Affirmative Action in the United States and India: A Comparative Perspective

By Thomas E. Weisskopf | Go to book overview

12

Reservation policies and academic performance in Indian universities

In this chapter I review evidence available from India pertaining to the academic performance of the primary beneficiaries of reservation policies (RP) in higher education-Scheduled Caste (SC) and Scheduled Tribe (ST) students. Their academic performance tends to be relatively poor, for reasons that I explore. Finally, I discuss the available evidence on the post-university accomplishments of the beneficiaries of reservation policies.


Academic performance of RP beneficiaries

The availability of data on the performance of SC and ST students in higher education is unfortunately rather limited. In most cases these data apply strictly to SC and ST students who occupy reserved seats. Even when they include also some other SC and ST students, however, these others are usually few in number; so the overall data are very likely to reflect the experience of those who have benefited from reservation policies. In the following paragraphs I report on the most relevant studies and findings, in chronological order.

The earliest systematic studies of SC and ST student academic performance in higher educational institutions are based on data collected in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Karlekar (1975) reports on a survey by the University Grants Commission (UGC) of fifteen universities in the academic year 1965/6, which found that only 36 per cent of 4,100 SC students (in a variety of undergraduate and postgraduate fields) had passed their examinations. Galanter (1984:63) cites a Maharashtra Department of Social Welfare study of 1969, which found that only 8 per cent of SC and ST students earned their college degrees in the prescribed four years and altogether only 15 per cent ultimately received their degree. Even those who did so tended on average to receive rather low grades. Chitnis (1972) surveyed arts and science colleges in Bombay in the late 1960s and found that most of the SC students were enrolled in colleges the students of which tended to be the least successful in the University of Bombay examinations taken by most of the local college students. In any given college, the average academic performance of SC students was distinctly worse than that of non-SC students; and rates of

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