Monday, March 13, 2006


I'm working on a story about technical education in Tamil Nadu - trying to look at flaws in policy-making (reservation for instance) and the affect of privatisation in the engineering education. The idea stems from the recent violence on the campuses of deemed universities and the TN government's move to scrap the Common Entrance Test of TNPCEE as it is better known. If you guys have any ideas, suggestions, opinions or better still experience of studying in one of these institutions do write in to me at I'm also looking to interview students and parents so if any of you are currently studying and are willing to speak on camera do leave a number. My deadline is 16th evening - yes 3 days from now!


Doctor Bruno said...

The Merit List for Admission to Medical Colleges in Tamil
Nadu gives and Interesting point

Read the full piece here at

Open Seats - 430

321 BC students,
57 MBC students
14 SC students will get into the open competition.
38 Forward Community

This literally means that students from BC and MBC score well than the Forward Community Counterparts

This also means that the students from the so called forward community are able to get LESS THAN 10 percent of seats available......

That is if 430 seats are available forward community gets 38

If 100 seats are available Forward Community will get 9 seats (38*100/430)

If 81 seats are available Forward Community will get 8 seats (38*85/430)

So WHEN 100 seats are available

FOrward Community will get 9 seats

WITH 18 % reservation for SC and 1 % reservation for ST
Forward Community is getting 8 seats

That means, reservation is giving JUST ONE OUT OF THE 100 Seats from Forward Community to the SC and ST

Why then there is such a huge cry against Reservation ??

How is this possible in Tamil Nadu ????? ie students from backward communities outshine those from forward communities

2 Answers for this question

1. Periyar
2. Kamarajar


Now if you want to know how is this possible in Tamil Nadu and not (at present) in most other states ......

It is because Of two significant events in the history of Tamil Nadu that changed the socio - economico - political nature of this land

1. Entry into Vaikkam Temple by Periyar
2. Noon Meal by Kamarajar

If backward communities are performing better than the forward communities,can we really call them backward any longer

Yeah... The back ward communities are faring better....... Can you guess the reason......

It was because of the Education drive initiated in this state 40 years ago..... by the MID DAY MEAL PROGRAM. (please check this link to know more

What happened in Tamil nadu is quite simple........

The then chief minister Kamarajar made the children from backward communities to study in the schools.... by providing free meals.... and scholarships and jobs

Thus came a generation of teachers and clerks in the 70s and 80s from these communities . The children of those people (teachers and clerks and other educated people) are able to compete with the forward class students.....

So We can safely conclude that reservation has UPLIFTED the down trodden........

In few years, there will be a scenario where the seats in the open category are grabbed by students in ratio that reflects the general population........ When we reach such a state, That is an indication that there is no forward community and no backward community.....

For example

When there are 100 seats if the backward community students are able to take 75 of them and the SC/ST 20 of them and Forward Community 5 of them (5% of population is Forward, 20 % is SC and 75 % is Backward) it is the time to stop reservation

In that case,is backward community reservation in Tamilnadu really required at all now?

As of now the backward communities are NOT ON PAR, they are little backward.... May be the situation will come to a level ground in another 5 years.... THen we can think modifying the present policies

BUT WHAT I HAVE TOLD IS FOR TAMIL NADU ONLY....... This may not hold good for other states because of reasons I have already told

Doctor Bruno said...

Society is like a bullock cart with two bulls.......

Now if the cart has to run fast, BOTH BULLS are to be good....

WHat is the use of a cart where one bull is very strong and another bull is weak........ The MAXIMUM speed of the cart CAN BE ONLY THE SPEED of the weakest bull....... So we improve the nutrition of the weak bull even if it leads to starving the STRONG BULL.....

This is what reservation is exactly.... You give the seats WHICH A STUDENT FROM FORWARD COMMUNITY WOULD HAVE GOT to a student from the weaker community, because ONLY if the weaker community gets a little stronger, the cart can move.............

