Our country's high castes have always opposed the concept of representative power-sharing put forward through reservation. Proponents of high-class reservation, popularly known as economic reservation, are covertly and openly trying to subvert the caste reservation system by representing it as obscenity.
It has come to light that the reservation system is systematically undermined in the open while faculty appointment is being carried out in universities in Kerala. Most of those in the administration of our universities are of the casteist mindset and believe that merit will be lost if the reservation is implemented.
The acts of sabotaging the reservation system are not seriously discussed in public, as most cultural leaders and public intellectuals are followers of this anti-reservation public consciousness based on casteism. Now, the National Commission for Scheduled Castes, a constitutional body, has asked Calicut University for a detailed report on the irregularities on the reservation.
Why is there so much ambiguity, lack of transparency and mystery in the recruitment of faculties in universities in Kerala despite the tremendous progress the state has made in the field of education?
There is a UGC rule that the reservation and general posts in each department of a university and the university as a whole should be calculated in advance, and the list of appointments should be made public on the University website. However, the fact that the reservation list is kept secret without complying with this rule as if they were records concerning national security is an indication that the recruitment process is under the full control of anti-reservation forces in the society.
Universities must also maintain a register of posts, including general vacancies and reserved vacancies in each department.
Faculty posts in each category can be taken separately, or each type (e.g., namely assistant professor, associate professor, professor) is clubbed and approached, the notification could be released according to vacancies, and facts can be kept transparent.
Don't universities have an obligation to maintain accountability and credibility towards the society and the Constitution by making appointments transparent and publishing information?
Participation is essential for knowledge mining
In post-independence India, central universities and regional universities in the states were established under the concept of welfare state and development of project planning.
It has been our national policy to include the social groups and religions that have been excluded historically due to the caste system and prejudice in the higher education field. For the establishment of inclusive development and social justice in a democracy, inclusive education is essential.
The Constitution envisions community reservation as a democratic process that ensures participation in power and demographic representation of socially marginalised communities. Universities and other higher educational institutions are establishments that produce knowledge in language, humanities, social sciences, health, science, and technology.
The process of knowledge production and its exchanges in society must be democratic and based on social justice. Inclusive democracy and the concept of participatory justice in society are possible only if the historically and socially marginalised lower castes are involved in these processes. Otherwise, the field of knowledge production and higher education will be monopolised by casteist forces and elites, undermining social justice.
The reservation system is enshrined in the Constitution to prevent the control of knowledge by the casteist and capitalist powers, thereby avoiding the state system from being controlled by the nobilities.
Forts of caste discrimination
Universities across India continues to be the elite institutions that implement institutional caste discrimination and exclusion. Instead of inclusive higher education, the Dalit-Adivasi communities and Muslim minorities are facing institutional exclusion.
Indian universities and higher educational institutions still adopt an approach that excludes marginalised communities in faculty recruitment.
The universities and other institutions of higher learning are now following those practices of appointing faculties against the reservation system, such as not selecting reserved communities by concealing and modifying the reservation list, shifting reserved vacancies to general vacancies without compensating reservation loss and not appointing reserved sections in the general category. These are entirely against social justice and constitutional values.
Universities in Kerala have been doing everything possible to exclude reserved sections since its inception. There are many examples of conspiracies being hatched over the years against the appointment of Dalits and tribals as faculties there.
Anti-reservation groups have turned Kerala's universities into mafia strongholds by concealing the reservation list and keeping the reservation rules and regulations secret. They often serve their purpose by misleading and controlling vice-chancellors and the government. Many appointments in universities are made in the name of partisan politics by expelling talented candidates from the reserved and general categories.
It is the responsibility of a democratic government to ensure that the appointments of teachers in Kerala's universities are made transparently in compliance with the reservation mandates. The government should inquire whether the reservation system has been followed in university appointments so far. It should also ensure that necessary steps are taken to make up for the loss of reservation in teacher appointments. For that, the government should order a judicial enquiry regarding reservation violations.
The government has a solemn responsibility to suppress the anti-reservation mafia activities in the universities and keep them as academic institutions. Also, it should bring out the running attempts of undermining the reservation system in these institutions and find a solution for it.
(Translated by Naseef)