New Delhi: Central universities across the country have as many as 313 professor-level posts sanctioned for candidates belonging to Other Backward Classes (OBCs), but appointments have been made for only 2.8 per cent of these posts as of August 2020.
According to latest University Grants Commission (UGC) data accessed by ThePrint, there are currently only nine OBC professors teaching in the central universities across India, leaving 304 posts sanctioned under the quota vacant.
The data also shows several central universities such as Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), Delhi University (DU), Banaras Hindu University (BHU) and Allahabad University, among others, had not appointed a single professor under OBC quota as of 1 January 2020.
The situation is marginally better at the associate professor level, where 5.17 per cent of the sanctioned OBC posts have been filled. While the number of sanctioned posts at this level across central universities is 735, those filled are 38.
It is at the assistant professor level where OBCs have better representation. Nearly 60 per cent of the sanctioned seats for OBCs have been filled at this level. Against 2,232 sanctioned posts, 1,327 have been filled.
The situation comes to light at a time when the Centre is looking at changing the definition of the “creamy layer” in OBC reservation by including salary as a component to determine the income ceiling. The move has been resisted by several OBC MPs from the BJP, besides the National Backward Classes Commission (NCBC).
Both OBC MPs and the NCBC are of the view that tweaking the creamy layer definition in this fashion would further reduce their scanty representation in government institutions.
At a meeting last month, Home Minister Amit Shah had asked the NCBC to collate data of OBC representation across government institutions and departments.
“While we are collecting data from the government, it has been known to us that universities do everything to circumvent OBC reservation…This has been the case for many years, but nothing is done,” an NCBC official said.
ThePrint emailed the PIB unit of the Ministry of Education and Secretary, Higher Education, Amit Khare, for a comment, but there was no response till the publishing of this report.
The central universities are universities that have been established by an Act of Parliament, and are under the purview of the Department of Higher Education in the Union Ministry of Education.
‘Not much has changed’ since 2019 ordinance
According to the NCBC official quoted above, the reason behind the abysmal representation of OBCs in top teaching posts is the fact that the UGC had in 2016 scrapped the 27 per cent OBC reservation, as mandated by the Supreme Court, for higher posts.
The UGC had in 2016 ruled that the 27 per cent OBC reservation in teaching positions was restricted to the level of assistant professor.
In 2019, however, the government introduced the Central Educational Institutions (Reservation in Teachers’ Cadre) Ordinance, 2019, which provides for “the reservation of posts in appointments by direct recruitment of persons belonging to the Scheduled Castes, the Scheduled Tribes and the socially and educationally backward classes, to teachers’ cadre in certain Central Educational Institutions established, maintained or aided by the Central Government” – thereby, again reserving seats for OBC candidates in higher teaching posts.
“However, even a year after that Act was passed, not much has changed…There are very few OBC appointments that happen at higher levels,” the NCBC official said. “More often than not, universities say that they don’t find enough deserving candidates. But is it possible that across the country, several central universities don’t find one OBC candidate who is meritorious enough to become a professor?”
‘No intention among universities to implement reservation’
The view is echoed at the university level.
“It has been many years that reservation in teaching posts for OBCs started but still there are a lot of posts that go vacant. This is because there is a lack of will on the part of education institutions to recruit OBC candidates,” said Subodh Kumar, faculty member at Maharaja Agrasen College in Delhi University who has also been a part of the institute’s faculty selection panel.
“There are hardly any advertisements from universities for OBC positions. Delhi University has not advertised for an OBC position in a long time,” he added.
Kumar, who is privy to the recruitment process followed and is aware of how the reservations play out in education institutions, added, “If you look at central universities, most of them have upper caste men as their vice chancellors, there are hardly any OBC VC, all these institution heads keep promoting an upper caste, upper class culture in the universities.”
Professor Narendra Kumar of JNU, who has also been a part of some interview panels in the past, said, “There are three reasons why vacancies still exist for OBC candidates — first, the recruitment process itself takes a long time. Then, because the OBC reservation came to government institutions very late, the implementation is taking its own time. Third, it is a new norm in education institutions these days that if you do not belong to a particular ideology then your recruitment becomes difficult.”
However, a Banaras Hindu University official, who did not wish to be named, blamed the situation on “lack of candidates”. “There are vacancies for OBC posts because we do not get enough qualified candidates fit for the job. Giving reservation is mandated by the government and we have to do it, but there is a dearth of candidates.”