Taking yet another historic step towards empowering India's masses by spreading the light of knowledge, Symbiosis International University voluntarily decides to implement the recommended 27% seat allocation for OBC students. This is being done by creating additional seats over and above the sanctioned intake of each programme...
- ad in leading newspapers earlier this week.
This increase starts with a 7% hike in seats this year, going upto 27% in two years time.
This ad was cannily released right after the IIMs released their admission list, minus OBC quota. The OBC question will come up once again for hearing on May 8 in the Supreme Court.
Given the time the judicial system is likely to take, the OBC issue may remain unresolved by the time the academic session begins in June. So what happens to OBC candidates? Well, most likely, they would have given other admission tests like Symbiosis SNAP.
So Symbi swings into action. This is both a chance to gain some PR points with politicians and assume a sort of higher moral ground. "Affirmative action", after all is practised in American universities. Sounds so much better than 'reservation' as well.
The trouble is this:
- Nowhere on the Symbiosis website do I see a mention of SCs and STs. If one must begin to 'empower India's masses' on the basis of caste then surely you can't start with OBCs.
- There is no mention of creamy/ non-creamy layer. The whole debate about merit vs reservation rests on the argument that caste does not necessarily equal backwardness. An OBC and a Brahmin with similar economic and educational backgrounds should be treated as equals.
In fact there is no mention of the word 'underprivileged' with OBC at all, so one can only assume this initiative is going to empower those who can pay for their education.
- The use of the term 'affirmative action' is misleading. As the Princeton Review notes:
..affirmative action is not about quotas—that is, it's not meant to force schools or businesses into accepting or hiring a certain percentage of minorities or women. Instead, affirmative action is meant to level the playing field and ensure that schools and businesses are not intentionally discriminating against minority groups.
No college is permitted to have separate admissions criteria for different racial groups; all students must be in competition with one another regardless of race.
What Symbiosis is implementing is a quota. Voluntary it may be, but the spirit behind it is pure commerce.