those.

    Me and my school collegue were of same capabilities ( both were competeive and get ahead of other in different classes, in fact I was considered little better than him and I actually was, as also shown by the marks we used to get in IIT coaching ).Financially his father was a Senior Manager in same company , in which mine was a clerk and the company had offered a much much better house to them for stay, than to us. being in lower cast he understood that he can get thru IIT, and worked hard for only 1 month before IIT Jee ( which doesn't works for general casts) and got a top rank in IIT , and later also done his MBA from IIM A. and earning huge salaries now in US, while after many years I am still thinking of getting thru some good college like ISB ( but then fees is a issue). He always had been enjoying a much better life , even from his birth, and in same town as mine( not any remote backward village) ,then why do he got the reservation and what the hell he is of any help to any backward Indian society , working at US permamnantly. I might not have got through IIT even otherwise, but am sure there would have been a person at least who was 10 times better than him, economically poor, and even socially poor who didn't got through. Most of these SC/ST/OBCs feel very happy when they could get thrugh using this 'idiotic' system and it is the General caste person , who then actually feels backward to these "official backward" caste. This is not a joke, we remain much behind / backward throughout our life as compare to them just because our surname was not ...........

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  31. hi , just came across your blog. i am a brahmin but i am all for reservations if done in limit and judiciously.
    For those who say that some brahmins are poor, etc.. well, reservations were created bcos after 3000 years of systematic exploitation, dalits are psychologically, socially and gennetically not capable of competing with us. maybe arjusn singh did it for political reasons.. but the bitterness with which upper castes[12% of populatiion] opposed it is bound to cause unrest among majority of our population

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  32. Another illogical and inconsistent blog!!

    -IITs are engg schools.. not universties.. so it's all about math, physics and chemistry!
    -there are only so many seats.. you can't complain if they can't admit everyone!! the only solution is to have more engg schools with IIT tag if that satisfies anyone!
    -u talk about people entering IIT through JEE and then talk about the research output!! firstly, people taking JEE just do their undergrad.. not grad studies in IIT
    secondly, money is the key! was for any large scale engg achievements.. now with less capital intensive computerization, they do better..
    -US universities - diff social backgrounds account for less than 5% in most cases (and they include not just engg)... compared to IIT which has 22.5% res.
    -competition is another key.. no good background in schools.. bound to be difficult in the college!

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  33. the lone sailor:

    You write:

    -IITs are engg schools.. not universties.. so it's all about math, physics and chemistry!

    Does calling them 'engineering schools' and not 'universities' change the way these institutes should be looked at? Just because they are not called universities, they need not produce research?

    Look at the funds allocated to these institutes for research.

    Also, which other Indian school/university/institute have premier MS and Ph.D. programs (other than IISc)?

    Where should the research come from if not these institutes?

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  34. Where is Nehru??
    The IITs are Engineering colleges.

    One needs to remember that not everyone who puts in an effort in IIT exams get into IITs (Thats what you call competition). Hats off to the IIT graduates for their efforts for themselves.

    There are many more things happening in academics and day to day life. Think broad.

    We need such(even tougher) exams for our politicians.
    We need people with honesty and GUTS(I do not know if IITs teach that).

    The 'intelligence' of the students is surely tested well at the IITs but not their 'wisdom'.

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  35. Indians always want the Degree from premium institut and the consequent high paying job. They dont want the quality education/ research oppurtunities/ method of coaching and all such small matters to bother their mind.

    Indians generally get what they want. Whether in IITs or in Local College of Engineering. Also they get the degree and high pay with MNCs in India as well as US. They then get married with a lot of freebies a marriage offers, esp bcos the degree and high paying job is already there. This happens for all the people irrespective of caste or religion.

    Why then bother about quality and foundations. We are born to do cheap labour. Whether for British Raj or for the MNC Software companies. When people do not bother about the quality of work they are doing (Cheap or otherwise) it does not matter where they come from or which caste they belong to.

    Am I the only confused person in this country? Everyone else seems so sure abt everything!

    Destination Infinity.

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  36. sujai,
    you have some good points to say, but thats all you have, please give some solutions also ,just ranting about problems is not going to do anything. I dont know if you have solutions but if you do have post them too because your blog is not worth reading if all that you were doing was whining about all that's wrong

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  37. It is not about justice anymore. It is nothing but political opportunism at the cost of half of Indian population that is the so called upper caste. As a student from the so called upper caste family with an annual income of Rs 40,000 , my blood boils when I see so called OBCs and SC/STs with more money in their pockets studying for free in my institute just because of their caste.They get in with very low marks in the entrance too. Some of them try to justify it by saying that upper castes did the same to them and now they are giving it back. If this is so then I assure you that my children and their children will fight back and restore to us what was rightfully ours. This is a promise of a poor student belonging to the so-called upper caste. Either my caste will be in OBC list like the Rajputs and Jats or we will spill blood on the streets.

