Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Comment on "Quota Raj Cometh"

Someone anonymously posted a comment on my blog about the reservation in IIT/IIMs. I would have liked to have a name associated with it, but anyway, I think the comment deserves a reply as a post (at least half as big as the comment :-). A search on Copyscape showed that someone with name Shylock is spamming the blogosphere with the same comment (here). It raises some arguable points though. The comment-

We must investigate the term "merit".Is "merit" just a score in entrance exams at age of 17?

Take the claim of "merit based" entrance to all IIMs and dozens of other institutes.

The CAT exam is based on the SAT exam in the USA . It has been proved beyond doubt that the SAT test is culturally biased . Blacks and hispanics do poorly at it year after year .

If a student who is eligible for admission to IIM on the basis of his CAT score, were to take the same CAT exam in which he/she cleared in a language that he/she did not understand then he/she would be at a disadvantage compared to someone who was schooled in that language . Not knowing that language does not mean you lack the capacity to clear that exam.

Approximately 25 % of CAT test is about English! Another 25 % is about English Comprehension!!!! There you are !!!! About 50 % so called aptitude test is a hoax for someone who is from a non-english speaking background .

This is how the CAT like the SAT is discriminatory .

See the full form of SAT - Scholastic Aptitude Test . The problem is aptitude testing is not so simple . There is no test on earth which can reliably tests aptitude .

Aptitude tests such as the SAT have a historical tie to the concept of innate mental abilities and the belief that such abilities can be defined and meaningfully measured. Neither notion has been supported by modern research. Few scientists who have considered these matters seriously would argue that aptitude tests such as the SAT provide a true measure of intellectual abilities.

It was found that people could be coached to better their scores at SAT . The name SAT - Scholastic Aptitude Test could not be correct . So under such valid criticism the name was changed to Scholastic Assessment Test, since a test that can be coached clearly did not measure inherent "scholastic aptitude", but was influenced largely by what the test subject had learned in school. Even the College Board which conducts the SAT has beaten a hasty retreat.This was a major theoretical retreat by the College Board conducting SAT, which had previously maintained that the test measured inherent aptitude and was free of bias.

About ten years back , however, even the redundancy of the term assessment test was recognized and the name was changed to the neutral, and non-descriptive, SAT. At the time, the College Board announced, "Please note that SAT is not an initialism. It does not stand for anything."

The framers of these SAT tests assumed that intelligence was a unitary inherited attribute, that it was not subject to change over a lifetime, and that it could be measured and individuals could be ranked and assigned their place in society accordingly. The SAT evolved from these questionable assumptions about human talent and potential.

More and more people are questioning the validity of SAT . In the past MENSA used to accept high SAT score individuals . For the past decade it has stopped accepting SAT scores .

The whole exercise of deciding merit based on CAT scores discriminates against those from lower socio-economic status.

Though many non-IIM institutes have started accepting CAT scores, the application fee of these institutes is still inexplicably high.

The CAT is primarily an exam of Math and English. Logical and Analytical Reasoning is nearly absent (except for some verbal reasoning which again depends on knowing English well!!!!).

CAT is a clever way to keep those from lower socio-economic strata away Institutes funded with tax payers money .

So claims of '“Merit'” based on CAT scores is hollow and discriminatory against those of lower socio-economic strata.

Dhirubhai Ambani had a poor command over English . He would not have made it through CAT. So what "merit" are we talking of?
  1. Merit, as I understand it, is the quality of being worthy & better equipped for some thing, in this case the chance to study at the coveted IITs & IIMs. Note that, merely being better equipped doesn't ensure the success, it simply increases the chances. So, if someone has done well at the JEE, it shows that s/he is good at problem solving and is more likely to succeed at the undergraduate level.

  2. Like it or hate it, but you can't deny it that English is the language of business in this new world global economy. A clarification though, you can take JEE in various regional languages, but the medium of instruction at IITs remains English. CAT stresses on English comprehension, and rightly so, since for the managers, its almost indispensable. Dhirubhai Ambani was a genius, but even he didn't take any chance with it and sent his sons for the best education.

  3. Both the entrance procedures are biased towards those who had quality education in their schools. If you see the crowd at IITs, most of them are from the urban centers. Rural kids lag behind because they didn't get good education at the school levels. They either have to move to bigger centers to study, or lose out to their urban counterparts. This is the place where the government should concentrate if they really want to eradicate the bias. Curing the symptoms, by allowing them back door entry, isn't going to cure the ailment.

  4. The logic government is giving behind the reservation system is that this should be done to compensate for the centuries of discrimination against these castes and tribes (Although Ambedkar himself thought that 10 years of reservations should level the ground.) I personally feel that it would make more sense to provide help to those who are in a disadvantageous position today. Thus, reservations & financial help for those belonging to economically challenged families would be more appropriate.


barbarindian said...

I also noticed the spammer and posted a rebuttal as well:

Varun Singh said...

Well done, barbarindian.

Appul Jaisinghani said...

Nice debate.

Dexter said...

hmm...i read the same comment on other blogs as well where ppl were opposing reservation. interesting ... this guy goes around blogs and posts this essay of an comment :)

Anonymous said...

you said
The CAT is primarily an exam of Math and English. Logical and Analytical Reasoning is nearly absent (except for some verbal reasoning which again depends on knowing English well!!!!).

my response
take a reality check mate , go and give a CAT exam , before making this stupid idiotic claim.

Varun Singh said...

@anony: *I* didn't make that comment, neither do I agree with that statement. Next time, pay a little attention.