Thursday, April 20, 2006

On the Proposed Increase in Educational Reservations

Everyone is talking about the proposed increase in seat reservations for "Other Backward Castes" at the premiere educational institutions in India.

There are enough people trying to attack reservations and I'll not go into all that. I'll simply give an alternative solution to the disparities in Indian socio-economics, and argue that the alternative is better than the current reservation system.

1. Concentrate on primary education. Make the fee structure depend on household per capita income (richer parents pay more). Using the excess money that is gotten from rich kids, make room for kids from economically and socially downtrodden families. These EXTRA seats in PRIMARY EDUCATION can be partially reserved on a caste/region basis. The excess money from rich families is used to give free education to those below the poverty line.

2. After this, all children go through the same education, same exams and so forth. And the subsidies and fee-less seats continue.

3. Bring tuition centres under the government's LOOSE control, create a "Coaching Centre Tax" for kids with a particular threshold family income - the rich kids. The money from this tax is used to give "coaching scholarships" to economically and socially backward students). Since all get equal opportunities early on this way, they can (and should) compete fairly and squarely.

4. At institutes of higher learning, again, competition for ADMISSION should be purely merit based (see above points for assurance that all have a fair opportunity to do well in entrance exams). Once admitted, the fee structure again depends on the student's family financial
background. Rich kids pay more, and the money is used to fund THOSE poor kids who, given the above fair chance, have been able to secure seats based on merit.

Advantages
1. This is easily enforceable because the Income Tax department can provide detailed income records that can be used to determine exact fee structures.

2. If a majority of poor people are of "lower" castes (I don't have data on this, assuming it is so...), they automatically benefit from the FINANCIAL reservations as described above.

3. All who graduate from quality institutions can be trusted to have atleast the ABILITY to build the nation well. (Merit is preserved)

4. Rich people of "lower" castes cannot exploit the system.

Disadvantages (compared to current reservation system):
I can't think of any. Maybe you can point out.

Remember, those meritorious enough to deserve to study at our premiere institutions ARE a minority. The task is to find all these meritorious ones from all backgrounds and encourage them. Rather than to discourage the ones who can readily prove their mettle already.

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