The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Quota raises IIM exodus fear

Ahmedabad, May 7: Whether or not it lowers the quality of students, Arjun Singh’s quota plan is likely to hit the standards of teaching at the Indian Institutes of Management.

Many faculty members say they would consider leaving if the proposed 27 per cent quota for other backward class students is applied at the B-schools.

“The best faculty members will leave; there will be an exodus,” said a professor at IIM Ahmedabad.

A young teacher, one of 18 who joined in the past two years, said he and other colleagues have already begun exploring job options. They believe that once the quota is put in place, academic standards will fall.

“We may go abroad or join other institutes,” said another teacher, a PhD from Texas University, who has begun feeling frustrated over his decision to return to India.

This young professor, an IIT graduate who has taught for eight years at the London School of Economics, said: “I am seriously exploring other avenues. I’m here by choice ' I can leave if I feel that the purpose of coming to IIM Ahmedabad is not being served.”

The professor, who did not wish to be named, said many of his colleagues share his feelings. “For most of us who have taught at foreign universities, there is no dearth of opportunities.”

A senior professor, Ramesh Bhat, confirmed that an exodus was a genuine possibility.

“I joined IIM Ahmedabad because I saw growth opportunity here. This is a world-class institute. But its character will change if nearly 50 per cent students are selected on the basis of reservation, not merit, which is the hallmark of any institution of excellence.”

A professor suggested that many people from the other backward classes (OBCs) are so well off that they don’t need reservation.

“If the Centre is so concerned about the backwardness of the OBCs, why doesn’t it introduce reservation at the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research or Isro (Indian Space Research Organisation)' They cannot, because quality will be compromised.”

A senior professor on the Ahmedabad campus, Anil Gupta, has a different view on reservation, though.

He argued that private schools are in effect reserved for the rich rather than the meritorious because of the high fees they charge. So, if reservation is wrong, then this is equally unjustified.

“I’m all for affirmative action,” Prof Gupta said, “but only first-generation OBCs (those not well off) should enjoy the benefit.”

He suggested that all quota students at the IIMs should be provided free coaching by the government. They should also spend one extra year at the institutes.

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