Developing a global vision was stressed at The Hindu's pre-counselling session in Bangalore, says RASHEED KAPPAN
The packed Chowdiah Memorial Hall in Bangalore was proof of the popularity of an event that had come to stay. The nearly 1,000 professional college seat aspirants and their parents who made up that audience showed the importance they attached to admission and seat selection. Offering precisely the guidance, counselling and direction they needed was The Hindu EducationPlus pre-counselling session.The words of wisdom from the speakers on the dais had a ring of reassurance, warmth and concern for the candidates' future. Chaos and confusion still reigned in the admission process at the government level, with the State and the private college managements nowhere near an agreement on the seat-sharing and fee structure. But there, inside the Chowdiah Memorial Hall, the students were taken to a different plane, rich in content and direction. From curriculum to industry-academia partnership, alternative courses to motivation, the candidates had a range of fresh ideas to launch into. The Government and the private college managements would meet again on June 13 to chalk out a solution. Of course, if some arrangement were to be worked out, the candidates would have a smoother seat selection process, both at the Common Entrance Test (CET) Cell and the Consortium of Medical, Engineering and Dental Colleges of Karnataka (COMED-K). The chief guest, Mr. K. Dinesh, co-founder and director of Infosys Technologies, prepared the ground as he talked about India and its economy, how it was getting global and thus required candidates who had that global vision. India as an economy was no longer inward looking, and its industries — IT, BT, manufacturing, services, R&D — were now focussed on the global markets, he told the students. He drew their attention to this big change, urging them to acquire the right abilities to meet these global needs. With the State Government passing the Karnataka Professional Education Institutions Bill, the CET Cell's importance as a seat allocation agency had gone down the spiral. If last year, it had almost 44,000 engineering seats to offer, this year it had merely about 4,000 in the private aided and government colleges. With just about 500 MBBS seats and 50 dental seats, it had lost its place to the COMED-K, which took the Cell's place almost overnight.
Offering 1,895 medical, 1,740 dental and 31,469 engineering seats, the Consortium had emerged strong, and representing it at the pre-counselling event was S. Kumar, its Executive Secretary. Dr. Kumar traced the history of the admissions process over the years, contending that the various court judgments would correct a trend where over 40 per cent of the free seats allotted went to families with annual incomes of Rs. 5 lakh and more. The CET Cell had been a role model, but since 2002, the Cell's autonomy had been repeatedly breached by the Government, he contended. The CET Cell's administrative officer, Syed Jamal, having overseen the seat selection process for over a decade, answered students' queries with confidence and statistics at his fingertips. He told the students that they were sure of getting an engineering or dental seat this year. He had a logic: Only MBBS seats were completely filled every year whether they were processed through the Cell or COMED-K. "Last year, 4,000 engineering seats under government quota and 7,000 under management quota were unfilled. There were no takers for 220 dental seats as well," he said. Medical seats were the problem every year, and they were the root cause for concern this year too.