Is the JEE Advanced exam created by experts constitutional?
Today the Chairman of Board of Directors of IIT Bombay Mr Anik Kakodkar was in the news denouncing the MHRD Smirti Irani for running a casual selection processor for key posts. I guess this is as good as time as any to blog about something I’ve been tweeting. The most curious JEE-Main and JEE-Advanced examination setup.
Short story : The two exams are unconstitutional. Scheme was not just meekly accepted but designed on demand by our topmost academics without a whimper of protest.
Recap of JEE-Advanced
The Congress led UPA government cancelled the old method of selecting students for admissions into IIT via an open exam called the IITJEE. Instead they broke it off into two stages called JEE-Main and JEE-Advanced. JEE-Main uses a magic formula that combines scores obtained in an competitive exam normalized across various boards. JEE main itself is problematic (I have documented it here and I believe a case is still pending in the Supreme Court). The JEE-Main is however not the point of this post. The unconstitutional culprit is the second exam – JEE-Advanced.
To sit for the JEE-Advanced a student had to be in the top 150,000 ranks in JEE-Main. This also seems okay until you look at how the all important issue of reservation is handled. This is where the JEE-Advanced steps into ultra vires land…
The two-stage quota system
The prestigious IITs, like all central colleges in India have the following quota system – 50.5% Open ; 27% OBC (Non creamy) ; 15% SC; 7.5% ST. Even prior to the JEE-Main/Advanced scheme this was the ratio but as a result of a single stage exam called the IIT-JEE. In the JEE-Advanced we have the same quota ratio but it is a two stage process. So you might wonder why is a single stage process okay and why is @realitycheckind hitting the unconstitutional roof over a two stage process? In this small nuance lies the key – allow me explain the monumental difference between the two processes.
Lets back up a bit. The 2015 JEE-Main results were announced recently and the top 150,000 kids were selected to be eligible to appear for the JEE-Advanced.
CATEGORY Number of “Top” candidates
There is an internal 3% quota for disabled (why on gods green earth? but that is another post altogether)
Source : IITB JEE-Advanced website
Therefore the qualifying POOL itself for the JEE-Advanced which is the actual selection tool has been SHAPED as per the quota percentage. In other words the 150,000 qualifiers themselves are in the ratio of Gen 50.5%, OBC 27%, SC 15%, ST 7.5%. Based on this the cut offs are Gen 105, OBC 70, SC 50, ST 44. They then sit for the JEE-Advanced and fight a 15:1 race, which will again use the quota ratio for the end allocation.
There are two ways of participation.
- the natural participation principle – the entire population participates in an exam in the natural ratio as exists in the wild but the final resource is split by quota in an inter-se merit order
- the shaped participation – a preliminary selection stage SHAPES participation itself into a communal quota ratio and the final resource is split by quota in inter-se merit order
This might confound you but let me explain it a little more. You need to ‘get’ the following point.
The main feature in India communal quota system is that the “Open Category” is something that anyone can claim including those communities that are in the OBC, SC, or ST lists.
If you look at the eligibility lists for JEE-Advanced there are 75,000 General participants and 40,000 OBC participants – but what this does not capture is that the 75,000 General participants also includes a healthy ratio of OBCs who were in the common merit list in addition to the 40,000 in the OBC merit list. The unconstitutionality of the JEE-Advanced is rooted in this staged quota.
- In a single stage quota the participation happens first before the communal rules.
- In a multi stage quota the communal rules kick in and THEN the participation happens.
This is the right way to look at it because the JEE-Advanced Exam is the real deal and the earlier JEE-Main is just a selection tool to cap participation along communal ratio. It is like being prevented to even apply for a post because there are already X applicants from your category leave aside whether you may actually qualify!!
The scheme is not just constitutionally suspect but also academically atrocious. If the JEE-Advanced is the real selection tool – why prevent a General category kid who scored 69 marks from EVEN WRITING the dang exam while others can write with scores as low as (-18). This does not compromise the quota system in any way, so its not like social justice is being killed. Is this the kind of academic excellence that Mr Kakodakar and Mr Sibal and Mr Tharoor presided over?
Those who follow me on twitter on @realitycheckind will recall the parallel of two tier JEE-Advanced to the Three Tier Exams used by UPPSC which got into trouble at the Allahabad High Court.
Seen in this light, the attacks on Smriti Irani over her method of selecting some posts seem a tad .. staged. Two staged.
Prev posts on the behaviour of IIT Adademics under UPA :
1. Congress HRD and IIT Council invent a horrendous new exam https://realitycheck.wordpress.com/2012/06/27/hrd-and-iit-council-invent-a-horrendous-new-exam/
2. Crazy normalization formula invented by experts baffles students https://realitycheck.wordpress.com/2013/07/09/crazy-normalization-formula-invented-by-experts-baffles-students/