Sunday, December 17, 2006

India land of reservations & quotas

The L.S. has cleared the OBC quota bill providing for 27% reservation for them.

As it is there is reservation for SCs and STs and now even OBCs.

With educational institutions fast becoming a playground of the ‘quota regime’, the students that they will churn out may not be of the highest quality. It has been known for long that students with less marks get admitted only because they fit into some ‘class’ and deserving students have to fend for themselves since seats become unavailable.

Instead of pumping in money to build new institutes and more state or national level universities, the govt. finds the ‘quota regime’ option more helpful. Since it keeps the govt. coffers under strings and helps the various political parties play hopscotch with the electorate by propping one section against another.

After the Sachar committee report about the dismal state of Muslim education and their general backwardness, the govt. is contemplating even more reservations and quotas now for Muslims at all levels including education, jobs and polity.

The UPA govt. at the centre led by Congress has always been known to be pro-Muslim since the post independence partition of the on communal lines. The policy to appease the different religious/ethnic/racial classes has ever since been the mantra. It has always well executed the ‘divide & rule’ policy inherited courtesy of British India with unfailing accuracy.

So we had Prime Minister Manmohan Singh advocating quotas for Muslims too on the recommendation of the report panel. Rightly debunked by the Left and BJP (Although it must be noted that if they were in power, they might choose a similar approach!)

With the Sachar panel proposing a totally farcical idea like placing Madrassa ‘degrees’ on par with our school systems! And also making them eligible for higher educational qualifications like engineering etc.

Refer TOI Sunday Special report dated December 10, 2006 “Hunger is in the syllabus” by Mohammed Wajihuddin. I quote “under the observant eyes of a maulvi, in a claustrophobic, overcrowded class, they must cover eight subjects that include outdated logic (if a=b=c=d, then a=d) and philosophy of the medieval period.”

How will these students cope with engineering level math?

If they know not what sine, cosine or tangent mean or basic identities; or for that matter higher level algebra, they will have a high drop out rate inspite of getting admissions under quota.

Instead of instituting workable grassroots level education reforms in them, thus rescuing students from regressive and feudal religious mullahs who make them unworthy of landing a decent job, the govt. is planning to make bigger mistakes.

As the Sachar panel report states, the Muslims do need reforms but putting forth the same solution (quota regime) is not going to work in the long run. There will infact be more antagonism and resentment towards one more quota addition.

SCs, STs, OBCs, defense personal, sportsmen all have quotas in minority, majority, govt. aided, and non-aided institutions. Now MPs and politicians even want to extend it to the private sector and illustrious institutions. All in the name of equality off course.

Clearly ‘quotas’ are themselves a form of inequality where the law views one class of people higher than others, granting them special rights. If discrimination & inequality of on basis of religion/class/ethnicity/race has to be truly removed it’s the mindset that must be changed. After all inspite of facing innumerable odds and ostracism by the even more regressive society of British India, people like Jyotiba Phule, Ram Mohan Roy were able to successfully introduce reforms and alter people’s perceptions.

The difference between these people and today’s political class is courage. Hardly anyone in the govt. today has the heart & fire in them to unleash reforms and pursue them relentlessly till they succeed. Rather the whole plot revolves around lameduck & semi-effective policies.

A simple approach would be workable if implemented rightly.

* Increase govt. spending on education.
* Initiate grassroots level programs in villages.
* Appoint better quality teachers who themselves must be tested periodically to maintain quality of teaching.
* Build new state/national level colleges and universities.
* Advocate more open universities.
* Allow foreign investment in the educational sector if possible.
* Upgrade Madrassas by keeping mullahs/maulvis only in charge of teaching religious and/or Arabic/Urdu language. Put qualified math/science teachers who can raise standards and awareness.
* Delink education from religious bodies completely in the long run.
* Make S.S.C. level education compulsory.
* Govt. must also check on the high incidence of drop-out rates.

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