The number of SC, ST and OBC faculty in all central universities is set to shrink significantly as the HRD Ministry is learnt to have accepted the University Grants Commission’s new formula for implementing reservation in teaching posts.
As first reported by The Indian Express on October 23, 2017, the higher education regulator had sought government approval for its proposal that reservation in faculty positions should be calculated department-wise and not based on the total posts in a university.
According to UGC sources, the HRD Ministry, after consulting the Law Ministry and the Department of Personnel and Training, communicated its go-ahead this week. The UGC is expected to notify the change through an executive order soon.
When his comments were sought Thursday, UGC chairman D P Singh said he could not offer an immediate comment on the issue as he was not familiar with the recent developments.
The new reservation formula is in response to a direction of the Allahabad High Court in April 2017. Hearing a case on teachers’ recruitment at the Banaras Hindu University, the court said each department, rather than the entire university, should be treated as the “unit” on which reservations are based.
The court was unhappy with the UGC’s policy of implementing reservations in a “blanket manner” and advised the regulator to revisit its implementation. The UGC’s Standing Committee examined 10 court judgments on the subject and recommended that the Allahabad High Court’s ruling should be applied to all universities.
The current representation of SC, ST and OBC among teachers in higher education is pretty abysmal. According to a government report released in 2016, seven of every 100 teachers in colleges and universities are from the disadvantaged castes. In absolute numbers, only 1.02 lakh — or 7.22 per cent — of the 14.1 lakh teachers in 716 universities and 38,056 colleges in the country were Dalits. Tribal faculty was just 30,000 or 2.12 per cent.
As per official data, there are 17,106 teaching positions at 41 UGC-funded central universities, of which 5,997 were vacant as of April 1, 2017. This roughly works out to 35 per cent vacant teaching positions. UGC’s new order announcing change in the implementation of faculty reservation will significantly reduce representation of SC, ST and OBC in all new recruitment drives taken up by the universities in future.
Currently, the number of SC, ST, OBC faculty positions are calculated by treating the university as a “unit”. In other words, all posts of the same grade, such as assistant professor, across different departments in a university are grouped or clubbed together to calculate the reserved quota.
Under the new UGC formula, reservation would be applied by treating each department in a university as a “unit”. This means the number of reserved posts at the level of, say, assistant professor will be determined separately for each department; calculated, based on the total assistant professor posts in each department.
So, a department with only one professor cannot have reserved posts as reservation cannot be applied in case of a single teaching position. But if all posts of professors across different departments are clubbed together, then there is a better chance of positions being set aside for SC, ST and OBC.
“This (decision) will significantly reduce the number of posts (for reserved categories). Instead of doing this, the government should have approached the Supreme Court against the Allahabad High Court decision,” P S Krishnan, a former Secretary, told The Indian Express. Told that the apex court had refused to interfere, he said: “Instead of private citizens approaching the top court, the government should have appealed against the decision. Ensuring equality is a national policy.”