Editor’s Note: In 2016, only 8% of the students who took admissions in different Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) across the country were women. This figure is alarming, as it not only depicts the wide gender gap in these institutions but also reaffirms the patriarchal myth of women being inherently incapable of pursuing sciences. To rectify this imbalance, on April 15, the Joint Admission Board (JAB) declared that up to 20% supernumerary seats, i.e., extra seats, will be created for girls out of the total number of seats in IITs from the 2018 academic session.
When a panel set up by the JAB first recommended this solution in January 2017, an anonymous person sought opinions about it on Quora. Most popular answers on the thread argue against the recommendation, citing reasons that range from ‘reservations do more harm than good’ to ‘women are just as privileged as men’.
However, Samiksha Sarwari, a student of IIT Roorkee, in her answer, elaborates how many women are still discouraged from pursuing academics and smashes the belief that a student who takes admission under the reserved category isn’t capable. Read her opinion here –
By Samiksha Sarwari:
I am a girl studying at an IIT and I am grateful to my parents for being supportive to encourage me to pursue what I like, to provide me with all the facilities they could, despite the family income being barely enough for sustaining our (me and my brother’s) schooling, so that I succeed and become a self-dependent individual (which they believe is all the more important for girls, considering the society we live in). I am lucky. Unfortunately a lot of girls aren’t.
In my first year, I had the opportunity to visit some towns and villages for a survey. A lot of poor families unable to support a decent education for all their kids decide to send their SONS ONLY to good private schools (for India, “Private Schools are better than Govt schools”– that’s the perception and perhaps the truth, sadly). The daughters are either made to sit back at home to help with daily household chores or at most sent to govt schools. A lot of discrimination IS there and the percentage of girls not getting a conducive environment is very very high. Further, a lot of parents are too conservative to send their girls outside for tuition/coaching (forget about sending them away from home). Sometimes, a girl decides to step outside the house to attend extra classes for such exams but the daily eve-teasing, following, stalking incidents are just too intimidating. Despite all this, thank God, there still are 8% girls to be seen on campus.
So here I am with answers to some of the apprehensions of the already-into-IIT people opposing this proposal:
1. “Girls are equally capable and shouldn’t be given reservation”?!!!!!!
Reservation is not for people who are not good (if that were so, there must be reservation in IITs for those who fail in class 10 and 12), it’s for those who have been discriminated against, are underprivileged and do not have access to opportunities. And going by that, I would say girls need to be encouraged and compensated for all they have missed out on because of the kind of society we live in.
2. “We will be tagged as reservation-entrants and won’t be respected as much”!!!!!
Let’s look at the trade-off. On one hand, a lot of girls are getting this opportunity to get in, make good use of the resources and do better in life. On the other hand, at the cost of those 20% girls’ bright future, we want our fellow-mates to believe and say – “she might be equally good, at least AIR toh theek tha”. Do you really need that to go on in life? And for how long? Later on, it’s all about what you do in those 4 years at college, and what you do after that. 10 years down the line, if a guy who came in through reservation made good use of the opportunity to be successful, no one looks back and says – “Whatever man, my AIR was better, you just got in somehow.”, and those who do, who gives a f*** to them!
3. The recommendation for adding supernumerary seats exclusively for girls at IITs comes from the IIT panel and not some party in power. I don’t see it as any populist move and would like to believe it is a well-thought out decision. Also, what do we have to lose? We are not paying for those girls, they’ll pay as much. Extra seats are being added for them, there won’t be any rise in competition as such.
I request you to please think about it again from a long term perspective, putting yourself in the shoes of all those girls who are going to fight their way here.