The number of SC, ST and OBC faculty on university campuses could shrink if the HRD Ministry decides to accept the University Grants Commission’s (UGC) new formula for implementing reservation in teaching posts.
In a decision taken last month, the UGC resolved that the number of reserved faculty posts shall be calculated department-wise and not based on the aggregate posts in a university. The proposed change could result in fewer positions for SCs, STs and OBCs, according to P S Krishnan, former secretary to the central government and an expert on the subject.
The new formula is in response to a verdict of the Allahabad High Court in April. While hearing a case on teachers’ recruitment in Banaras Hindu University, the court held that reservation in teaching posts has to be applied department-wise by treating the department as a “unit” and not the university. Read | CBSE releases UGC NET admit card 2017 at cbsenet.nic.in, know how to download here
The court criticised UGC for applying reservation in a “blanket manner” and advised the regulator to revisit its implementation. “If the University is taken as a ‘Unit’ for every level of teaching and applying the roster, it could result in some departments/subjects having all reserved candidates and some having only unreserved candidates. Such a proposition again would be discriminatory and unreasonable. This again would be violative of Article 14 and 16 of the Constitution,” the Allahadbad High Court had observed in its verdict that cancelled the BHU recruitment and asked it to start afresh.
The UGC’s Standing Committee examined 10 court judgments on the subject and recommended that the Allahabad High Court’s verdict should be applied to all universities.
The UGC is learnt to have shared this decision with the HRD Ministry and is waiting for its “concurrence”. The change will be notified through an executive order after the government’s nod, said sources in the Commission.
As per official data, there are 17,106 teaching positions at 41 UGC-funded central universities, of which 5,997 are vacant as of April 1, 2017. This roughly works out to 35 per cent vacant teaching positions. Out of vacant faculty posts, the maximum are at the assistant professor level (2,457), followed by those of associate professor (2,217) and professor (1,098).
The higher education regulator has been writing regularly to all institutions to fill faculty positions on priority. Any change in the implementation of reservation will affect all new recruitment drives taken up by universities in future.
According to Krishnan, the number of reserved teaching posts in universities will be “much fewer” under the formula proposed by UGC.
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.
If the new UGC formula is accepted, 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.
“Take professors, for instance. There are fewer professors in a department compared to assistant professors. If a department has only one professor, there can be no reserved posts there as reservation cannot be applied in case of a single post. But if all posts of professors across different departments are clubbed together, then naturally there is a better chance of positions being set aside for SC, ST and OBC,” said Krishnan, who has worked in the field of social justice for SCs, STs and OBCs for more than six-and-a-half decades.
“If our goal is to strengthen India by giving opportunities to persons belonging to the submerged populations, who have become qualified, then we should interpret rules or make rules to enable them to come in due numbers. If our aim is to weaken India then we can interpret rules in a manner, which defeats the goal of reservation,” he said.