Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Reservations: Part III

In the past I have written about reservation twice (I and II) and if you have been a regular reader here, you know that I have a pro-reservation stance at an ideological level. Though I do not agree with the way our governments have gone about implementing it.

So even for a person who thinks that reservation is good as an idea but the present form of implementation leaves a lot to be desired, HRD ministry’s directive to extend reservation to faculty positions in IITs leave me livid and angry.

I am bewildered at this step for which I am unable to see any bonafide intent. I think this systematic destruction of the brand that goes by the IIT name started when they started opening IITs all over. I think the HRD ministry needs to understand that mere buildings and lab equipments do not make an institute of excellence. Even if we were to believe that students at that state are pliable and can be moulded (which I personally believe to be true, the experience is capable of changing people in multiple ways), we need people who would be able to do the mouldling.

And this is where I have a problem with this directive. I think the end-product from IITs (atleast on the technical side) is a function of the faculty imparting the education. Student interests, career directions, research options and academic rigour are function of the faculty that the students interact with.

I do not have a problem with people of any caste, color, creed, nationality holding faculty positions in these institutes of excellence as long as they are appointed on the basis of their academic and research capabilities. Granting 49.5% (which is enormous) of the faculty positions to a certain section of the society on the basis of their birth is the discrimination of the worst order.

This order attacks the essence of the IIT brand – ‘Excellence.’ I think the output from the process is a function of the input and what the process does to the input. I know ‘input’ at these educational institutions is a function of merit and the stated social objectives of the political set-up. However, screwing up the process will ruin the years of good work that faculty, students and researchers have put in.

I think it is time that the HRD ministry should realize that they are facilitators and enablers at best. The ministry exists not for making political statements but for actual Human Resource Development. How I wish that Arjun Singh and his set of cronies start looking at the broken schooling system and start some work to fix it! If… If wishes were horses.

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