Four months ago I didn’t know what a blog was. I heard about it, but I never read a blog nor wrote one. Now, after posting my thoughts on the ‘reservations issue’, I am beginning to see its impact. Dr. B. Ananthanarayan invited me to one of their discussion on ‘Reservations’ at IISc campus today. There, I met another blog friend, Dr. Abinandanan T.A of IISc.
It was my first time to IISc and it was nice to be there- they were very hospitable. The panel members were Dr. C.T. Kurien (Renowned Economist), Dr. V.K. Nataraj (Former Direstor, MIDS, Chennai), and Mr. Anant Koppar (President, Mphasis Technologies).
Kurien and Nataraj supported reservations-based-on-caste in principle while Anant expressed his anti-reservation stand. It was very interesting to listen to Kurien. I knew about him and now I got a chance to hear him speak his thoughts. I had read articles by Nataraj in THE HINDU. I had known about Anant in the entrepreneurial ci
The questioning session was open to everyone and some asked very concerned questions about topics they were passionate about. However, some students reflected a certain sense of innate arrogance in their questions. It was unfortunate that Kurien was asked some questions in a rather demeaning manner. Please, don’t misunderstand me here- I am not a supporter of sanctity, but people need to learn to respect other people how much ever they differ. A lady asked why we are bent on polluting esteemed institutions like IITs and IIMs. It is rather unfortunate that she should use words like ‘pollute’. This is the exact mindset we are trying to fight in this country through imposition of reservations. And Anant went on to say that most of the schools in rural in
However, the way Kurien and Nataraj kept the audience interested was impressive. They were eminent speakers who spoke at lengths on our responsibility acknowledging inherent flaws in the system. Kurien gave statistics of Tamil Nadu Medical Entrance results to show how OBC/SC/STs are closing the gap with other upper castes. Abinandanan asked whether it is time to roll back some of the reservations in the state of Tamil Nadu. I think it is a very valid proposition.
Nataraj spent some time to dispel our notions of ‘merit’ and said that it has now become an ‘ideology’ that upper castes use to continue their monopoly. I am trying to find the quote that he used to define ideology (from Karl Mannheim) but I am unable to get the right quote.
There were some in the audience who ridiculed reservations by quoting some jokes floating in the internet these days- like how Indian Cricket team should have reservations and how we should reduce the boundary for a SC/ST/OBC and so on. To which Natarajan pointed out that it is a very sensitive matter and that we should not trivialize the matter this way.
I strongly resent and contest using
First, ‘Survival of the Fittest’ is not the favored term by evolutionists and biologists. They prefer to use terms like natural selection or sexual selection. Humans do not necessarily apply natural selection in their day-to-day life. They take care of their weak instead of leaving them in nature to die. Second, it applies to biological situations and should not be used to explain sociological situations (unless it has a bearing). Third, it happens over millions of years and cannot be used in narrow scheme of things.
Mutations happen all the time, but very few mutations survive- only if they provide a new advantage without compromising all other millions of advantages accrued over millions of years. Such successful mutations happen at a snail-pace, happening over thousands or millions of years, and are transferred onto next generations.
Humans fight natural selection. And that makes them civilized. Otherwise, why do we have hospitals and medical treatment? May be, we should let nature takes it toll to remove these weak from our gene pool to make our species better and stronger? Such arguments are not applicable and should not enter our discussions. It may come as surprise and disappointment to many pseudo-intellectuals who try to use this theory to explain domination of a group, nation or a race, but most humans are extremely similar at genetic level compared to many other species on this planet. The variation between two individuals in most other mammal species is far greater than what is found between any two individuals in humans. There is a greater agreement between geneticists and anthropologists that we all may have come from one single mother. That does not mean that there were no other women at that time. It only means that progeny of all other women have not survived.
Natural Selection is a biological theory to explain evolution of individuals that spawn new species, genus (or higher order) level. We should not use such theories to make our case on merit however desperate we are. It will unnecessarily be picked up by credulous youth and ignorant media and will be often repeated to make it a truth much to the annoyance of those who know the subject.
Anant also justified how merit is important in a business organization. Otherwise standards will not be maintained in business, he maintains. I would like to look at some criterion for merit in industry because this is how we promote our people in business.
· Team work
I have not been exhaustive in providing the list. It’s a feeble attempt to capture some of the attributes of an engineer (only for this discussion) that make him successful in corporate world. A person is promoted based on some of the above attributes. This promotion has nothing to do with what he obtained in Mathematics, Physics and Chemistry some years ago. Good scores in an entrance test like JEE or in B.Tech course does not necessarily guarantee that he will be a good engineer. In the same way, a poor B.Tech score or lower entrance score does not mean he will be a bad engineer. Industry provides with numerous examples on how scores do not matter. How do we measure accountability, responsibility and integrity? These values may never be measured in an entrance test. But these attributes do play a major role in the success of an engineer.
I request someone/anyone from the Indian industry to step up and enlighten me on the following because I belong to the same industry and for some reason I do not seem to understand their concept of merit.
Top IT companies of
02 June 2006]:
Some have commented that ‘natural selection’, the term accepted by most biologists compared to the term ‘survival of the fittest’, works only at individual level, whereas I indicated in my blog above that it may also work at species level. Even the biologists are divided on this topic. Yes, the most popular unit of selection is individual, I stand corrected, but nevertheless the other units (like species) also have some following. What is agreed is that this ‘natural selection’ doesn’t apply to our topic of discussion above, namely, merit.
Wikipedia has to say this:
A unit of selection is a biological entity within the hiera
Natural selection could be happening at different levels.
1. Selection at the level of individual organism – purported by Charles Darwin (most popular)
2. Selection at the level of the group – put forth by V.C. Wynne-Edwards
3. Selection at the level of the gene – supported by Richard Dawkins
4. Selection at the level of the cell – proposed by Leo Buss
5. Species selection and selection at higher taxonomic levels – supported by S.J. Gould