## Monday, June 12, 2006

### Pessimisation, n.: Doing the worst you can, given the constraints

Bibek Debroy says that the word optimisation' ("doing the best you can, given the constraints") is related to the word optimism'. He read the scary Arjun Sengupta report and feels it warrants great pessimism. He wants to coin a word `pessimisation' for "doing the worst you can, given the constraints".

It does look like a gloomy time. P. Chidambaram defended Arjun Singh saying:

"Amongst all the instruments available to us for affirmative action the one that has proved most effective is reservation. Experience tells us that ... reservation has helped many, many, many members of the OBCs to rise in the southern States. I am totally convinced about that."

There are signs of movement towards job quotas in the private sector. And for comic relief, the CITU has complained to the ILO that India is trying to improve inflation measurement.

I wonder if teachers will respond to a reduction in the quality of student intake by grade inflation, or will weak students simply fail exams? Or will the government legislate to ensure that there are quotas for the number of students who graduate?

#### 1 comment:

1. I just fail to understand how a modern, market based economy can function without constitutionally mandated property rights. To me, the presence of property rights is as important as the functioning of a proper law & order and jsutice system for an economy to grow..

And its not just in the issue of reservations..I see serious problems with infrastructure development where private sector investment is sought..The Bangalore-Mysore highway case that is right now in the news is a very good example...

And as far as grade inflation/relaxation of academic standards is concerned, consider this:

"Here is what will actually happen. In 1990, during the first Mandalisation wave, all the institutes of management got a letter from the HRD ministry. It went somewhat as follows: Please ensure that all categories of students, including SC/STs, are evenly distributed through all grades of achievement and are not found bunched at the bottom. As human intelligence is randomly distributed and doesn't favour caste or creed, evidence of bunching at the bottom will be regarded as a dereliction of their duties by the institution.

Deeply disturbed, the faculty of IIM-Bangalore decided to institute special classes for their SC/ST students. But when the time for the first tutorial came, no one turned up. On enquiry, some of the eligible students told the faculty that they didn't want to be identified as belonging to the reserved categories. Not only would this create a schism between them and fellow students, it would also hurt their campus recruitment chances. When the V.P. Singh regime fell, the entire faculty of IIM-Bangalore heaved a sigh of relief. So did thousands of other professors in the country's other centrally-aided institutions of higher education (IHES)."
(Source: http://www.outlookindia.com/full.asp?fodname=20060612&fname=Reservation+%28F%29&sid=2)

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