Tuesday, August 24, 2010 12 comments

Reservation- A necessary Evil or a Farce? [Part 1]

All right, before you all lambast me on choosing to write a clichéd topic such as Reservation in India, let me tell you that this is one vital issue which cannot be ignored by a blogger who writes about India. After touching upon ragging, racism, English obsession, sadism, poverty, etc, I have finally arrived at another hot, controversial topic- Reservation.

A little background information is necessary. In India, there are different types of reservations, for college seats, jobs in Public companies/institutions, etc. There are 3 main categories of recipients: 1)The Scheduled Castes[SC’s], 2)Scheduled Tribes[S.T.s] and 3) Other Backward Castes[OBCs]. It is estimated that more than 25% of the Indian population [around 30 crore] belong to the backward castes. The actual figure may even be higher, if all the sub-castes are included as well [along with the untouchables, the Dalits, etc]. A person namely responsible for starting the reservation Quota system after India gained independence was the late B.R. Ambedkar, a famous scholar who belonged to a lower class. He wanted people from such lower castes and classes to come up and get rid of the stigma attached to them.
Currently, around 49% of the total seats in Higher Educational Institutes[notably IITs and IIMs] are reserved for students from backward castes. In some areas such as Tamil Nadu, politicians want this figure to be raised even higher[though for now, the Supreme court has said that the number should not cross the 50% mark]. So why has reservation caused such a hullabaloo in our country though it’s totally legal and established by the Government itself?

The reason is quite simple. Almost every person belonging to the General category opposes reservation with the view that it provides a Short-cut or free pass/ticket to undeserving people, whereas deserving people[belonging to the general category] are left behind. Politicians demand extra reservation for people belonging to their castes [such as Yadavs or Mundas]. As such there are thousands of castes in our country, and it’s simply not possible to provide reservation for each and every one separately. So is reservation simply unfair? Is it actually fulfilling the aim or purpose for which it was launched?

Let us go more than 60 years in the past. India, a country which has recently obtained independence. A country where majority of the people are poor and homeless. A country with 85% of its population illiterate and 75% of the people dependent on agriculture alone. The condition of backward castes people at that time was horrendous. They were[and still are] ill-treated and exploited by the zamindars, land owners and money-lenders to name a few. They were mercilessly tortured, beaten, robbed, raped, and made to perform all sorts of atrocious acts[which are too vulgar to mention here, but some included eating cow dung]. Most of them hardly earned anything and many starved to death. The Government thought it to be necessary to uplift these people and get rid of the social evils which had plagued them. Thus the concept of reservations was introduced, mainly to show that in a democracy like India, people from all castes, status, etc would be included in the daily affairs of the nation.

Moreover, most of such backward class people were illiterate [close to 100%]. So it was necessary to provide them with education and jobs. So after the IITs and IIMs were set up, it was decided that a portion of the total seats would be reserved for people belonging to backward castes. So how did this escalate into a problem? The answer is simple. With passing of time, many people from the backward castes managed to get rid of their poverty and join the burgeoning middle class[now rising in number]. Plus there were quite a few people who had decent jobs at present[along with a decent salary of course], with ancestors belonging to some backward castes. But seeing that the reservation stood for all, such people naturally decided to utilize the benefits of reservation for their wards. So even if their children did not score as high as someone from general category, they still managed to get a seat into say an IIT, and later in a Government job. This was the starting point of the agitation, soon to gain momentum throughout the country.

Thousands of people protested. Some formed mobs, and went on a rampage in cities all across India. Some destroyed public property. Others set things on fire and some people set themselves on fire as a mark of protest. They had one demand-Put an end to this unfair practice of Reservation in the name of uplifting the backward class. They considered it to be a specious act. To quell their anger, the Government introduced the Creamy layer system in 1971[Sattanathan Commission] which specified that a certain wealthy section of Backward castes people would be ineligible for the reservation quota. At present those who earn above Rs. 4,50,000[which was raised from Rs. 2,50,000 in 2008] per annum belong to the creamy layer and are ineligible for reservation.

Though that worked to an extent, if truth be told, someone whose father earns a salary of say Rs. 4,25,000 per annum[which works out to Rs. 35,000 per month, quite a decent figure considering that majority of Indians don’t even earn one-tenth that amount] is still eligible for quota. This is, what I believe, rightly unfair[Oxymoron?]. If a person is already earning such a high amount of a salary, then why should his child get a reserved seat which he clearly does not deserve? On the other hand, there are also many genuine cases where a person is unable to give his child proper coaching so that he can join a reputed institute. Due to the environment the student lags far behind his urban counterparts, and is naturally disadvantaged when it comes to college admissions. In such a case, maybe he really deserves to get admission. So whats the way out of this?

