After yesterday's disclosure of data by the IITs, I found two newspaper reports on the results of JEE-09. Predictably, both played up the reservation angle (just as I did), but in radically different ways.
First up, here's Charu Sudan Kasturi's report in The Telegraph:
OBCs bust quality myth
Two of every three OBC students selected to the IITs this year would have made it without any quotas, 2009 entrance test details reveal, debunking fears that this year’s quota hike would lead to a drop in student quality.
At least 1,300 of the 1,930 Other Backward Class students admitted to the IITs through the Joint Entrance Examination secured marks that would have guaranteed them seats even without the quotas, details released today show.
In chemistry, the OBC topper notched 126 — four more than the general category (and overall) top ranker.
Next up, we have Hemali Chhapia's report in The Economic Times:
IIT cut-off falls to 18% for SC/ST students
A minimum of 35% is essential to be promoted to a higher class under almost every Indian school board or university. But you don't need that much to make it to some of the finest technological institutes in the country.
On Saturday, when the Indian Institutes of Technology released report cards of students who joined these engineering schools this year, it transpired that the entry bar for the reserved category students had dropped to a mere 18% (89/480).
The IITs were forced to make various concessions to fill SC/ST seats this year. Entry levels were lowered to half of what the last general category student who got through to the IITs scored. So, as the last general category student admitted to the IITs bagged an overall score of 178 (out of 480), the cut-off for an SC/ST student was brought down to 89 (half of 178). Till last year, the cut-off for SC/ST students used to be 60% of the score of the last general category student.
Even if she wants to highlight the fact that 18 percent is what the SC/ST students needed to get into the IITs, she chooses the wrong number -- 35 percent that one needs in Board Exams -- for comparison. The relevant number should have been the subject-wise averages in this year's JEE itself: 7%, 4% and 7% (in math, physics and chemistry, respectively).
In fact, one of the striking features of JEE is the very low averages -- percentages in single digits. Remember, this is an exam that students self-select into. Remember also that this is an exam for which they prepare hard and pay good money for coaching.
Given these facts, the single-digit averages are atrociously, horribly, low.
I'm sure Hemali Chhapia knows of no board or university exam with such low averages. And yet, she compares 35% in them against 18% in JEE -- a fiercely competitive exam.
Is Hemali Chhapia really this clueless? Is she being intentionally misleading? Or has she simply internalized her newspaper group's attitudes?