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  38. Sujai's article reflects his anger on condition of "poor" low caste people in our country who cant afford such institutions, but at the same time he want "non poor" low caste people also to enjoy benefits of reservation.
    fact is that "non poor" low caste people who can afford such education are only dominating in their reserved category, depriving "poor" low caste students of their rights.
    you said IITs should consider top 10% students like US Universities. On what basis??? on basis of ones caste??? US varsities have been considering other criteria such as essay writing, academics performance etc which all judge a person according to his talent. you want IITs to consider top 10% on basis of caste. Is caste a talent???
    Do you think we would have won T20 world cup if composition of our cricket team had been like this- 5 players general category, 3 from OBC, 2 from SC and 1 from ST????
    will our cricket team compete at international level if some talented cricketers like rohit sharma or yuvraj singh are deprived of their place to accommodate some reserved category cricketer whose performance is below theirs????

    The only thing that you stated is that non poor low caste should dominate and keep enjoying reservation because it is their "talent" in your point of view.

    I am not against reservation but i want some deserving poor candidates to get advantage of it. which is not a reality.

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  39. Hi Sujai,

    I completely agree with your stand on reservation. I myself was a staunch anti reservationist when in college, engaging in debates, signing petitions and all. But seeing the realities of life has made me change my views. I recently came across your blog and was happy to see someone whose views so closely resemble my own. I hope more people understand the point you are trying to convey.

    ReplyDelete
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    ReplyDelete
  41. "Reservation is bullshit!" IMO.Why?Because it gives free access to some section of the society who do not want to work for a better life.They just need to get everything for free.The whole idea of waork makes them sweat.But they dont want to sweat for a living.They know that there are people out their who can be hoodwinked into believing that these poor,miserable,backward castes are sooo utterly lacking in everything that they should be provided everything free of cost.In reality all these so called backward castes are living in such high levels of luxury and economic stability that they never even care to do even the jobs that they get for free.
    Dont think i am just speculating.I have friends who are in the reservation category who flaunt it like trophies.Anywhere you go be it education,health care,jobs anywhere there is even a hint of making some easy money they want reservation.So that they can enjoy the freebies while we the "unreserved" class toil it out.Heyy come on dont lie to yourself.You know it is the truth.
    With that said I would like to point out that there are exceptions to this too.A very small number of these highly privileged class do make good use of the facilities that the society has provided them and do reciprocate in some way.But that is a very very small minority.

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  42. Dear Sujai,
    As a student of an IIT, I feel you are being very biased against my college. Please take my institution for its face value i.e: the success of its alumni in various fields as opposed to the hype and myth created around it. I believe economic reservations in primary and secondary schools is the way forward. Caste Reservations only benefit the spoiled cream of the society. My SC friend, who is as privileged as I am got a better deal than me despite us being on the same level. Most quota people in my college are affluent and I dont see the fire in the belly which you would expect from poor low caste student in them. They constitute the largest group of people who fail courses.
    What I am trying to say is that, caste reservations are horrible. There is no justification for them whatsoever. I believe only in the equality of oppurtunity, not the equality of people. Therefore we should provide financial and legal help to economically weaker sections irrespective of caste. An ideal society will have no mention of caste at all.

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  43. Pravin Sharma:

    As a student of an IIT, I feel you are being very biased against my college.

    Sorry if you feel that way. I am very critical of Indian premier institutions, Indian democratic institutions, Indian corporate, and many other things.

    An ideal society will have no mention of caste at all.

    Agree.

    But we do not live in that world. We can say that in an ideal world there should not discrimination, or that there should be no handicapped person, but in real world we have these. We have to deal with them squarely.

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  44. Honest Criticism is always good as it helps to improve things and root out deficiencies. But this post was more like an emotional rant.

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  45. Pravin Sharma:

    I guess we differ on what we think is 'honest criticism' then.

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  46. What a load of BS.. When a know-nothing gets a forum and is given serious consideration, I guess this is what happens. Sujai, why dont you try building a company or even farming an acre and selling your produce. You will know what it takes to make something productive out of nothing. What is merit? It is the capability to succeed and it as NOTHING to do with caste.

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  47. Jina says: About this term 'Brahmin', it was originally intended to refer to one who has realised or one with the Brahman or on the path. Now, people who are either classified by the system or call themselves as 'Brahmins' are not at all into spiritual research, but are into mundane research through IITs and such. So, first of all let us do away with this misleading reference and instead refer to them as 'Iyers', 'Iyengars' and such. Let only those who are systematically initiated into a spiritual path by a realised guru (irrespective of what family they are born of) be referred to as brahmin or brahmachari or brahmacharini. This is as it was originally intended.

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  48. there are a few things which cannot be stopped once it has began-earthquakes,tsunamis,volcanic eruptions and RESERVATIONS.

    i hope everyone knows about the iitjee craze in india.each coaching institute demands some 1-3 lakh rupees per year apart from other issues such as transportation fees(for me it is 1300 rs. a month)and book fees.if a person is able to manage these costs,you still call him as a SC\ST and provide him reservation.

    what is the use of reservation if the really oppressed people are not even able to enroll their children into primary schools.

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  49. Sujai, after reading your articles on reservation the real fun starts when starting to read the comments. The same old stereotypical mugged up questions :D (Which indeed is what you tried to prove with your article ;)).

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  50. this article is not well written or thought out. casteism and reservation prevents indians from being equal. have reservation on economic critera (below a certain amount). that should do it...
    this sort of reservation/social engineering will never work. nations of today that are suvvessful were built on individual merit. when will we learn!!!!

    ReplyDelete

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