To Be Concluded
Thursday, August 19, 2010 6 comments

MBA Updates- Dates, etc

Here are the dates of a few MBA exams for this season[2010-2011]. Hope it will be useful for all MBA aspirants including myself:

1. CAT [for application to all existing IIMs and 100s of other Bschools including MDI Gurgaon, IMT Ghaziabad, NITIE, etc] - 27th October till 23rd November- You can select any Date in between the Test window, excluding national Holidays such as Diwali. Two time Slots, either in the Morning or in the Afternoon.

2. IIFT [For application to Indian Institute of Foreign Trade, Delhi and Kolkata campuses]- 28th November- 10 am to 12 pm.

3. FMS [For application to the Faculty of Management Studies, Delhi campus]- 5th December. Timing possibly in Afternoon slot.

4. JMET[For applications to IITs]- 12th December. [Possibly]- 10 am to 1 pm[3 hours].

5. SNAP[For application to all institutes under Symbiosis University such as SIBM Pune]- 19th December.

6. XAT[For application to XLRI Jamshedpur, XIM-Bhubaneswar, XISS Ranchi, etc]- Possibly on January 2nd or 9th.

These are the prominent MBA examinations. I do not have information about some of the other tests, notably MAT[Management Aptitude Test held four times a year] or NMAT[which will possibly be held in January] , IBSAT and MH-CET.
Also Note- As of this date, ie 19th August, 2010, only IIFT forms are available. The official CAT bulletin should be out on 22nd August, and sales of vouchers to commence from 29th August onwards. Again this is not confirmed yet. So keep checking the websites and follow newspapers regularly.

People keep asking me as to how my preparation is going on. I usually give the same reply to all- ‘Preparation is good. I just need to improve slightly in Quant to clear the cut offs. I am doing quite well in the other 2 sections, ie DI and VA.’ This December is going to be a hectic one. Can’t expect to do well in the semester exams this time around. Btw my 6th sem result is out, and I managed a 8.89. That makes my YGPA 9.04, the second highest in my department [CSE-total 133 students]. I have been confident and optimistic throughout my course of CAT preparation[which began in my first year of college] and I hope I will be able to give a decent performance. I believe that staying calm throughout will greatly benefit anyone during the exam. As for mocks, I have mostly got in the lower 90s[93-95] but I know I am capable of getting into the upper 90s range. Going slow and steady.
All the best to those who are giving any/all of the above exams this season. I hope all of you do well. I will give my best performance as well.

P.S.- If you are not really interested in an MBA, kindly do not give the exams just for fun or thinking that it will get you a good job. It won’t help, trust me. You will only end up wasting time and money.
P.P.S.- If you STILL haven’t started your preparation, I would suggest that you either spend 10 hours a day on preparation[2 months] or just appear next year.
Tuesday, August 10, 2010 7 comments

Overpopulation Crisis

Note: This Post contains material which may be suited ONLY for adults. So if you are not one, I would recommend that you do not read this post.

India is currently the World’s second most populous nation. Almost all of us know that. Yet, hardly any of us has tried to do something about this fact, namely limit the population growth. True, most middle class families have adopted the one child principle[Not legally of course, unlike the one in China], which has helped in slowing down the population growth rate. However, in the rural areas[which still constitutes of over 70% of India’s population], the situation is bleak. Most families have more than 6 members in all, and many parents still have 5-6 children on an average. This situation is alarming, since huge population has severely hindered India’s progress for the last few decades. And the bulk of it is constituted by the rural people, and also the Lower Class/Poor category people.
Though the Census results will be displayed in 2011, it is estimated that India’s population is inching towards the 120 crore mark. This is an incredibly high figure since India constitutes just a mere 2.4% of the total Earth’s surface by area. Yet, neither the Government, nor the people are bothered. As if people prefer to have more and more children, even if that means additional burden on their income, and no dips in poverty levels. People keep comparing this figure with China, saying that China has a larger population, but they forget that China is a much larger country than India, and apart from a few places[Shanghai,Beijing,etc] the population distribution is more or less even. Compare this with India, where in some areas the population density shoots up to over 900 persons per sq km. In fact the situation is so bad, that in some villages, there are a lakh households spread across an area of mere 9 sq km.[I know it sounds hard to believe but it is the truth]

