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Pan-IIT alumni against OBC quota

By Aziz Haniffa in Washington, DC
November 16, 2006 16:39 IST
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The Pan-IIT alumni organisation favours affirmative action but is opposed to reservations for Other Backward Classes in the prestigious Indian Institutes of Technology.

The organisation, which collectively represents approximately 150,000 alumni of the seven IITs, has in a letter to has written to President A P J Abdul Kalam and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh argued that while they are supportive of creating equal opportunity for all, they did not believe a system of reservations is the correct approach.

The letter, co-signed by Pan-IIT-USA, Pan-IIT-India Executive Council, and the Global Pan-IIT Coordination Council said, "We admire the government's allocation of resources and appointment of an advisory panel for examining these issues. We urge the government to include members of the Pan-IIT Alumni Association as representatives on this panel and to help implement affirmative action."

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The organisations said that IIT alumni, after 'considerable deliberation on the subject of reservations,' strongly believed that reservations and quotas are not viable alternatives for several reasons.

'We believe that meritocracy and excellence should be the guiding principles in implementing reforms,' the body said. 'Reservations and quotas along the lines of caste, creed, ethnicity, et cetera have only served to divide people and are regressive and counterproductive to the fundamental goals of social change.'

The alumni organisations also argued that the 'current system of quotas is ineffective and facilities for education are inadequate in IIT. The IITs are currently unable to fulfill even the previously set aside quotas for candidates from Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes. Also, there is a significant dropout rate among students who are admitted to the IITs through this system.'

The letter argues that 'merely increasing the quota does not achieve the intended goals. Also, increasing the student intake at the IITs without addressing the acute shortage of faculty and inadequate infrastructure - hostel rooms, student facilities, research labs, etc - would only serve to diminish the world-class standards achieved to date.'

'The IITs were set up for creating a group of Indians to be globally competitive. They were never created for mass education. Affirmative action should be applied for mass education at primary level, and not for institutions of excellence,' the letter said.

It warned that IIT's brand recognition 'has been hard won, and has played a very important role in the rising international esteem for India and Indians on recent year.' The letter urged the president and prime minister to maintain this meritocracy, and said failure to do so was against the national interest.

"This is the first time that every Pan-IIT organisation the world over -- European Union, Canada, Japan, Australia, Singapore, India, and the United States -- has come together with a single voice on a complex subject," Suresh Shenoy, co-president of Pan-IIT, told

Shenoy, an IIT Mumbai alumnus, is executive vice president of Information Management Consultants, Inc based in Reston, Virginia.

He said three members of the association -- Pradeep Gupta, Arjun Malhotra and Sunil Wadhwani -- were working with the Moily Committee to represent the alumni view on the subject.

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