Prof MS Gopinathan’s guest column (OBCs should throw away the demeaning crutches offered) in rediff.com is worth a read. Like all sensible observers of the issue, he points out that the problem has to be addressed at the school level.
It is interesting to note that the author himself is a member of the OBC group.
If you haven’t had proper schooling and if you are just airlifted into an IIT by virtue of your scheduled or backward caste, you will be a miserable misfit in the intellectually and socially elite IIT atmosphere. You cannot cope with the courses; you cannot speak the campus lingo. You feel ostracized, intellectually and socially. I am saying this based on my decades of long experience with such students at IIT. Even after special coaching for a year at IIT and being exempted from the dreaded Entrance Examination, the SC/ST reserved students cannot perform. Often they require further academic concessions, albeit unethical, to barely pass the courses. It helps nobody, least of all them. I do not know what happens to them in their post-IIT life; some commission should study it. But I doubt whether many second generation SC/ST IITians make it to the IIT directly through the JEE.
It takes enormous, dedicated, and sincere effort for decades on the part of the government if quality universal school education is to be provided to all, as decreed by the Constitution and as Independent India has miserably failed to deliver in over 50 years. But it is far easier to shortchange and hoodwink the SC/STs and OBCs by making a legislative flourish of the pen offering useless, humiliating backdoor entry to them in the Institutes of higher learning. This political gimmick even distorts the meaning of ‘higher’ learning.
If segregation is a legislative imperative, I suggest that it is better to have it on different campuses, rather than on the same campus. That is a win-win, 100-100 reservation situation. The SC/ST, OBC, BC and FC all having their own IITs with 100 per cent reservation, not only for students, but for faculty and staff too (why stop at students?). Maybe we could thus have healthy academic caste wars. Each group on its own racetrack.