Monday March 30, 2020
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US Supreme Court to take up college reservation case impacting Indians

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Source- Wikipedia.com

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.”

(IANS)

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Find Out How Restaurant Owners Are Operating Amid Coronavirus Pandemic

Restaurants Revamp Menus, Operations to Stay in Business During Pandemic

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Lucy Kwak paints a sign on the window of a fast food chain's restaurant indicating that the drive-thru window is still open as well as a takeout option during the coronavirus outbreak in Garden Grove, Calif. VOA

In the battle to keep their New York City restaurant going despite sharp restrictions during the coronavirus outbreak, the owners of Il Posto Accanto tried something Beatrice Tosti di Valminuta would have considered sacrilege in normal times.

That was offering their traditional Italian dishes for delivery, “which never, never, never, ever, ever, ever happened before,” she said. “I like my food to go from the kitchen to the table, and that’s it!”

On Friday, she said she and husband Julio Pena decided to suspend operations because employees were wary of being out in New York City, which is now the U.S. epicenter of the contagion.

“We respect their feelings,” she said. “It’s not like we were making money.”

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James Mark, right, owner of the restaurant Big King, talks with Jennifer Wittlin as they prepare for dinner take-out orders Wednesday, March 25, 2020, in Providence, R.I. Mark said pushing to restart the economy before the health crisis is over would put businesses like his in a terrible position. VOA

Across the United States, restaurateurs are transforming operations to try to stay afloat. The National Restaurant Association warns that the outbreak could cost 5 million to 7 million jobs and hundreds of billions in losses and is pushing for a special federal relief package for restaurants.

In an industry of traditionally tight profit margins, some decided it’s time to take chances.

Frisch’s Big Boy restaurants, a Cincinnati-based chain that laid off more than a third of its 5,000 employees in the first days of bans on in-restaurant dining, last week pivoted into the grocery business. Besides its signature Big Boy double-decker burgers and onion rings, customers at its 100 restaurants in Ohio, Indiana and Kentucky can buy bread, milk and and produce at its drive-throughs and carryout counters and via home delivery.

Frisch’s saw a quick jump in revenues at a time when people have been frustrated by long lines and shortages at traditional supermarkets. Toilet paper is in high demand, and Frisch’s and others are using it as a lure.

Westmont Diner in Westmont, N.J., has added it to carry-out options at 60 cents a roll, along with paper towels, soap, bleach and other household needs. Lindey’s in Columbus, Ohio, throws in a free roll with all takeout orders. Frontier in Chicago gave out decks of cards to homebound customers with their carryout dinners.

Some close

With the number of states with stay-at-home orders growing, some restaurateurs decided to shut down. Cameron Mitchell, based in Columbus, said carryout offerings weren’t bringing in enough business to keep his namesake chain of 36 restaurants in 12 states going. More than 4,000 employees were laid off last week.

Some fine-dining restaurants unused to carryout are trying scaled-down menu at bargain prices.

In Chicago, patrons can now carry out food for a fraction of the typical dine-in tab at Alinea, where nabbing a seat typically requires reservations weeks in advance and dinners can cost as much as $395 per head. Alinea now offers takeout meals of beef wellington, mashed potatoes and creme brulee for $39.95, and reports strong sales so far.

Meanwhile, in Los Angeles, Mayor Eric Garcetti said Monday that with Californians under a stay-home edict, restaurants are allowed to deliver alcoholic beverages along with meals to boost their revenues.

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Frisch’s Big Boy restaurant employee Nicole Cox bags up an order of toilet paper, among in-demand items including milk and bread the double-decker burger chain is now offering during the coronavirus outbreak in Cincinnati, Ohio. VOA

Sitting in the nearly empty Frisch’s “Mainliner” restaurant where the chain originated in suburban Cincinnati in 1942, CEO Jason Vaughn said customers at the privately held chain’s 100 restaurants have asked for additions, such as bottles of orange juice, quarts of soup and coffee for home. Frisch’s is trying to leverage its supply chain to accommodate requests.

Vaughn predicts the crisis will change the industry.

“People have changed habits,” he  said. “When the green light goes on, we don’t expect to come back as status quo … when we go to whatever that new norm is, we’ll see if we can continue it [groceries] if it’s a service the community wants.”

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In New York, Tosti said leftover meals would be given to city firefighters. She said the restaurant’s future after some 15 years of operation would depend on how long quarantining and edicts against in-restaurant dining lasted.

“I’m better at taking it one day at a time,” said the Rome-born restaurateur. “We can hope for a better day.” (VOA)