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Anti-reservation protest march

Students of NIFT and DAIICT held a peaceful protest march against reservations in Gandhinagar. Prasoon Gupta reports

No Politics in Education

Reservation is INEQUALITY – We are a ‘DEMOCRACY’

No Divide and rule – No Casteism

Don’t play with our FUTURE

Right to EQUALITY – Let’s Have it.

My Dad an IITian [No Reservation] – Me NIFTian [22.5% Reservation] – My Child [49.5% Reservation] – WHERE????’

Me against Reservation

These were the messages which the placards carried when 200 students from DA-IICT and NIFT (Gandhinagar, Gujarat) held a silent protest march on the morning of 17th April. The march eventually ended when a signed petition with about 800 signatures against the recent bill of reservation for OBCs, was submitted at the Collectorate here in the capital of Gujarat.

The protest march did manage to achieve its objective – The students successfully made their presence felt in opposing the recent proposal by ‘Arjun Singh’ wherein additional 27% reservations is being mooted for OBCs apart from the 22.5% already there for the SC/STs. Media coverage was there, the Police escorted the protestors all the way and all in all, everyone was happy as the public too got interested in what the furore was all about.

The Petition said:
This is in response to the recent announcements from the Ministry of Human Resources and Development regarding reservation of 27% for OBC’s in all seats in institutes of higher education being centrally funded. Reservations have often been the centre of discussion owing to the polemical results such decisions might force upon the nation.

The current hike in reservation in premier institutes like the IITs and the IIMs pushes the current figure to a startling 49.5 %. These institutes, held highly as the temples of knowledge, are reputed to create the finest individuals every year. Induction of reservations in such a meritocratic scenario would only hinder their actual sacrosanct motive from being accomplished. The move to increase reservations is likely to jeopardize the future of many students who might lose out in the race only on the basis of caste, ironically, in a knowledge-driven society like ours.

We are currently poised in a place where India is on the verge of being recognized as a global centre for knowledge. It would be sad to see such a projection retrogress from the current reputation to a bad one. Where agony still prevails over the efficiency of reservations for over a period of 50 years, it should not be strange that the efficacy of a decision to set aside a few more valuable seats in these institutions is highly dubitable, specially considering the amount of effort that goes into procuring an admission in these institutions. Our strong conviction is that by introducing an increase in the current ‘reserved quota’ we are going against the very promise of ‘equality’ that it is meant to fulfill.

We also strongly believe that there are better ways to approach a problem and hope to resolve this plaguing dilemma by pragmatic measures. The whole concept of reservation serves its purpose if someone who’s been gainsaid an opportunity to study has been offered a seat instead. If a candidate has already worked hard enough to reach a stage where he’s qualified to attempt the examinations necessary to get into these premier institutes (suggesting that he had been offered education equally well throughout all the previous years), it is clearly not a case of ‘denied opportunity’. While the fear of exploitation of such a gambit still lurks over the future citizens of our country, we suggest that minimizing the chasm between urban and rural areas by focusing on improvement of infrastructure, quality of education and reservations only at primary levels of education will enhance and ameliorate the situation to a bright and prospective future.

Our motive is to ensure a healthy competition and provide equal opportunities for all.

This plea of common students appears to be supported by reports like the latest in Outlook [ Apr 14th, 2006] where it is quoted –
“A report prepared by two former directors of IITs found that 50 per cent of seats reserved for SC and ST candidates remained vacant as the applicants failed to secure even the much lower entry marks required. Of those admitted, 25 per cent were forced to quit, as they could not complete a four-year course even in six years.

One IIM director said that they are able to fill only around 10-15 per cent of the reserved seats. And even those who are able to complete the course are not able to take part in extracurricular activities owing to the pressure of studies. Most of them came away with bitter memories. And their travails do not end there. They face their most frustrating hurdle in the job market.”

Finally, In the words of SS Gill [Secretary, Mandal Commission] from the same issue of Outlook – “Nobody seems to be raising the basic issue: Why do we still require the crutch of reservations to enable students from the deprived sections to stand on their feet even 60 years after Independence.”

Though there are quite a few in favor of the proposed bill, large numbers are actually on the side which stands against such a suggestion and this time, DA-IICTians and NIFTians have already added their contribution by this protest march.

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