OF THE 700-odd vacancies for teaching posts generated across several universities since the University Grants Commission’s (UGC) March 2018 circular on a new formula for reservation, only 2.5 per cent posts have been made available for Scheduled Caste candidates and none for those from Scheduled Tribes.
This data was revealed during inter-ministerial consultations for issuing an ordinance to overturn the circular and the court order that treats departments/ subjects as a unit for implementing reservation, instead of taking the university/ college as a whole. The Union government has put the recruitment process on hold.
Based on these findings, the Ministry of Human Resource Development (HRD) recently sent a proposal to amend the ‘UGC Guidelines for Implementation of Reservation Policy, 2006’ to the Union Cabinet. The Cabinet note pointed out that the very objective of reservation had been subverted by the new UGC formula.
This is evident from the advertisements put out by 11 universities for recruitment of faculty since March 2018. According to data compiled by the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment in the course of the inter-ministerial consultations, a total of 706 vacancies were advertised by these universities.
Of these, only 18 were reserved for SCs, in just four universities in Varanasi, Jharkhand and Allahabad. Not a single university released even one post for ST candidates. SC and ST candidates are eligible to get 15 and 7.5 per cent quota respectively at the level of professors, assistant professors and associate professors.
Fifty-seven positions were reserved for candidates belonging to Other Backward Classes (OBC), which works out to just 8 per cent — the rules provide for 27 per cent reservation for OBC candidates at the level of assistant professors only.
The universities that issued these advertisements include the Indira Gandhi Tribal University, Banaras Hindu University, Sampurnanand Sanskrit Vishwavidyalaya (Varanasi), University of Allahabad, Chhatrapati Shahu Ji Maharaj University (Kanpur), Atal Bihari Vajpayee Hindi Vishwavidyalaya (Bhopal) as well as the central universities of Tamil Nadu, Rajasthan, Haryana, Punjab and Jharkhand.
The proposed amendment to clauses 6 and 8 of the UGC guidelines, if passed, will restore the original provision whereby the university is treated as a unit. “The Cabinet note has specified that the UGC circular amending the guidelines affects the very objective of the reservation policy. Faculty posts for SC/ ST candidates have been effectively reduced to next to nothing,” said official sources. The guidelines are applicable to all central, state and deemed universities receiving grant-in-aid (except minority institutions).
“A university may release anywhere from 10 to over a hundred positions at a time. But no single department will have even 10 teaching positions available at one time. The old roster system, which takes the university as a unit, ensured that every fourth position is reserved for OBC, seventh for SC, and 14th for ST candidate. With the department taken as unit, the appointment of Dalit and Adivasi candidates has suffered badly,” said government sources.
The UGC circular was issued following an Allahabad High Court order of April 2017, that was upheld by the Supreme Court. The order, in a petition filed by candidates applying to Banaras Hindu University, had said that if the university is taken as a unit for implementing reservation, it could lead to some departments having all reserved candidates and some not having any. The order asked the UGC to “examine all aspects and submit its recommendations to the MHRD”.
“The UGC, instead of basing its recommendations on the analysis of the court order’s implications, went ahead and issued a circular that affected appointments to all universities. The government’s Special Leave Petition filed in the matter is still pending admission before the Supreme Court as the 90-day period for challenging the judgment has long lapsed. Since Parliament is not in session and representation of SC/ ST candidates to faculty positions is greatly hit, the only way out is to promulgate an ordinance to overturn the order,” said sources.
A couple of months back, the Centre put the recruitment process on hold, pending decision on the SLP in the court.
While the dilution of the Prevention of Atrocities Act by the apex court was reversed by Parliament through an Act during the recent monsoon session, the lack of swift action on the UGC circular has been a bone of contention for Dalit and Adivasi rights groups. Already, of the 12.84 lakh teachers in India’s higher education institutions, as per the 2017-18 report of the All India Survey on Higher Education, only 8.6 per cent are SCs, 2.3 per cent are STs, and 32 per cent are OBCs.