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'Increasing seats unfeasible; mute on quota'

Written by: Staff

New Delhi, June 4: Majority of the elite institutes of higher education across the country are 'mute' on complying with the government's reservation policy for OBCs but raised doubts over increasing the seats with the IIM-Bangalore saying bigger classrooms may lead to dilution of quality and IIM-Ahmedabad calling it ''simply not feasible''.

IIM-Bangalore Director Prakash G Apte told UNI that a bigger intake in the premier institutes of higher education may lead to dilution of quality.

''In IIM-B, we are already facing shortage of faculty. Finding suitable faculty is a difficult thing. If the size of the classes is increased, the quality may suffer,'' he feared.

He said the institute had approved to increase the intake of students to 300 from the current 260. It was a planned increase.

Beyond this it would be difficult. Physical infrastructure was not a problem. But due to shortage of faculty, it would be difficult to increase the student strength, he added.

Karnataka-based Rajiv Gandhi Health University Vice Chancellor P S Prabhakaran said various issues were involved in increasing the intake of students especially in a health varsity. The strict norms of Medical Council of India and Dental Council of India would have to be followed. Besides, there should also be corresponding increase in faculty.

''If reservation has to be implemented in the next academic year, we may have to take up matters on a war footing,'' he added.

However, the gap between backward and forward communities was narrowing down fast as it was evidenced in the marks scored by students of both the communities in the Common Entrance Test for professional courses in Karnataka, he pointed out.

Bangalore University Registrar R M N Sahai said reservation would not have any implication on the state-based universities as they were already providing it. Under the Roster system, OBSs were now getting more or less 27 per cent as proposed by the Central government.

The two major institutes of higher learning in Ahmedabad -- IIM and National Institute of Design (NID) are at a loss as to how to go about reserving 27 per cent of seats for OBCs, in case it becomes a law.

Directors of both IIMA and NID, Dr Bakul Dholakia and Dr Darlie O Koshy respectively, parried questions on the merit of the government decision, but cited umpteen reasons to make their stand amply clear on increasing the seats: ''It is simply not feasible!'' Both the institutes are short of staff by 15-20 per cent.

The Governing Board of IIMA at its annual meeting here on April 2 with Infosys chairman N R Narayana Murthy in chair did discuss the reservation issue, but avoided a direct confrontation with Union HRD Ministry for obvious reasons.

The Ahmedabad chapter of IIMA Alumni Association at its executive meeting here on May 18 decided to meet the Prime Minister and the President to impress upon them the difficulty of implementing such reservations.

Dr Koshy said NID is already in the expansion mode, fulfilling past commitments, increasing the intake capacity from 60 to 75 for the five-year residential Under-Graduate Programme. About 50 students are admitted to its various Post Graduate Programmes. ''The hostel capacity is fully booked.'' IIM-Kozhikode Director Dr Krishna Kumar refused to comment on the possibility of hike in seats in the wake of the Centre's proposed move.

The Director said ''Neither am I aware of any government move on the issue nor did I receive any direction from any quarter seeking increase in seats.'' Refusing to give any futher information, he said ''As far as I know this was a creation of the media.''

Directors of IIT, Kharagpur, and IIM, Calcutta, too refused to be dragged into the controversy. IIT Kharagpur Director S K Dube said he would carry out any Government order without taking a personal view. ''As Director of IIT, I do not have any alternative but to implement whatever decision the Government takes. I would not like to make any comment on the issue.'' IIM-C Director Shekhar Choudhury said, ''I won't comment because whatever I say will become official,'' he said.

Regarding the possibility of increasing the total number of seats, Mr Choudhury informed that the management had already increased about 70 seats in the institute from this year. ''The number of seats this year is now 335 as against 265 earlier. Any further increase next year is naturally not possible.'' Dr Jayant Chayya, placement facilitator for the prestigious Goa Institute of Management(GIM) in Panaji sought a solid commitment from the Centre for ensuring a ''win-win situation'' on the reservation issue.

The proposal to provide 27 per cent reservations to OBCs should be ''feasible'' in that the Centre should assure adequate funds, faculty and infrastructure facilities to cope with the increase, he said.

''The increase in number of seats should ensure that the non-reservation category students should not lose opportunities.

This is possible only when the institutions are adequately funded to strengthen the infrastructure including the study material and faculty.'' Goa University Registrar Mohan Sangodkar said, ''Presently, we follow reservations of 2 per cent for SC, 12 per cent for ST and 19.5 per cent for OBC, which makes a total of 33.5 per cent. Even with these reservations, sometimes, we find that not all the seats in most of the courses are filled, which gives an impression that the policy of reservation based on caste/community may need to be re-looked at.''

It may be better to have reservations for economically backward classes of the society who may be given financial assistance for competing in higher education. However, creamy layers in this reservation category should be treated on par with general category, he added. Punjab University Vice Chancellor K N Pathak said it had been found that several reserved seats in various departments for higher studies were already vacant despite advertisements.

''The (Punjab) University often faces problem in filling the reserved seats in some courses and faculty appointments despite advertising in papers. Sometimes we don't get candidates for a reserved post which remains vacant,'' he said.

Prof Pathak, however, said that they would follow the guidelines in implementing the proposed 27 per cent reservation for OBC candidates in their respective institutions.

Punjab Engineering College Director Vijay Gupta said, ''I have to follow the policy decided by Board of Governor, if the Board asks me to reserve 27 per cent seats for OBC candidates. I will simply implement it,'' he said.

Mr Gupta said that if the merit was lowered, the only thing he would do is to ask his faculty members to work harder to bring reserved category candidates at par with other candidates.

Mr Gupta, however, said increasing the number of seats was not an easy task. Entire new infrastructure, staff, classrooms and many more things would not be possible overnight, he added.

Dr Ravinder Singh Ravi, Vice chancellor of Baba Farid University of Medical Science, Faridkot, said it was the government's prime duty to provide education to all the candidates at par, irrespective of caste or creed.

He said there was not yet any official document released for implementing the 27 per cent reservation of the OBCs and there was a debate going on in the media. He said it would be obvious that government institutions ought to follow the government's guidelines.

Hisar Agriculture University Dean Dr M L Gupta said the reservation would bring down the quality and standard of work and practice.

''The international prestige of the Indian human resource would be degraded and the country would face retrogressive trend. The students belonging to OBCs should be given adequate facilities, scholarships and other amenities upto the 12th standard and later, they should compete with others,'' he opined.


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