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Delhi dozes, IIMs lose quota sleep

New Delhi, Jan. 14: Having cleared the toughest of examinations, some of India’s brightest minds entering the country’s Ivy League this year may face crammed classrooms and hostels — and perhaps morning skirmishes at the toilet.

The Indian Institutes of Management, Indian Institutes of Technology and the All India Institute of Medical Sciences are in “quota chaos”.

Six months before the admission process starts, the institutes are still waiting for the Centre to clear their infrastructure plans to meet the surge in students mandated by the new reservation law.

Over the next three years, higher education institutions under the central government must introduce the 27 per cent quota for Other Backward Classes students. This will come with a 27 per cent rise in general category seats — so the seats in this section do not fall — making the total hike 54 per cent.

AIIMS and each of the seven IITs and six IIMs have sent the Centre details of how they plan a staggered seat hike without diluting quality.

“None of us has received any feedback. We can’t build the infrastructure — we are in complete quota chaos,” the dean of an IIM said. The issue has found top priority at a meeting of top IIM officials going on in Mumbai.

IIM Ahmedabad, already reduced to renting flats outside the campus for its students, may face some of the worst problems.

The Mecca of management studies has 20 “dormitories”, each with 25 beds. So its total hostel capacity is 500 — the same as the number of its MBA students. The B-school has been forced to ask its research scholars to stay in nearby apartments.

“A 12 per cent increase in seats this year is all we can manage,” J.R. Verma, dean of the institute, said. The next two years will each see a 21 per cent rise, calculated with the 2006-07 capacity as the base.

The contractor hired to build a new hostel can’t start, though. Before the institute decides how many rooms the new hostel needs, it would like to know if its plan to limit the seat hike to 12 per cent this year has been cleared.

IIM Calcutta has given up hope that the 1,000-seat hostel it wants — the existing hostel can house 650 — will be ready for the coming academic year. “Even the land for the hostel hasn’t been cleared yet,” said dean Anindya Sen.

The B-school, therefore, plans to increase seats this year by only 6 per cent. The IIM has 600 students living on the campus now, and the increase would keep the number below 650.

“By next year, though, we’ll need the new hostel,” Sen added.

That’s because in 2008, the institute plans to hike seats by 30 per cent. The remaining 18 per cent of the 54 per cent increase is planned for 2009. But even its plan for the immediate 6 per cent hike hasn’t been cleared.

The IITs want to hike the seats in equal shares, by 18 per cent over the next three years.

At IIT Delhi, the space crunch is visible: a 400-seat girls’ hostel is being built right next to the gate. “A hostel for about 1,000 boys is also planned,” dean Anurag Sharma said.

With class sizes too set to leap, the institute wants to build a complex with classrooms that can hold 500 students.

AIIMS has no plans yet. Dean Dr Ramesh Deka said the institute was “waiting for the government’s instructions” before upgrading infrastructure.

If the wait doesn’t end soon, the medicos may have to get back to protesting on the streets — for rooms this time.

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