Anita Joshua

Admissions must be decided by the institutions

  • Cut-off for OBCs to be somewhere midway between those for SC/STs
  • Preparatory courses suggested to bring OBC candidates on a par with fellow students

    NEW DELHI: Merit will not necessarily become a casualty once the Government's reservation policy for Other Backward Classes (OBCs) is in place; at least not in top-of-the-line institutions such as the Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs), the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs), the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) and the All-India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS).

    The Oversight Committee entrusted with preparing a roadmap for implementing 27 per cent reservation for OBCs in Central educational institutions says the threshold for admissions to these institutions should be determined by themselves, as is done today, commensurate with the level of its excellence.

    In its interim report submitted to the Government last week, the Committee justified this hands-off strategy vis-a-vis the admission criteria as an acknowledgement of the fact that the IITs, IIMs, IISc and AIIMS and other such "exceptional quality institutions" which have established a global reputation can maintain that standard only if the highest quality in both faculty and students is ensured.

    Even in the case of the other Central educational institutions, the Committee has suggested that cut-off for OBCs be placed somewhere "midway between those for Scheduled Castes/Scheduled Tribes and the unreserved category, carefully calibrated so that the principles of both equity and excellence can be maintained." These recommendations are based on inputs gathered by the five sub-committees from the various Central educational institutions.

    The sub-committee for management education institutions reported to the Oversight Committee that the IIMs were very keen on their position that "High standards and quality must be maintained and assured in the whole process of expansion. There must be no unjustifiable demands on the institutes to lower admission standards in order to accommodate the enhanced intake." Also, the IIMs are clear that OBC reservation should be confined to the post-graduate diploma and equivalent programmes as is the case with SC/ST candidates.

    Similarly, the sub-group for engineering institutions told the Oversight Committee that admission criteria and cut-off "may be left to the Joint Advisory Board of the IITs or the respective Board of Governors." According to the sub-group, the cut-off figures should not be lowered to fill the reserved seats. Like the management sub-group, the engineering sub-group has suggested remedial preparatory courses to bring OBC candidates on a competitive level with fellow students.

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