Since we’re in the mood, we’re going to dissect this brilliant comment that an anonymous poster left on the ‘reservations about reservations about…‘ post:
1. Firstly, the person suggested that we should investigate the term ‘merit’.
Here goes: Merit is determined on whether a student has achieved a certain minimum level of results, dependent on certain criterion. If the IIT’s and IIM’s have their own set of criterion, then merit for them is determined according to that. Age isn’t a factor in merit, but might be an important determinant in ’employability’.
2.The CAT exam is based on the SAT exam in the USA . It has been proved beyond doubt that the SAT test is culturally biased . Blacks and hispanics do poorly at it year after year .
Now, the CAT exam is based on SAT, it isn’t the same as SAT. Also, Blacks and Hispanics aren’t the same as our OBC, MBC and SC/ST friends. False generalisation.
3. It was suggested that CAT is discriminatory because the CAT is in English, and has comprehension passages and that knowing that language does not mean you lack the capacity to clear that exam.
This can be attributed to employability, which I’ll discuss later in the post.
4. There is no test on earth which can reliably tests aptitude .
That, I agree with.
5. CAT is a clever way to keep those from lower socio-economic strata away Institutes funded with tax payers money .
So have the politicians asked the tax payers whether they would like reservations on the basis of merit or castes? They’ll get an answer, anyway, in the next election, lest the BJP continues with the infighting, and not provide a stable alternative.
6. And FINALLY: Dhirubhai Ambani had a poor command over English . He would not have made it through CAT. So what “merit” are we talking of?
Rationality? Ambani may have not had an adequate command over English, but he was at once a risk taker, determined, a little headstrong, a street smart strategist and a rational businessman. Now can you tell me which exam can help determine this, in full earnest? There may have been companies who might have refused him employment as well, but that was their loss, not his.
Now on Employability:
Firstly, I’d like to categorically state that I believe that the CAT exam, as with several other entrance exams, are actually for the purpose of elimination, not selection. The post-exam procedures of the GD and PI are modes of selection. Both procedures are necessary, and both are not expendable. At the end of the day, they both help select students that the university in question feels are employable or can be made employable, and therein lies the subjectivity. Undoubtedly, the system can be tweaked, but if with the procedure in place, they’re getting students who are employable, they might not feel that there is a need to tinker with it.
At the end of the day, if you don’t meet the cut, it’s your problem. If the government isn’t providing people with an education that gears them up for working life, or for even tackling selection procedures, this is clearly no reason to pass the buck.
Let’s just take a situation where the norms are relaxed: over a period of time you will find that corporates will begin to consider private colleges, and students will attempt to opt for those as well. They will up their selection criterion, and their equity will rise in the market. At the end of the day, the students of the government funded institutions will lose out, albeit not immediately, because the corporates look at employability of the human resources that they’re hiring. Our pre-post grad (school, highschool and even college) system is so archaic (and often so behind the times) that it serves no obvious practical purpose. I mean – it takes a minimum of 21 years before a student gets a taste of post-grad. If Post Grad has become a norm, its only because post grads are considered more employable than undergrads, and that’s only because of the education system. I think you should be looking at a complete revamp of the curriculum every five years, though one that isn’t based on rewriting history.
Which is why English is important – it is the most widely spoken language in the world, and over time it’ll be the one language that unites this country. If I’m hiring, I’d rather have a person who can communicate with people across the country – I don’t want to hire a punjabi whose language cannot be understood by my vendor or client in Chennai or Bengal. I think division on the basis of language was the greatest disservice done to the people by the first government, further entrenching differences.
Anyway, still on reservations, I suggest that you guys take a look at the social revolution in Britain post WW-II, after Labour took power. As a Tory leader, Alfred Balfour rightly put it then: “social legislation is not merely to be distinguished from Socialist legislation but it is its most direct opposite and its most effective antidote.” In other words, expect social retribution to increase and divides to widen. English society divided on the basis of class in a manner similar to our caste and class divisions, and they have managed to iron out those differences by switching to a meritocratic system.
Post Script: Looks like I got carried away while writing this, and took a few tangential turns. Well, that’s what blogs are for. O-)