Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The Allan Bakke Case

I just read the following news item:

“Women candidates appearing for competitive exams conducted by Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) and Staff Selection Commission (SSC) will not have to pay fee while applying for central government jobs.”

I am just wondering if this kind gesture should be need based or gender based. If it is part of the efforts to increase representation of women in central government jobs, this exemption from paying fee should be extended to financially disadvantaged women. Not to all women.

Then I remembered about the famous Allan Bakke case in USA. Here it is:

Allan Bakke was born in 1940. He received his bachelors degree in Engineering from the University of Minnesota. He then served 4 years with the U.S. Marines in Vietnam. After returning from home, he obtained a masters degree from Stanford. He got a job with NASA near San Francisco. At NASA he was involved with testing the effects of weightlessness and radiation on animals. This work increased his interest in medicine.

In 1972, he applied for admission into medical school at the University of California, Davis. His MCAT score was above the 90th percentile in 3 out of 4 categories. UC Davis admitted 100 students in medical school every year. They “reserved” 16 seats for “economically or educationally disadvantaged” candidates. He had a lesser score than those in the general admission pool. He reapplied in 1973 and was rejected. Even the dean of the UC Davis Medical School thought that the faculty was of the view that “disadvantaged” means “membership in a minority race”.

When Bakke was rejected again in 1974, he sued UC Davis for discrimination.

Even though the lower court judge agreed with Bakke, he refused to order Bakke’s admission. He appealed the decision to the California Supreme Court. The California Supreme Court voided the minority recruitment program of UC Davis as unconstitutional.

UC Davis appealed this decision to the U.S. Supreme Court. In 1978, U.S. Supreme Court decided the case. It ruled that while the University can take race into account to have a diversified student body, it cannot reserve a specific number of seats for students of color. It also ordered U.C. Davis to admit Bakke in the medical school.

In the meantime, Bakke was married and had 3 children. He went to UC Davis in the fall of 1978 to enroll himself. There were several TV and newspapers reporters and camera. Every one thought he will get himself admitted symbolically and will not pursue the medical course. Were they all wrong!!! He got himself admitted in medical school and graduated with an MD in 1982, at the age of 42.

Bakke is a very private person. He does not want to talk about this famous landmark case. He is now practicing as an anesthesiologist in Rochester, Minnesota.


  1. A friend of mine did tell me about the Allan Bakke case.

    Kudos to Mr Bakke for his perseverance.

    In India, reservations and quotas are planned absurdly. And few of them are obsolete but they are not ready to revise it. Even in MNCs, diversity policy for India is to have a healthy female ratio and its an objective to the management; which means it drills down to appraisal.

    To fulfill this requirement sometimes, misfits are recruited and a bad recruit destroys big time. I have witnessed this.

    It makes more sense to have reservations for the challenged and economically backward people than those based on caste, gender and such.

  2. You shouldn’t receive special treatment or get ahead in life just because your gender and/or ethnic background makes you a minority.

    Sonia Sotomayor

  3. This female quota seems had been made without much thinking. Quotas should b given to them who are either economically backward or socially. This is nothing but gender discrimination and anyway we all know that those who really need it never ever get the benefit.

  4. Thanks for your comments Insignia. I agree with your view on reservations.

  5. Thank you Ms. Sotomayor for your comments. Special treatment based on gender or ethnic background is not a good idea.

    Hope you are confirmed by the U.S. Senate for Supreme Court. I hope the U.S. Senate ignores the following racist remarks you made in 2001.

    "I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn't lived that life," Sonia Sotomayor.

  6. Thanks for your comments Nazish. You are right. Those who really need it never ever get the benefit.

  7. Reservations should be for only the economically weaker sections, and not based on gender, caste, sex or religion.
    If we do that they we can only expect sub-standard professinals.We can not hope to progress as a country.

  8. Thanks Aparna for your comments. I agree that reservations are only for the economically weaker section. And, thanks for visiting my blog. Please visit this blog as often as you want to.

  9. I hate gender bias--in any form :-(

  10. What an inspirational story. I love your blog, I seriously do...

  11. u seriously inspired me sg.. i am seriously nw considering a higher studies.. atleast after 2-3 years of work.. if not a doctor.. maybe a sureshot masters in medical electronics.. since am doin bachelors in electronics.. thanks a lot for the story..

    the biasing in india is something which can be removed only through a good visionary leader..

  12. It indeed happens here in India, n if someone like Allan Bakke comes forward against the rule, justice cannot be guaranteed. As far as Indian rule goes, the judiciary that took decades to punish the cruel accused of Bhopal gas tragedy,the one that is still feeding the terrorist Kasab, and the one that has lot of loopholes, one can barely take the risk to sue the government.Perhaps that's the mentality residents of India are born into, Why one try to risk an entire lifetime fighting over a public case , and that's it, In India resolving a case means a time of a lifetime wasted against it. and so the public hardly revolts. they are very much immune to deeds of the system

  13. Sonia Sotomayor actually supports affirmative action. Whoever is posting on her behalf clearly does not know what he or she is talking about.


  14. I well remember the Bakke case. I was totally taken aback by the Supreme Court's ruling. How could The Court claim "reverse discrimination" when whites have always been the beneficiary of Affirmation Action since the founding of America? Every time something is done to try to "even the playing field" for Black people,who have endured the worse kind of physical and emotional emasculation, others are always trying to "get in on the action". Case in point, the case before the Court now. The homosexual community is claiming discrimination and bigotry, wrapping themselves in the Black experience, when everyone knows there is no correlation, just as there was none in the Bakke case.

    k case.

  15. Bakke would never gotten admitted to any medical no matter what his test scores were. Look at the age cutoff for admission to Med school. They DISCRIMINATE against anyone over 30, unless they have political influence to get in.

  16. why didn't you take down the fake Sotomayor post?

    1. This is a free country. Everyone has a right to express their opinion. As the blog writer, I may not agree with the comments but I will surely publish them.