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Faculty reservation in IITs: Ram Gopal Committee Report draws criticism

Faculty reservation in IITs: Ram Gopal Committee Report draws criticism

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New Delhi: Student organizations and SC/ST group condemns and criticized the new committee report chaired by Prof. V. Ram Gopal Rao, Director of IIT Delhi, that exempts reservation for faculty recruitment in IITs. The committee under the Ministry of Education was constituted in April this year including 8 members under Rao's chairmanship.

The committee was formed to suggest measures for the effective implementation for reservation policies in IITs. Students in IIT Bombay filed RTI and accessed data regarding the violation of reservation norms in PhD admissions. Recently AIOBCSA also has accessed data on violation of reservation in faculty positions at Central Universities in India.

According to the committee report "Despite being established and recognized as institutions of national importance under an Act of Parliament, IITs have not been listed under the schedule to Central Educational Institutions Act, CEI Act 2019 for exemption from the reservation". The committee further noted that admission to the academic programs at UG and PG levels in IITs are in consonance with the reservation guidelines of the government as issued from time to time and need not be remarked on. Ram Gopal Rao chaired report states the decision to implement a 'supernumerary reservation' of seats for achieving a target of 20 per cent reservation of women, that is said to be above the mandated reservation policies.

Student organizations like All India OBC Students Association, Students Federation of India, IIT Bombay's Ambedkar Periyar Phule Study Circle and academicians across the country showed their disappointment over the exemption of reservation in SC ST OBC faculty recruitment at IITs. SFI said in a statement that "without getting into the problematic details of the existing selection process the committee leaves the blame on the candidates from the reserved categories for not being qualified enough, thus promoting the casteist assumption of them being less meritorious than those in general category".

Jerome Samraj, an Assistant Professor and the President of Pondicherry University SC/ST Welfare Association criticized the Government for 'producing inequality'. He questioned the social composition of the committee, citing their aspiration to rank among the top 50 institutions of the world cannot be an excuse to avoid the social responsibility of a government-funded institution. There are adequate news reports about the implementation of reservations in these institutions, so they are already dominated only by faculty member belonging to Brahmins and other high castes. So, I am wondering what prevented them from ranking in the top 50?"

"If you compare the funds allocated to these institutions with the proportion of students these institutions cater to, we can clearly say that the government is producing inequalities. So, their laments that there are no suitable candidates and their intention of de-reserving the seats/posts is an attempt to deny any minimal space for the candidates from socially disadvantaged sections from accessing the higher salary, luxurious infrastructure and sophistication that is at least made available by the policy".

The committee suggests that the posts of Associate Professor and Professor shall be exempted from reservation while posts of Assistant Professor at grade one and two would have a reservation. The report also suggested the implementation of EWS reservation to PhD programs among the reserved category.

Ambedkar Periyar Phule Study Circle criticized the implementation of Predoctoral training program for SC/ST/OBC students. It has repeatedly highlighted the severe violation of reservation happening in the IITs through data obtained by filing RTIs. "The solution offered and how the committee went about analyzing the problem shows the committee's lack of seriousness towards the issue and the current changes in the education sector. IITs will be pushing the students from SC/ST/OBC into a black hole where there is no future and job opportunities.". A statement by APPSC IIT Bombay reads.

Meanwhile, the board observed that "vacancies that are not filled up with an adequate representation of SC/ST/OBC/EWS candidates during a year due to non-availability of suitable candidates of these categories may be allowed to be de-reserved in the next year with the approval of the appointing authority for faculty positions".

Committee has pointed out other options if some options are not implemented which includes reservation shall be applied to the institute as a whole and not at the individual department level. The posts of Associate Professor and Professor shall be exempt from the reservation.

AIOBCSA talks about the inclusiveness and diversification in Indian academics "Committee was constituted for the effective implementation of reservation but instead of giving progressive recommendations and making the academic institutions more inclusive and diversified the committee is exempting the reservation policy. The recommendations are against the rights enshrined in Indian Constitution" they condemned the committee report.

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