Why has the situation gone from bad to worse? Why do people keep having more and more children? Let us look into some of the factors: 1) Lack of basic education- Most people don’t have any idea about how the reproductive system works, neither are the aware about maternal health and child care, as a result both sectors are heavily neglected. 2) Refusal to use any Contraceptives- Many people are still superstitious and refuse to utilize condoms, pills, etc and most people will remember the 70’s eras, when forced sterilization was carried out with catastrophic ramifications. The bottom-line is- Most Indians stubbornly and arrogantly refuse to use contraceptives, and would rather have multiple children than to stay content with a small family. Though it is also true that due to lack of awareness, many people don’t get access to contraceptives and do not know how to use them. Awareness camps have done little, and the Government has hardly spent any money in educating the mass, especially in rural areas. Sex education remains a taboo, and Sexually Transmitted Diseases, such as the ferocious AIDS, are on the rise. 3) Male Child Preference- India still has a dismal sex ratio of around 927. The demand for a male child gives unnecessary pressure on a woman to keep having children[even at a risk to her health] till she delivers a male child. Even worse, the poor girl is blamed for giving birth to a female kid, even though its actually the male chromosome that determines the sex of a child. Many people still follow this policy- The More, the Merrier. Some people believe it’s the act of God who sends children, so such an act must not be opposed by using contraceptives. They even cite the example of Gandhi, who was against such measures himself. However they subtly forget to mention that Gandhi[after the age of 37] was a celibate, and strongly preached in the favor of abstinence. The modern day man clearly thinks otherwise.

Sex is one of the most basic and primitive human[or animal?] needs, as most biologists and psychologists will remark. So a person cannot simply be told to practice abstinence. However this does not mean that he should keep on producing more and more children, even after knowing that he cannot afford to take care of them. This only adds to the poverty[as we know that Food Grains increase in Arithmetic Progression, and Population in Geometric Progression] and not only affects the parents, but the entire society and hence the whole country. I believe that 90% of India’s problems can be directly or indirectly attributed to overpopulation. This can be simply reflected at the state of our miserable public transport system. Our buses, trains are so over-crowded that a normal person simply cannot make any journey in peace. No wonder so few foreigners prefer to come to India. All places around them are cramped by people, people and more people. Most of them are poor, uncouth, sadistic and follow unhygienic or immoral practices. But the saddest part is that, hardly anybody is doing anything about it. Overpopulation is one of the biggest impediments for India’s Economic development, yet the Government calmly ignores it, since politicians believe ‘More the number of People, the more votes they can capture.’ The average common Indian faces lots of difficulties, but decides to indifferent. After all, the solution is connected with the biggest taboo in India- talking about sex. And no Indian, poor or rich is willing to seek out the solutions when it deals with sex education.

The biggest problem is that ‘Power corrupts, and Absolute Power corrupts Absolutely.’ This is true in case of the reproductive power of man. Theoretically, a man can produce infinite number of children. So when someone has unlimited power, he is bound to misuse it. Which has become the case in India. Seeing that the fertility levels shot up the roof, each man tried to show the other[in Hindi we call it Mardanagi ] that he was more capable, by producing more children. ‘How dare he have 8 children, I will produce 11,’ he remarks without a speck of worry for his poor wife. The truth is that the problem of overpopulation has been exacerbated by the fact that people refuse to speak about sex and discuss sexual problems or even issues such as menstruation [only around 3% of women have access to sanitary napkins] or child care. They falsely believe that sex education will corrupt the minds of children. However they don’t understand that in the absence of sexual education, a child will get misconceptions which may be harmful for him. In fact, in a recent survey it is seen that most parents do not discuss anything about sex with their children, and it is obviously not taught in many schools[as everyone from politicians to teachers avoid even alluding the topic] as a result they come to know about it via pornography, or from their peers and seniors, which gives their minds a very negative impact.

In fact, such is the callousness of the Government, when it comes to the Overpopulation issue, the UP Government[Health department] recently remarked that the people should be given more TV sets which will help in lowering the population. Instead of taking concrete steps, they are just dodging the issue. And now, Uttar Pradesh can proudly boast that they have managed to beat Brazil- Not in any football match of course[not even close]. But in terms of population, they are all set to beat Brazil[20 crore plus and counting].

At least, on the plus side we can say that every sixth person in the World is an Indian.