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Explained: Why are IITs resisting quotas for teaching posts?

Despite being centrally-run educational institutions, why and how have the IITs resisted offering quotas across teaching posts? We explain.

Written by Ritika Chopra , Edited by Explained Desk | New Delhi | Updated: December 23, 2020 12:24:33 pm
The Mahatma Gandhi Library, IIT Roorkee. At present, the 23 IITs reserve posts while recruiting faculty at the entry-level of Assistant Professor. (Express Photo: Tashi Tobgyal)

A government committee recently reiterated a longstanding demand of the IITs — exemption from implementing reservation in faculty positions. Despite being centrally-run educational institutions, why and how have the IITs resisted offering quotas across teaching posts? We explain:

What has the committee set up by the Ministry of Education suggested recently?

The Ministry of Education on April 23 had appointed a committee for suggesting measures for effective implementation of reservation in student admissions and faculty recruitment in IITs. This committee, headed by IIT-Delhi V Ramgopal Rao, submitted its report on June 17, the contents of which were recently reported in the media.

Instead of implementing quotas in faculty positions, the panel has suggested that the 23 IITs should be exempted from reservations altogether under the CEI Act, 2019. Rather than specific quotas, diversity issues should be addressed through outreach campaigns and targeted faculty recruitment, the panel has said in its report to the government.

The report states that IITs should be added to the list of “Institutions of Excellence” mentioned in the Schedule to the Central Educational Institutions (Reservation in Teachers’ Cadre) Act 2019. Section 4 of the Act exempts “institutions of excellence, research institutions, institutions of national and strategic importance” mentioned in the Schedule and minority institutions from providing reservation.

Currently, Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, National Brain Research Centre, North-Eastern Indira Gandhi Regional Institute of Health and Medical Science, Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research, Physical Research Laboratory, Space Physics Laboratory, Indian Institute of Remote Sensing and Homi Bhabha National Institute and all its 10 constituent units are covered under Section 4 of the law.

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What is the current status of reservation in faculty recruitment at the IITs?

The 23 IITs reserve posts while recruiting faculty at the entry-level of Assistant Professor. There is no SC/ST/OBC quota for recruiting at senior faculty posts such as Associate Professor and Professor. And even at the entry-level, if the IITs cannot find suitable SC, ST and OBC candidates, they can de-reserve these posts after a year, as per guidelines notified by the government in 2008. In humanities and management courses, quotas are offered at all three levels.

Under the above system, diversity among teachers at the IITs has taken a hit. According to the Education Ministry’s data shared with the Parliament in 2018, out of the 8,856 teaching posts across 23 IITs 6,043 faculty were, at that time, in position and 2,813 vacant. Of the 6,043 teachers in position, only 149 are from the Scheduled Caste (SC) category and and 21 from Scheduled Tribe (STs).

Last year in November, the Education Ministry ordered the IITs to extend reservation to senior faculty positions. The government had clarified that its latest order overrides all the past orders on exemptions too.

What argument has the committee and the IITs, in the past, given to seek exemption from faculty reservation?

The 23 premier engineering schools, in the past, have often cited lack of suitable or qualified candidates for the embarrassingly low number of SC, ST and OBCs teachers. The committee has argued against extending reservation to senior faculty posts stating that the IITs are “nation’s premier institutions and aspiring for top 50 world rankings”. The panel has said faculty positions cannot be kept vacant long (in case no suitable Sc, ST and OBC candidates are available) if the IITs have to break into the top global ranking. Low student-faculty ratio is one of the reasons why the IITs fare poorly in international university rankings.

Has the government acted on the suggestions of the committee?

According to ministry sources, the report is still under consideration, and the ministry has taken no decision on it yet.

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