Now what criteria to follow who is strong and who is weak.....

1. Economics........... It is a well known fact that THIS is the easiest factor to cheat.......... If we give reservations based on economics, the students of employeed sector will suffer....... WE very well know that you and me pay more income tax than the leading textile owner in your town who earns 2 to 3 lakhs per month............ Except for salaried class of people, how can you check the TRUE income of other sectors . Another factor is that wealth is not stationery.......... Many persons who had a comfortable life were rendered homeless after Tsunami or earth quake.. A rich person can become poor over night......... Many people earn well by their hard work and a poor person can become rich in few years (if he enters cinema or other art field for example)..... So MONEY is subject to change and can be hidden

2. Religion... Easy to change....... If you say that there is 20 % of reservation for those following Din-e-Ilahi, every one will embrace that .....And more over I can show you atleast 100 people who do not believe in god........... What religion will you fix to them.......And then there are people who believe that there is ONE God......... What religion can you give them............ and there are few who follow more than one religion (when both their parents are of different religion, for example)...... Other than the fact that Religion can be changed with regard to time, it can be hidden.........

3. Caste..... Because this system is routed deeply in our culture, WE CANNOT CHANGE our caste..... hence this was based as the criteria for reservation........ because of the various criteria we can consider this DOES NOT CHANGE WITH TIME

An IAS gets 2 generations of IAS officers due to reservation NOT the really downtrodden

This is what I wanted to tell !!!!

So... You have to give reservation for ONE Generation Only.....

That is reservation need not be given to children whose parents have enjoyed the benefits....

That is ......... If Mr.A has got MBBS seat or a Govt job by reservation, his children have to compete is Open Quota ONLY.......

We have ample proof to say (see the admission list in Tamil nadu in the link given at the top of this post) that Once you give an oppurtunity to backward class, the next generation are able to be on par with other people

What is your opinion guys ???

Doctor Bruno said...

Tharanipathi Kumar in his post "Achievements of Dravidian Movements" at writes

The improvement in the eduction

The knowledge of Sanskrit was essential to enter into any professional college in Madras province which deeply hampers the students from oppressed section to become Doctors and Engineers. The Justice Party after regaining the power felt this criterion was ridiculous and removed this eligibility which carved the path for the downtrodden students to enter into professional colleges.

This academic year medical college admissions witnessed the BC, MBC and SC students got the larger chunk of open competition seats. This noteworthy achievement has been made possible because of the radical change done 60-70 years back. Tamilnadu is the only state which has the larger pool of Doctors, Engineers and Lawyers from oppressed section then the other states in India and in some states still the professional courses are eternal to the same section.

Doctor Bruno said...

With the above posts, you can see that Reservation is the least important problem for technical education.

The most important problems.

1. Recognition by MCI (for medical colleges) and AICTE (for engineering colleges)

Even many government medical colleges do not have MCI recognition

2. High Fees even in Govt

Fees in Govt Medical Colleges in Tamil Nadu is the second highest in India. I have send a file to you

3. Very High Fees by Private institutions

4. Capitation fees (in SRMS, it is even 40 lakhs for few courses)

5. Lack of govt recruitment.

TN Govt has not recruited an engineer for the past 4 years.

Doctrors are recruited on contract basis for a pay of Rs 8000 per month

Doctor Bruno said...

After about a year of uncertainity (at last !!) the Honable High Court of Madras has given an historic judgement that Entrance in Mandatory for Entry into Professional Courses.

Though there is no doubt as to the importance of Entrance , there exists a myth regarding the process. I will try to clarify them


Remember that the 12th Exam is an EXIT exam. You are tested whether you have done your 12th very well. It is primarily an qualifying exam and not a ranking exam. The entire question paper is designed to check whether YOU KNOW or DO NOT KNOW and not to test WHAT YOU KNOW and WHAT YOU DO NOT KNOW. For that we need an entrance test.

