Friday, June 30, 2006

Indian tech quotas irk alumni

Politicians will not stop before IITs, IIMs, AIIMS, and other top Indian schools are reduced to the level of politicized third-rate colleges, and the achievements of Indian middle class students who built these brands over 50 years of hard work is sent down the drain.

Garbage attracts garbage; idiots attract idiots. India has elected idiots to rule the country, and they will do everything possible to attract idiots and repel smart people out of the country.

From the Toronto Star:
Indian tech quotas irk alumni

Plan seeks to help lower caste groups
It would dilute the `brand,' one says

Jun. 30, 2006. 04:36 AM

India's plan to boost the admissions quota to 50 per cent for lower caste groups into the country's elite Indian Institutes of Technology will "cheapen" their world-recognized brand of excellence, say IIT alumni who met in Mississauga on the weekend.

"It's really a political hot potato right now," said Arjun Malhotra, co-chair of the IIT alumni's global board of directors, and CEO of Headstrong, a consulting company based in Fairfax, Va.

"The alumni are upset because they feel it will dilute the brand if you interfere with the foundation of meritocracy as the way into an ITT. This is not the way a society can go forward."

The quota issue was high on the agenda for 400 delegates at the annual conference of IIT alumni in North America, the first time the meeting has been held in Canada. There are about 130,000 IIT alumni worldwide, including 2,000 in Canada.

Although the caste system was officially banned in India after independence in 1947, it lingers even today. To uplift the lowest castes, including the Dalits or untouchables, India started a policy of reserving 22 per cent of government jobs and spots for them in state colleges and schools, including the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, the Indian Institutes of Management as well as the IITs, which were started in 1951.

The scheme has helped many from lower castes, including Narendra Jadhave, the chief economist of the Reserve Bank of India and India's President A.P.J. Kalam, a scientist who led the country's nuclear program.

Now the government wants to boost the quota by another 28 per cent to include other lower caste groups such as cowherds, leather workers and butchers, whom it sees as economically disadvantaged.

The proposal, which has the support of all political parties and could be implemented by the start of the next academic year, prompted a 19-day strike by medical students and interns last month in India.

Himanshu Singh, a 1996 IIT graduate who now works in sales for Hewlett Packard in Toronto, dismisses the move to boost the quota as a "vote-grabbing exercise."

If India truly wants to create a level playing field for its socially and economically disadvantaged people, the government should invest more heavily in primary and secondary education so that they can compete on par for admission to the country's elite universities, says Singh.

Of 202 million children who enter the country's 1 million public schools every year, only 14 million go on to graduate from high school, says a report from the Pratham foundation.

India's focus on post-secondary education "has led to a paradoxical situation where the country can launch a satellite into space and test a nuclear bomb while half the population is naked and hungry and living on the fringes," says Singh.

With more than 300,000 applications for about 3,000 first-year seats, gaining admission to an IIT — there are seven in the country, including in Mumbai, New Delhi, Kanpur, Kharagpur, Chennai, Roorkee and Guwahati — is akin to winning the lottery, says Rahul Mehrotra, a manager with Transocean in Houston, Texas.

"Absolutely it's elitist, but in a good sense. It's one of the few institutions in India that is incorruptible. It doesn't matter who your dad is or how much money your family has, you all had to come through the same rigorous exam system. Getting in is a badge of honour."

Graduates are heavily recruited by major Indian and international companies and the best in their class typically command starting salaries of more than $100,000 U.S.

In response to demand from employers in India and abroad, the government also plans to add several more IITs in quick succession, a move that will further tarnish the reputation for excellence, alumni say.


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