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Quota fallout: Merit goes for a toss in GATE entrance

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As reported by Hemali Chhapia of TNN in timesofindia.indiatimes.com on 23 May 2008:

Quota fallout: Merit goes for a toss in GATE entrance-India-The Times of India

Quota fallout: Merit goes for a toss in GATE entrance


MUMBAI: Union HRD minister Arjun Singh's decision to implement the OBC quota has jeopardized the merit system for entrance to post-graduate courses across the country.


Students who have taken the Graduate Aptitude Test in Engineering (GATE) this year are being shown the door in spite of having very high scores. Ironically, several candidates who took the exam last year have qualified, despite having lower scores.


The anomaly stems from a notification that the HRD ministry sent to the Indian Institutes of Technology and the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, last year, directing them to qualify more GATE candidates in anticipation of the OBC quota implementation.


As a result, IIT-Kanpur, which organized GATE last year, cleared almost 4,000 candidates, twice the number of students normally declared as GATE-qualified in a year. The idea was to increase the total number of seats so that after 27% of seats were kept for the OBC quota, the number of students in the general category wouldn't drop.


Against this backdrop, sources said, the qualifying score had to be lowered last year to clear more students. Since GATE scores are valid for two years, many students who qualified with lower scores last year are eligible for this year's admissions. This year, the qualifying score was raised to 93.60 percentile as no directive to implement the OBC quota came from the HRD ministry. Therefore, many who scored in the 90 percentile in this year's exam have not made it.


For instance, Amit Jagtap, an open category student took the GATE last year and scored 325 for getting into a two-year master's in pharmacy course (MPharm). He was declared qualified. But his friend Suhas Solankure who has scored 406 (93.55 percentile) in this year's test has not qualified. Similarly, Jadhav Dashrath qualified with a score of 328 in the 2007 test, but Amruta Waichal did not qualify despite scoring 396 (92.73 percentile) this year.


However, responding to a Right To Information application, the Indian Institute of Science, the organising GATE institute for 2008, has acknowledged, ''Candidates with the same scores in the two years are equivalent because the raw scores are normalised.''


Most students taking this post-graduate entrance test sit for it during their third year and try to better their scores in their final year. For some, like Purshottam Pandhare, who qualified in GATE 2007 with a score of 329, not qualifying this year with 401 makes the assessment system a ''joke''.



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