Will you accept a new law which makes the person who scores first mark in MA English in the district as the District COllector. (he has already written and exam and so why another exam blah blah balh..... !!!)


Only a COMMON EXAM will offer LEVEL PLAY GROUND for all the students. In other words, you want to choose between two cars Car A and Car B. Car A gives 20 kilometres per litre and Car B gives 18 kilometres per litre. Which do you think is the better of both. Will you jump into conclusion that Car A is better because it gives 20 kilometres without knowing that Car A runs on petrol and Car B runs on Diesel.

As we have seen, without a COMMON DENOMINATOR, we are not able to come to the conclusion.

How can you then compare two students, Student A who has scored 90 % in CBSE and 100% in Entrance (if conducted exclusively for CBSE) and Student B who has scored in 95 % in State Board

Now come to another scenario. Ramu has scored 98 % of marks in 12th Stateboard in 2006. Unfortunately, due to a family financial problem , he is not able to pay fees. Will he be permitted to join Medical College in 2007. (If NO, then YOU are doing gross injustice to Ramu). If YES, then how will you compare Ramu who has got 98 % in a very easy 2006 paper (where the first mark was 100) compared to Somu who has scored 96 in 2007 (where the first mark is 97). Who is better

If you have an COMMON Entrance Exam in 2007 and if you ask both Ramu and Somu to write that, you can easily decide who is better


Now that you are convinced that there should be a COMMON Exam, let us see why that should be objective and not theory.

Theory papers are corrected by Humans, where as MCQs are corrected by computers and there for error proof. Of course, the only problem with an MCQ is the preparation of a correct key. On the other hand, you can be rest assured that the paper is valued correctly for all.

On the other hand, in a theory paper

1. Mr. X will give 195 for a paper where as Mr.Y will 196
2. Mr.X will give 195 in the morning, where as the same Mr.X will give more or less marks if the paper is the last one for the day and he has to rush to catch his bus
3. Mr.X will give less marks to a paper today if he quarreled with the bus conductor or his wife or both, where as if he hears that his name is in the panel, his mood will be different

You all know that the medical seat is gained or lost in a matter of 0.01 marks. Why should we leave that chance to HUMAN VARIATION.

Is it not gross injustice to a candidate that his life is affected because of an HUMAN Error.


1. Objective test alone can value all the students with the same scale
2. A Common test, Common for ALL BOARDS and COMMON for ALL YEARS is needed to give uniformity.

One more question : Which is the better way to value a student : MCQ Paper or Theory Paper.
The answer is Theory Paper. Then why am I saying that the Entrance exam should be of objective type. Wait …..


If you need to choose few, Interview is the best
If you are valuing hundreds, Theory paper is best
If you are valuing thousands, Objective is the only way to ensure equality

Since lakhs of candidates appear in 12th Exam, OBJECTIVE questions are obviously the best option to guage them with the same scale

What are the Myths associated with Entrance

1. Entrance is against Rural Students : This is easily the most idiotic statement I have heard for a long time. It is true that Rural Students are not able to get more seats in Medical College. But, is the reason entrance. Definitely NOT. This myth stems from the fact that Kuppan from village has scored 195 out of 200 in theory. That is 97.5 % . On the other hand his entrance mark is just 40 (80 %). He does not get a medical seat. At the same time, we have suppan who has joined medical college and his entrance mark is 48.
What every one (his parents) think is that THIS VILLAGE CHAP HAS NOT GOT THE SEAT BECAUSE OF HIS POOR MARKS IN ENTRANCE. So when Entrance is abolished, he will be getting the seat.

What every one misses is the fact that Suppan from Chennai has scored 200 out of 200 or 199 out of 200 in the THEORY. Even if Kuppan from village scored 48 in entrance, he will not be getting medical seat with a theory mark of 195.

Let us move to the next myth

2. To prepare for Entrance you need money. This is fully correct. But again, you all have missed another point. TO PREPARE FOR THEORY EXAM ALSO YOU NEED MONEY.

