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US Supreme Court to take up college reservation case impacting Indians


New York: The US Supreme Court is set to take up next week a case challenging the legality of reservations based on race in colleges and university admissions that adversely impact the Indian diaspora.

The case questions the use of race as a criterion for admission by Texas University in affirmative action programmes saying it violates the constitutional guarantee of equality for all.

Universities say they are meant to help disadvantaged communities like those of African Americans, Latinos and Native Americans and to ensure diversity. The use of race in admissions sometimes turn into racial quotas similar to caste-based reservations in India and hurt Indian Americans and other Asians.

Indians, along with other Asians, are treated as the equivalent of a most-forward community and are therefore affected even more than whites when quotas are used by universities. The universities assert that quotas or similar affirmative action programmes are needed to ensure diversity in the student body.

Because of this Asians have been required by some of the top universities to score much higher than whites in the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT), a common entrance exam, which is one of the determinants of admission. This is meant to prevent the student body being dominated by Asians, who get higher SAT scores and school grades.

If the Supreme Court prohibits using race as a factor for admissions in the Texas case, more high-scoring Indians and other Asians will be able to enter Ivy League and other elite universities purely on their merit.

The case that the Supreme Court is to hear was brought by a white woman who said the use of race violated her right to equality guaranteed by the US Constitution as many who ranked lower than she was admitted while she was turned away.

Indian diaspora organisations, along with other Asian groups, have complained to the federal government about what they said was the discrimination faced by students from their communities in admissions to Harvard University.

Community leader Thomas Abraham told IANS, “Our children compared to white students have to be much ahead to get admission. Even if they are at the top of the class and have outstanding extracurricular activity record, they still face discrimination in admission.” He added, “My own daughter felt this when she applied to colleges.”

This was because universities were using intangible ways of grading to eliminate qualified students from Asian communities, he said. “We only want that the most qualified students should be admitted on the basis of uniform criteria and the right to equality guaranteed by the Constitution,” he added.

Abraham is the founder-president of the Global Organisation of Persons of Indian Origin, a former president of the National Federation of Indian-American Associations and a board member of the American Society of Engineers of Indian Origin. These three organisations, along with the BITS Sindri Alumni Association of North India, were signatories to the complaint against Harvard, which was seen as the starting point in their campaign to deal with the problem in all institutions.

The complaint said, “Many Asian-American students who have almost perfect SAT scores, top 1 percent GPAs (grade point average), plus significant awards or leadership positions in various extracurricular activities have been rejected by Harvard University and other Ivy League Colleges while similarly situated applicants of other races have been admitted.”

It cited a study by a Princeton University academic that found Asian-American students had to score 140 points more in the SAT than whites for admission to some elite universities.

The Federal Office of Civil Rights dismissed the complaint because it said a federal case on similar grounds was filed last year by another group, Students for Fair Admissions (SFFA), against Harvard and its outcome will be binding. That group has also filed a similar case against the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Harvard University has asked the court hearing the case against it to delay the proceedings till the Supreme Court decides on the Texas University case. Therefore, Supreme Court ruling will determine how Indian-American and other Asian-American students are treated in college and university admissions.

Quotas were used in first half of the last century against Jews because of their high academic performance compared to that of Christians. In its court filing, SFFA accused Harvard of “using racial classifications” for “the same brand of invidious discrimination against Asian Americans that it formerly used to limit the number of Jewish students in its student body.”


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Trump views 50 years out of date, may trigger disruptive trade war: Paul Krugman

According to him, immediate issue is going to be confrontation not with China, but with Europe as the "steel tariffs" will hit Europe

human rights
Trump is not taking his responsibilities seriously: Paul Krugman. Wikimedia Commons
  • Paul Krugman criticises U.S. President Donald Trump
  • Paul Krugman is a Nobel Prize winner
  • Paul says Trump’ actions can cause a war

Criticising the US President Donald Trump for his protectionists policies, Nobel Laureate Paul Krugman on Saturday accused President Trump of not taking his jobs seriously. Following the protectisists measures taken by the US President, there could be “risks of disruptive trade war”, he said.

President Donald Trump has pledged to avoid any new foreign business deals during his term in office.
President Donald Trump is heavily criticised. Wikimedia Commons

“He does not take the job seriously. He doesn’t say to himself that I am the most important official in the world; I have better do my homework for understanding the issue. ..He just goes that these are my gut feeling and hires people who make him feel good…that is a frightening prospect,” Krugman said responding to a query on his perception on Trump. On the economic issues President Trump’s gut feelings are “protectionist” and his views of America were “50 years out of date”.

“He wants America a heavy industrial country in the way it was when he was a young man. That is not just going to happen but he attempts to make it happen, which is extremely disruptive to America and to the global as a whole,” Nobel Laureate said. Krugman said he was until recently optimistic that Trump’s protectionist policies would not see the light of the day.

“Until about two weeks ago, I was quite optimistic that it would not happen. The reason was not because the President would get good economic advice but because the US businesses are invested in a globalised economy. All the investments the businesses have made is based upon the assumptions that the open trading system would continue. There is an enormous amount of fiscal capital and a large number of jobs are dependent on these value chains,” he said at the News18 Rising India Summit here.

Also Read: Trump Not Backing Down on Steel, Aluminum Tariffs

Krugman further said: “I had assumed the influence of these business communities would be sufficient… that it would not happen. I am less optimistic now…we have seen reasonably sensible Economic Council Head was fired, completely irrational tariff (was) imposed on steel and aluminium.”

The President also called for more mental institutions and hospitals in addition to the idea of arming teachers.
Krugman says these actions of President can cause a trade war. Wikimedia Commons

According to him, immediate issue is going to be confrontation not with China, but with Europe as the “steel tariffs” will hit Europe. He said there are possible risks of “disruptive global trade war”.

Speaking on Chinese economy he said, “China is a financial crisis waiting to happen. China is a widely unbalanced economy…the country is sustaining itself with a credit bubble that is waiting to burst…There is a significant risk of Chinese bubble burst.”