BERITA DAILY LETTER: From Thinalan T Rajagopalu, via e-mail

Educational attainment is crucial, especially the B40 segment, to escape from the regressive socio-economic cycle that they have been part of for generations. This is especially true to the poor and under privileged Indian community in Malaysia.

They have been left to fend for themselves for years and compete on unequal terms with other well-heeled students.

The recent statement by PM Najib Razak has evoked the rhetoric of merit and excellence, a trenchant burden placed on students, particularly marginalised and poor without the same access as others.

Meritocracy, as correctly pointed out by Najib, has consistently failed to ensure equitable access and made universal access a distant, lofty dream to many Indian B40 in Malaysia.

There was a recent tragedy that beset Tamil Nadu where a girl, a young aspiring doctor, committed suicide because she could not get through NEET, a paper which is an entry level paper made for all medical colleges in India.

She is from a village with no or limited access to modern amenities and resources to get neither books nor tutors. Yet she did very well in her equivalent A-Levels but she still did not qualify for the top 3% required by NEET. The tragic death of this young girl who came to represent the discontent and anguish of the poor and marginalised against university entrance based on meritocracy.

Where do we balance the fine line between merit and quota? In a brush of oversimplification, Prof Ramasamy and YB Kulasegaran have dusted off efforts by the government and PM as political expediency, as its not long term and sustainable.

On the contrary, when PM launched the Malaysian Indian Blueprint promising sweeping changes within 10 years, they said that it’s too long a period and its just a political rhetoric.

It is bewildering to read comments by the YBs, as it does not attest to their position and experience of such calibre to stoop to elementary level when putting forth such shallow commentary. Cleary void of depth and knowledge in the field of interest.

In the midst of all these political cloud, we missed out on the most crucial aspect of all, which is the crux of the matter, are we empowering Indians with higher education to improve their livelihood? Does it matter if it is merit or quota, as long as we get more students into the university?

Let me direct you to these articles, in which one sums up the hope of a youth and another a reply from the government in what I would call a healthy discourse related to increasing Indian intake into university.

Perhaps our YBs here could educate themselves by first reading these before articulating their thoughts.

The government of PM Najib has indeed paid heed to this crucial element. Only recently, the government launched the Malaysian Indian Blueprint (MIB) to systematically intervene and necessitate the changes within the system.

The blueprint spearheads the effort to improve Indian intake and increase admission by its multidimensional approach. Each chapter in the blueprint funnels towards one main aim, to empower our children and the Malaysian Indian community towards better economic and social standing. In this case, increase in university intake.

YB Kulasegaran whips up another heroic fiction, that PM and the government never did anything for Indians. You twist reality to suit your contorted fantasy.

For higher education alone, PM has increased Indian intake into matriculation to 1,500 from a mere 500. As for university entrance, he has set a target of 7% intake into universities for Indians and recently ensured that MOHE to offer places to the remaining 735 Indian students who are qualified but rejected in the first round of admission process.

What about the recent Dengkil estate ex-workers who received new houses for free in PPR Ampar Tenang? What about the RM900 million for Tamil schools? The Mydaftar programme to resolve documentation issues?

Perhaps you were not aware of more then RM100 million disbursed to religious places of worship with the building of 13 crematoriums and 13 halls for the usage of Indians throughout Malaysia.

How about nearly RM1 billion for micro financing schemes which was disbursed under SEED or the RM160 million which was provided to over 300 NGOs in the last twi years to carry out programmes to assist Malaysian Indians, comprising single mothers, drop-outs, unemployed youths and groups with no access to market?

This too was done by empowering a 58-member team, headed by Dr S Subramaniam to implement the Malaysian Indian Blueprint.

We can concur that YB Kula is either blind or deaf to the many instances of Indian specific assistance rendered since 2010. Tragically, it seems even amnesia, as everyone in Malaysia knows that his current Pakatan Harapan chairman who undeniably caused the systematic reduction of Indian students in universities with his racial profiling.

Thinalan T Rajagopalu is MIC Youth deputy chief