Every one thinks that the Rs 4000 to Rs 5000 spend on entrance coaching in one month to get 48 out of 50 is what that differentiates the village kid from the city kid. Yes that is true. But you all forget the Rs 25000 spend for 3 (or 4) different tuitions FOR THEORY FOR THE WHOLE YEAR.

City students outshine Village students. True. City students have good facilities than village students. True. CITY STUDENTS ARE ABLE TO GET 200 Marks in THEORY WHERE AS VILLAGE STUDENTS ARE ABLE TO GET ONLY 195. This is the MOST IMPORTANT FACT.




In short we have 4 gross divisions
1. City vs Village
2. Poor vs Rich
3. Educated Parents vs Illiterate Parents
4. Forward Caste vs Backward Caste

In all 4 divisions, you can see that there is IMPROVED PERFORMANCE IN BOTH THEORY AS WELL AS ENTRANCE

Now come to the most important point.

Which is more difficult
1. TO train to student to get 48 out of 50 in entrance
2. TO train a student to get 200 out of 200 in theory

Well…. I do not know what you will answer, but from my personal experience, my marks in Entrance was 49.17 out of 50 where as my theory mark was 196.

The BITTER Truth is that getting 48 out of 50 in Entrance is MUCH EASIER than getting 200 out of 200 in Theory.

If you cannot train village students to get 48 out of 50 in entrance and therefore want to abolish the entrance, how are you going to make them get 200 out of 200.

Remember that there are about 1000 candidates (out of which 998 will be from Chennai, Tirunelveli and namakkal and coaching centres) with centum in theory.

If there are NO entrances, obviously, they alone will be getting ALL THE MEDICAL SEATS, because the intense coaching, training, 5-tests-every-week-schedule are possible only in cities and "special schools" and not in village schools.

Village students, inspite of their hard word DO NOT USUALLY GET CENTUM because of poor handwriting and poor presentation – factors which play havoc in theory where as these are not needed in entrance.

Those having doubts about my opinion, please take a look at the "centum list" of 12th Standard State Board and see how many city students and how many (or less) village students in the 4 Main Subjects.

How many VILLAGE Students have not got medical seats because of their entrance marks INSPITE OF HIGHER THEORY MARKS than their city counterparts. (ie a student has not got seat inspite of scoring MORE marks in theory).

Village students / Poor students are not getting entry into professional courses because of their poor performance (relative to the city ) in their THEORY

posted at

Ramnath said...

You might want to check this blog on education in India. Very informative. I think Satya is based in Chennai. All the best for the story.

Anonymous said...

Hi Alaphia, Best 'o Luck on the story.

One thing I know is that a particular dude whose name starts with V is one of the serious blocks to quality technical education as he spends official time on his pet obsession called cellulars.

Jokes apart... I was trying to reach you after the SRM incident. Guess you are okay now.

Cheers and Keep the Party Alive...

Anonymous said...

Alafia,I have quite a few views on the topic which I intend to write as an article.Can I email it to you?

Alaphia Zoyab said...

Hi bnap,
Please do.

Aswin said...

Much of what has been discussed here pertains to recent happenings. These are important..but the ills of technical education in TN go much beyond this. Quality of faculty and infrastructure is very poor in most cases. This is largely due to the explosion in the number of colls. And the exam-centric attitude that is promoted in many of these colleges is just unbelievable. Some of my frds are still put through "model exams", "revision exams","units tests". This is schoolish and pathetic.

VHS said...

I have been a student of a self financing engg college in Chennai and the stint there has been equally agonizing and memorable. Following are some of my observations and hope you get a rough picture of the ‘flaws’ that exist. I am not focusing on the positive aspects (which are commendable compared to a multitude of institutes in India) keeping in mind the intent of your report.

