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DU has failed on national commitment to social justice, says OBC welfare panel

There are only 5% faculty members belonging to the OBCs in Delhi University, as against the 27% reserved posts, the committee said in a report to Lok Sabha.

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New Delhi: The Delhi University (DU) has done little to ensure due representation of Other Backward Classes (OBCs) in its faculty and is “failing on the national commitment for social justice”, a panel on welfare of OBCs said in an action-taken report to the Parliament.

According to the committee report submitted in Lok Sabha Thursday, there are only about 5 per cent faculty members belonging to the OBCs in DU as against the 27 per cent reserved posts.

The number of teachers belonging to the OBC category in DU is only 79 as against the sanctioned figure of 1,706. This comes to 4.63 per cent.

“It is expected that a university like Delhi University should be committed towards the constitutional ideals of ensuring empowerment and representation of socially backward people in the country,” said the panel, which was chaired by MP Rajesh Verma.

The report noted that the situation is more “worrisome” when it comes to specific posts. Not even one out of 174 and 67 posts of Associate Professor and Professor, respectively, has been filled, it said.

The panel has now directed the university to fill all sanctioned posts for Assistant Professor, Associate Professor and Professor within a stipulated time frame. It also asked the Ministry of Education to track the hiring process.

According to the report, the ministry told the panel in a reply that DU initiated the appointment for as many as 857 posts in 2019 and the interviews were scheduled from October 2020. By December 2020, 44 new appointments were made out of which 13 were from the OBC category.

The ministry further informed the committee that DU has been taking out advertisements for filling up faculty posts from time to time, including for the reserved category. 

“A careful perusal of 263 posts of assistant professor, 428 associate professor and 166 professor advertised in 2019, shows that when the university is able to fill these posts the percentage of the incumbents on the reserved posts of OBC will be as per the prescribed ratios,” the ministry added in its response, as quoted in the committee report. 

The report was about the action taken by the government on observations and recommendations of the panel’s earlier report on “measures undertaken to secure representation of OBCs in admission in PhD and appointment of teachers in Delhi University”.

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Rethink separate interviews, says panel

In its report, the committee also raised the issue of holding separate interviews for candidates from the general and reserved categories.

“The committee notes that the university has chosen to remain non-committal on the issue of stopping separate interviews in Delhi University for OBC candidates,” said the report. 

It quoted a Supreme Court order on holding separate interviews for candidates from reserved and unreserved categories to make its point stronger. In 2019, the top court had passed an order on the issue of appointment of an assistant professor at the International Center for Distance Education and Open Learning in Shimla. The court had said that it found the “process of conducting separate interviews for the post of Assistant Professor under general and OBC category wholly illegal”. 

In its order, the court further said that “if a reserved category candidate is in merit he will occupy the general category seat”.

The committee asked the Delhi University to reexamine the process of conducting separate interviews for reserved and unreserved categories and wanted to be apprised of the action taken thereafter.

Low representation of OBCs, however, is an issue across central universities in India. ThePrint had reported last year that there are only nine OBC professors teaching across central universities in India as against the 313 sanctioned posts, as of August 2020.

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