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Equality of Outcome
And why it's not a great strategy
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Recently I saw this tweet and I had a realization that this kind of politics can have (already having) a negative impact on the future of any country.
Even before I share my view, I am not attacking a political party, I am attacking this message in general and what impact it can have.
In case you don’t know what IITs (Indian Institute of Technology) are, they are one of the premier government engineering institutes in India. They are like the Ivy League of India. Getting admission into IITs is probably one of the toughest entrance admissions in India so definitely it attracts a lot of smart people around the country. In January 2023, in the IIT mains examinations, more than 800k people appeared for the exam. I am pretty sure a lot more of them prepared for the exams. Out of these students, only 10-15k people get selected every year to join IITs. So basically the conversion rate is quite low.
In India, there are reservations in these institutions for SC, ST, and OBCs which is a system of affirmative action in India towards historically disadvantaged groups. This is also present in IIT entrance examinations.
Now back to the tweet. The tweet specifically mentions that there are only 2% of SC, ST, and OBCs faculties in the top 5 IITs in India. So what is the issue? Given that it’s mentioned by a political party’s account it definitely has to do with, the message is quite clear - why don’t we have more faculty of these casts in the IITs? It clearly serves as a vote bank politics where parties are trying to get votes from people of certain casts.
Essentially nowadays a lot of institutions around the world: public or private are criticized for not having enough diversity (can be based on anything: sex, caste, religion, race, etc). This concept can be termed as Equality of Outcome.
Why is Equality of Outcome bad? Equality of outcome says that we should have an equal number of all kinds of people in these jobs or schools. This creates immense pressure on institutions to get away from their merit-based policies and adopt an equality of outcome approach. What does it lead to?
Imagine a government hospital following this and don’t have competent doctors.
Imagine an airline company that follows these rules and doesn’t have competent engineers.
Imagine a premier engineering institutes where faculties are decided by equality of outcomes and not merit.
Imagine if a country’s military does that and now admits people based on diversity but not merit.
What would that world look like? There will be more accidents, more plane crashes, less technological innovations.
This also has a very negative effect on the people who are actually smart in these underprivileged communities but due to these policies, they are forced to believe that they are not smart so they can get reservations. They are eventually also looked upon thinking that they just got hired or admitted due to a quota.
I do agree that there could be something that could be done to make sure that historically disadvantaged communities get equal opportunities. I am in favor of giving equal opportunities in terms of, for example maybe giving more resources for education, financial support for education, etc. But selection should be merit-based.
The focus should be on Equality of opportunities instead of Equality of outcomes.
People who consistently advocate for equality of outcome are quite short-sighted. You can see this in the United States and in India. The longer-term effects of these are very bad and you can have unqualified people in the workforce which can lead to the decline of an organization/country.
Coming back to the original tweet, If IITs start focusing on Equality of Outcome in hiring faculties, that can lead to a very bad outcome in terms of the level of education the institute provides.