1. Agree that Reservation is an issue - Reservations may be acceptable based on economic conditions rather than just caste, creed and religion. There is no point trying to build a roof without a strong foundation. In fact the ideal solution would be scholarships and trying to facilitate the learning process much before one has reached the threshold of technical education.

2. Students from vernacular medium may not be given a fair chance since they have to learn in a language which is more foreign to them than to anybody else. Often, by the time they cope with the syllabus, it's too late. There should be a well drafted orientation course for such students to set a level playing field. Ideally the focus should be on laying strong foundation before embarking on a career in engineering.

3. Just too many colleges under one banner. A humongous task even for basic operational work, forget aiming for educational excellence.

4. An entrance test seems inevitable. However, the objective test should not just focus on the skills a candidate 'would' have acquired from his schooling but also on what is required for the degree.

5. Running an educational institution is no longer a society focused initiative. It is sheer business. I am not generalizing, but there are institutions where the promoters pump in their ill gotten wealth as an investment to get, well, more ill gotten wealth.

6. It's a racket, a havala, a scandal - where having money and power helps. Ten lacks for a Computer Engg seat is not a fallacy. Talking about laws and rules? Then it's time for a sting operation.

7. You have to give in to the sadistic pleasures of the college management at times. Be ready to pay a fine for the most trivial issues. And when it comes to fund collection, you ought to be on your toes else your hall ticket is at stake. Not to forget that Red shirts can be a taboo in some colleges and interacting with people from the opposite sex might warrant the presence of your parent in college the next day. Colleges have even gone to the extent of installing cameras in classrooms.

8. A Secretary and Correspondent of a college actually made few guys strip till their waist and slapped them in front of the whole college. The students were involved in a case of ragging which is undoubtedly highly condemnable. The students would have preferred this ignominy to a police complaint filed against them. But then for a college that enforces a stern dress code isn’t it ironic that this happens?

9. It's difficult to raise your voice in college forget a Rang De Basanti act. Unions are definitely not an option. A solution would be a cell in the University where you can lodge your grievances. There may be one but not sure if it's transparent and serves the purpose. The complainant needs to be ‘protected’; else they would turn ‘hostile’.

10. Teaching is no longer a lucrative option for people and this results in a lackadaisical attitude. Many of the lecturers in the self financing colleges are a misfit and lack basic communication skills; fortunately there are still a few who 'teach' and are worth emulating. It's vital that we get back the lost glory and respect associated with the teaching profession and more importantly review their financial benefits so as to attract the talented pool towards teaching. Visiting faculty from the industry must be encouraged. Only then will the students get the right exposure.

11. The evaluation system - your performance in an examination may be judged based on the number of pages you write and the internal assessment marks based on the rapport that you enjoy with the lecturer.

12. Clearing a University paper with flying colours depends not necessarily on your performance in the exam but also in your ability to 'chase' the paper or get the question paper before hand.

13. Ever heard of ISO and Accreditation? Well listen to this - a reputed self financing engg college managed to get a few PhD holders a week before the audit and introduced them to the students as their HODs and Deans (just for a week). Talk about one's integrity being put up on sale!

14. Nothing can be more agonizing than trying to get into an engg college of your choice (even for the geeks). And all this when you have a plethora of colleges around with seats remaining unfilled? Why permit a college function in the first place when you can’t be assured of quality teaching and infrastructure?

These are based on my observations. However, a caveat - it would be inappropriate to generalize any of these. Any system has its pros and cons but the issue is when the system derails and defeats the purpose. There are blatant violations of the rules and little or no check on these. The educational institutions have to churn out employable candidates with the right skills and it is the onus of both the college and the students to ensure that. It's time the institutions turn more professional and the students work with the staff and management to build a force to reckon with.

Good Luck on your report… do let us know when it is going to be aired.

Alaphia Zoyab said...

So many questions for your most interesting comments. Please leave a mail ID. Tried searching your blog but didnt find one.

Anonymous said...

Alaphia,did you receive my email?