It is rather unfortunate that some colleges in Bengaluru are fixing higher cut-offs for girls for admission into pre-University (PU, or +2/XI-XII) because girls have performed better than boys, and the colleges fear that a flat cut-off would mean that girls will significantly outnumber boys in the colleges, affecting “gender balance”. This is nothing but punishing girls for performing better. The irony is that the proponents of this “affirmative action” are citing an order of Karnataka’s department of pre-university education that was meant to encourage colleges to admit more girls—the department had asked colleges to follow an equal number of girls and boys seat-matrix to ensure more girls were given admission. The order did not specify anything on posting separate cut-offs.
In Bengaluru’s reputed Christ Junior College, the science cut-off for boys and girls is 94.1% and 95.1, respectively, while in MES PU College, it is 92% and 95%! Similar cut-offs have been posted for the arts and commerce streams, too. Affirmative action is based on historic and continuing social disadvantage. While women have suffered such disadvantage in a deeply patriarchal set up—a reasonwhy there were fewer women in colleges—by no stretch of understanding can boys be considered disadvantaged in the particular case. Each individual case may vary, but as a norm, boys would have received the same opportunities to learn. Also, in the face of any fear of boys being left behind by girls, the focus should be on creating more infrastructure. When nearly every expert sees greater participation of women in the labour force as key to future growth, stunting them at the start is a cardinal sin.