Addressing the problem of education system in India may also be a possible solution to reservation. In a country of over 125 crores , we often lament that we do not have Nobel prize winning scientists, or Olympic grade sports persons. ( I will avoid this in this letter ). One of the possible reasons is our psyche and tendency of peer pressure to get their wards into professional lines. We see hordes of students going into business programs, commerce education like chartered accountants and into IT sections. Peers want their wards go into medicine field (to have label of “Dr”– including by being a homeopath degree – is social honour ) pay astronomical donations to so many privately funded medical colleges and so many poorly equipped engineering colleges.
While the Prime minister wants skill development or scientists to take the country forward and while the Prime Minister has right idea that there should be no peer pressure, there is no direction. In case of peer pressure he is not rooted in reality. Also, he has vision but does not offer solution. In the west there are ample opportunities for independent developed mind to switch his education line – from doctor to humanities to environmentalist etc. There one can switch professions too. We have no such provision. If a person goes to medicine he has no way to switch to engineering, pharmacy or other lines particularly after he realizes he is not cut for that line. (The film “three idiots” did dramatize this theme well).
The poor student now just has to drift with the stream. Even in medicine there is no way a person can switch to specialities by education from surgery to ophthalmology etc. He may take some courses but hardly enough to practice as an independent specialist. It is not uncommon to see students often miss out in their choices. A student wanting to become surgeon may have to change as per circumstances. The so called “Patidar Andolan” ostensibly was a result of some deserving persons narrowly missing out on their career because of reservation system. ( I suspect this is an excuse which has touched the sympathetic cord in masses ). To me a 22 yr old boy leading so many intelligent pragmatic people in patidar community is enigma. Frankly it touches the core issue – too much reservation strangles hopefuls. By the way it also does not serve this reserved class as they have less motivation – their initiative is effectively killed.
Therefore we should address the problem differently. In west most students have to graduate ( BA or BS – our B Sc ) first and then go through competitive exam to get in medicine or other lines. Direct admission are exception to exceptional students. Though it adds 3-4 yrs in education it has an advantage of developing maturity and aptitude. This incidentally is against political will as they even want half baked medical courses – students to cater rural population. But this adding additional years may have possible desirable effect – some may opt instead of long education to settle in rural urban areas. They may not opt for super speciality. In days gone by we used to have provision for few seats for persons who had B Sc. Now a days that system does not operate. We had few B.Sc. who were our class mates.
Here is my one suggestion for possible solution. There could be many.
- Offer – Reserve – 10 – 20 % seats to science graduates for those students who obtained more than 70 % in HSC. Encourage them to join B.Sc. – science education. Offer incentives – scholarships. To graduates who do equally well offer – reserve- seats in medicine or engineering or any other educational courses. Those who do not make it they still can opt for post graduation and even doctorates in science ( ?? partial scholarship ). This way there is increasing pool of brighter students available as scientist – They still will be Dr but with Ph.D and have decent opportunities status and economic status comfortable. ( Here I like to quote a recent comment from biotechnology head “ there is progressively decreasing level of available bright students year by year” )
- Those who have gone to professional courses in medicine etc. through B Sc etc will also be more innovative -productive- because of their science background.
Parents also will not have to shell out huge fees by asking wards to join privately managed- “donation” institutes. They -parents- can reserve that 80 lac to 1 crore plus available to their wards who are, now mature.
- Tail Pieces – (1 ) A M.Sc biochemist who was briefly with me in my lab went to US – did his medical graduation there and did specialty in family practice – practice for some years in US and now is running a medical NGO in a slum area in India Could he have been a medical doctor in India ? ( 2 ) The government for political purposes increase medical colleges in a state without even thinking of available teachers pool –which is frankly and sadly severely depleted of competent teachers.
By Dr Suresh Amin MD.