Quotas vanish in university teacher ads

Two central universities have shown how to act fast on policy when it has the potential to reduce the number of teachers from disadvantaged groups.

By Basant Kumar Mohanty
  • Published 16.04.18

New Delhi: Two central universities have shown how to act fast on policy when it has the potential to reduce the number of teachers from disadvantaged groups.

The Central University of Tamil Nadu and the Indira Gandhi National Tribal University, Amarkantak, advertised faculty posts last week under a controversial new policy on the implementation of reservation that has provoked widespread protests.

Of the 117 posts of professor, associate professor and assistant professor advertised by the two institutions, not one is reserved for the Scheduled Castes or Scheduled Tribes, who are entitled to 15 and 7.5 per cent reservation, respectively.

Only three have been reserved for the Other Backward Classes, who are entitled to 27 per cent of all posts. ( See chart)

While the Tamil Nadu varsity advertised 65 posts, including two for the OBCs, the IGNTU advertised 52, including one for the OBCs.

Ambedarkite scholar Kesav Kumar, who teaches philosophy in Delhi University, said the old policy would have required the institutions to reserve 30 posts for the OBCs, 18 for Dalits and 9 for tribal candidates - 57 reserved posts out of 117 instead of 3.

He said the government should have moved the promised apex court petition against the Allahabad High Court judgment that led to the new policy, and the universities should have waited for the final outcome.

"But these universities want to recruit as many candidates from the general category as they can; that's why they have implemented the new policy so fast," Kumar said. "It's an anti-constitutional act."

Until now, an educational institution as a whole was taken as a unit while implementing teaching job reservations. But last April, the high court said each department should be considered a unit.

The large number of teaching posts at a university had made it easy to set aside three chunks of 27 per cent, 15 per cent and 7.5 per cent for the disadvantaged groups. But if reservation is implemented independently for a department with, say, five posts, the initial split can only be: four for general candidates and one for an OBC.

A Dalit candidate will be eligible only for the seventh appointment - that is, after two teachers have retired or quit. A tribal candidate will have to wait years, if not decades, for the 13th appointment.

Following a challenge by an individual petitioner, the Supreme Court had upheld the high court ruling last year.

Prakash Javadekar. Picture by Prem Singh

Amid protests by various Dalit, tribal and OBC groups, social justice and empowerment minister Thaawarchand Gehlot had written to human resource development minister Prakash Javadekar highlighting the proposed new policy's harmful effects.

Javadekar's ministry set up a committee under University Grants Commission chairperson D.P. Singh, which recommended the government challenge the high court order in the apex court.

Javadekar then declared a petition would be filed soon, which has not been done yet.

On March 5, the commission, with approval from Javadekar's ministry, directed colleges and universities to treat each department as a unit while implementing teacher reservation. It asked the institutions to prepare a roster of their vacant posts within a month in order to shift to the new quota regime.

The two universities have now begun implementing the order almost immediately at the end of the one-month period for roster preparation.

Surendra Kumar, an assistant professor of history with Delhi University, has been on an indefinite fast for the past 10 days to demand withdrawal of the commission's March 5 order.

"The government and the commission must withdraw the March 5 order.

"The advertised posts must be cancelled till the issue is settled by the court," he said.

Emails were sent to the vice-chancellors of the Central University of Tamil Nadu and IGNTU, A.P. Dash and T.V. Kattimani, respectively, seeking their comments on the observations by the Ambedkarite scholars. They evoked no response.