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Sibal retreat on faculty quota

New Delhi, July 1: Education minister Kapil Sibal today asked the IITs to accept faculty quotas as it would not be possible to grant them an exemption, yielding to political pressure a week after challenging the rationale behind teacher reservations.

“Faculty reservations in IITs are a fact. Any attempt to exempt them is infructuous,” Sibal told directors of the Indian Institutes of Technology at a workshop organised by the human resource development ministry to help prepare eight newborn IITs for joining India’s premier engineering school brand.

Sibal’s comment appears in stark contrast to his views, articulated in an interview to The Telegraph last week, where the human resource development minister questioned the utility of faculty quotas.

“You can only have quotas for teachers if there are enough people of the community concerned coming up through the system to take up those posts,” the HRD minister had said in the interview.

He had argued that faculty quotas would assist deprived sections only after an adequate number of students from these sections benefit from education reservations. He had reiterated these views in an interview to a leading television channel late last week.

But sources close to Sibal said sections in the Congress had not “taken kindly” to his views on faculty reservations and said the HRD minister was nudged to clarify that government policy on quotas would continue.

Sibal’s “clarification” on faculty quotas today represents the second occasion in two days that the HRD minister has publicly appeared defensive on his pronouncements after criticism from both outside the government and from his own party.

He had yesterday “clarified” that he would consult all education stakeholders — parents, teachers, the management of institutions and states — before bringing any of the reforms for the sector he had promised.

Reservations in government jobs — including higher education teaching posts — for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes have officially been in place since the 1950s. In the early 1990s, after the Mandal agitation, these reservations were extended for OBCs.

Several top higher educational institutions, especially the IITs, have however been opposed to teacher reservations. The IITs did not implement the quotas, claiming exemption, till The Telegraph revealed in December 2007 that the institutes never were granted immunity from faculty reservations. Arjun Singh, who was then HRD minister, had ordered the IITs to enforce quotas.

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