|IIMs take battle against reservations to the streets
||[Aug. 25th, 2006|03:26 pm]
Yesterday evening, a group of IIM Alumni gathered near the Jantar Mantar, at the designated spot in the national capital for peaceful protests and held banners registering their protest against the Government's rollout of 27.5% reservation for OBCs in the IIMs and various other Institutes of Higher Learning (IHL).
The protest was organised by the Pan-IIM Alumni Association - the umbrella organisation for alumni of the 6 IIMs, to counter an Act it considers regressive for the nation and detrimental to the IIMs. While we are strongly supportive of affirmative action for the less advantaged sections, we believe the creation of reservation quotas is socially divisive, targets the wrong problems and the basis of the policy has not been transparently or objectively reached (e.g. the 27.5% figure comes from a 1931 census). What is tragic also, is that the reservations will barely even reach the really disadvantaged OBCs - it will benefit the creamy layer - people who are NOT economically or socially disadvantaged in any way.
The quotas offend the idea of a just, merit-based society and are discriminatory to candidates in the general pool. It hits at the very foundations on which the IITs and IIMs were built and for which they have received world-wide acclaim - meritocracy and excellence.
What the Pan-IIM AA does recommend though is various affirmative action options including a massive expansion of the primary and secondary education system to increase access to people from backward classes and areas, coaching facilities - physical and internet-based - to be made available to them, to build up ample competency to attempt the IIM entrance exam, provision of scholarships and financial aid to disadvantaged sections, etc.
The Pan-IIM AA has written letters to the President and Prime Minister (carried in the editorial of the TOI on 22nd August). It will also be taking legal action through a PIL (Public Interest Litigation).
Kirti Madhok, Class of 1976, IIM Ahmedabad
The cops making threatening noises :)
It was the first protest that I'd ever attended and I think for most of us who stood there with our placards, we felt a sense of satisfaction of having finally taken the protest out of cyber-space and group discussions and onto the streets. Though a large section feels it is a lost cause, it was important for us (and our consciences) to register our protest against the Government's regressive and politically-motivated action. Simultaneous peaceful protest marches were taken out at the campuses of IIMs Ahmedabad and Indore. The other IIMs should be following suit shortly.
While we didn't get the same treatment that the striking doctors got - tear-gas and water cannons, there was a significant police presence around, since the medicos' march had gone awry, with a few hundred of them being arrested. The road ahead for the anti-reservation movement is long, arduous and uphill, but what is frightening is where the reservations will probably come in next - jobs in the private sector.