Kamal Sinha> IIT> SC/ST


Schedule Cast or Schedule Tribe (or Dalit) students were rare at IIT Bombay, or other IITs. Steps were required to correct this phenomeon resulting from centuries of discrimination. While I was at IIT, there was a bold experiment done. A few SC/ST students were admitted for a preparatory program and then were put with the regular students who came through JEE. In case you cannot guess what happened, please read further.

SC/ST Students are Admitted

About 20 were admitted. Some of them lived in Hostel 7 and I became friends with two of them. Not many regular IITians were talking to them. I don't think it was because they were Schedule Caste students, but because there was a general impression that unlike others who really had to work hard and came on merit, these students came through back door, causing resentment. It seems like 45 percent was the minimum cut off score on their high school board exams to get admitted under this program. In contrast 60% was the general cut off score for getting a first division on board and I was not aware of any of the regular students who scored below that. In fact most appeared to have had scored 70-80 percent or more! Obviously there was a vast quality difference between the two groups of students.

Preparatory Program

By taking to them I found out that they were really excited to be there even though a few times they complained about not having enough friends from the regular student group. part of the reason was that they followed an entirely different et of preparatory classes. I think the program's duration was one year.

SC/ST Students in Regular Courses

It seems like they were allowed to choose their majors without any proper advice. The couple of students I knew, selected electrical (the toughest department) and/or mechanical (the second toughest.) I talked to them a few times later. All were doing very badly and after a year or so (almost) all left becasue of disastrous performances.

What Went Wrong?

At that time I thought this sadistic experiment was done purposely by the adminstrators in response to substandard quality students forced on IIT Bombay. A few students had expressed satisfaction by expressing that these SC/ST students deserved what they got. Now I think that it could have been a botched up experiment, so typical of IIT adminstrators and Indian politicians. As an end result it (nearly) destroyed those 20 some students' confidence and a few years of career. I wish it was handled much better.