by CIO Staff

India’s IT Industry Opposes Caste Quotas

May 22, 20063 mins
IT Skills

India’s National Association of Software and Service Companies (Nasscom) has opposed the reservation of seats for the country’s lower castes in companies and in the country’s colleges and universities, saying it will lower standards

The Indian government is facing large-scale protests throughout the country by students who oppose the government’s plans to increase the number of seats in educational institutions reserved for the lower castes. A hereditary caste system is firmly entrenched in the country, and the lower castes are large, organized voting blocs in the country.

Social discrimination, economic inequality and deprivation do exist in India, but the issue is too complex to be resolved by reservations and quotas, said Kiran Karnik, president of Nasscom, on Monday.

The deprived sections of Indian society have to be brought to the level where they can compete effectively by a variety of measures including scholarships, and improving government-run school education, Karnik said. In states such as Tamil Nadu, for example, students from deprived sections of society are competing very well with the rest for unreserved seats in higher education, he added.

Since the country’s independence in 1947, the Indian government has reserved a certain percentage of seats in educational institutions and jobs in government and public-sector companies for lower castes, saying that as a result of decades of economic deprivation, these castes are not able to compete with the upper castes for such places.

In a response to protests by students, the Indian government last week proposed increasing the number of seats in higher educational institutions so that the new reservations do not affect students competing for the unreserved seats.

Increasing seats will affect the quality of education, Karnik said. The size of classes will be too large and there will not be enough interaction between faculty and students, he added.

Once there are different sets of standards for selecting students, the quality of higher education will definitely fall, Karnik said. India’s outsourcing industry hires thousands of engineers and plain graduates, and currently only about 25 percent of engineering graduates have the level of skills required by the industry.

Earlier this year, the government also suggested that a system of reservations would also be introduced for private industry. The introduction of reservations for jobs in industry will also lead to a lowering of standards, Karnik said. Companies will not be able to choose staff with the skills best suited for the job, and India’s competitiveness will fall, he added.

-John Ribeiro, IDG News Service

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