New Delhi: Such is the poor representation of Scheduled Castes (SC), Scheduled Tribes (ST) and Other Backward Castes (OBC) in the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) and the Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs) that some of these premier institutions do not have even a single faculty member from these categories.
Sample this: Of the 784 sanctioned faculty posts in 18 IIMs, just two are from the ST community, according to data submitted in Parliament by the Ministry of Human Resource Development (HRD) in December.
The situation is no better for SCs, who have only eight faculty members while there are 27 members from the OBC category. Around 590 of the posts are occupied by those from the general category while the remaining have not been filled.
Together, the SCs, STs and OBCs make up just 6 per cent of the total present faculty members in the IIMs.
The situation at IITs is equally grim.
Of the 8,856 sanctioned faculty strength, 4,876 are from the general category, 329 are OBCs, 149 are SCs and a mere 21 are from the ST community. In effect, across 23 IITs, including new and old, only 9 per cent of the current faculty are either SCs, STs or OBCs.
The figures come amid serious concern that social inclusion could take a further hit with the new University Grants Commission (UGC) order directing colleges to hire department-wise as opposed to institution-wise. The new roster system is expected to affect the reservation formula in educational institutions.
The Constitution mandates that educational institutions should ensure 15 per cent reservation for SCs, 7.5 per cent for STs and 27 per cent for OBCs among their faculty members.
According to the rules, however, technical institutions such as the IITs and IIMs can hire from the general category if they don’t find eligible candidates for the positions.
The premier institutes use this ruse, arguing that there is no lack of will on their part and it is just that they don’t find eligible candidates from the three categories.
Some institutes don’t have any SC, ST or OBC faculty
Of the 23 IITs, 15 — including the IITs at Mumbai, Kanpur and Kharagpur — have no ST faculty at all. IIT Mandi has no SC faculty while two other IITs — at Goa and Dharwad — have no faculty belonging to the OBC category. SCs and STs are just 2.5 per cent of the total faculty pool.
The IIMs, which recently became autonomous, are even worse when it comes to adhering to the reservation norms. Most of them don’t have a single scheduled caste faculty member.
Of the 18 IIMs that shared data with the government (barring IIM Ahmedabad and Indore), 16 did not have a single ST faculty member and 12 did not have any representation from the SC category. Seven of the IIMs had no OBC faculty. The SC, ST faculty are just 1.5 per cent of the total faculty pool.
“IITs and IIMs hire SC, ST and OBC faculty at the entry level only,” a senior HRD Ministry official said. “They need to advertise for positions. If they don’t find suitable candidates, then they can take others.”
Lack of qualified candidates, say IIT authorities
Authorities at the IITs blame the lack of “qualified” candidates for the dismal numbers.
“The reason for the less number of people from the reserved category in IITs is that there isn’t enough of a pool of people to hire from,” a faculty member from IIT Kanpur said. “First of all there are very few PhDs anyway who are eligible, and among that pool, the number of reserved category candidates is even lesser.”
He added that the IITs also have relatively stringent hiring norms.
“IITs do not increase the gap between required qualification for the general category and the reserved category,” he said. “If a general category person needs to score 10 points, a reserved category person will need to score no less than 8 points.”
Another faculty member from an IIT added, “Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe members complain that IITs do not admit PhDs from SC and ST category and it leads to less faculty in belonging to the reserved category but that is not the case. We cannot let go of merit when it comes to PhDs.”
Dean Faculty, IIT Delhi, Sudipto Mukherjee agreed that there is a shortage of reserved category faculty. He, however, told ThePrint that there have been special drives to recruit them.
“There is a shortage of faculty and we continue to have several vacancies at present. Though we have many applications with PhD, they do not seem to meet standards expected by the appointment authorities,” Mukherjee said.
“I do not see any special problems in recruiting SC/ST faculty. We have also run special drives in the past to recruit them.”
A similar problem in IIMs
Congress MP Rajeev Gowda, who has taught at IIM Bangalore and is aware of the nuances of faculty hiring, told ThePrint: “IIMs do not practice discrimination, however, there is a pipeline challenge. We need more people from the SC, ST and OBC category to qualify for the job.”
Dipak Malghan, associate professor of public policy at IIM Bangalore, published a paper on social inclusion in the elite management institutions in 2017. In the paper, co-authored with Sidharth Joshi, Malghan argues that the “diversity deficit at IIMs is a ‘wicked problem’, but one that should not be wished away”.
One of the reasons for the lack of diversity, according to the paper, is that the doctoral programmes in these institutes do not have a stated policy on diversity.
“The doctoral programmes at IIMs serve as crucibles where future faculty members are forged. A majority of these programmes do not have a stated policy on diversity or affirmative action,” read the paper titled Faculty Diversity at the Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs): A Preliminary Snapshot.
“There is definitely a lack of reserved category faculty in IIMs and they mostly blame it upon not finding a suitable candidate,” said a faculty member at one of the IIMs, who did not wish to be named. “But if it’s actually a lack of will to hire or a lack of candidates, they will never really reveal.”
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