New Delhi: The Union ministries of social justice and tribal affairs are not in favour of a government-appointed panel’s recommendation that the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) be exempted from caste-based reservations for faculty appointments, ThePrint has learnt.
The panel, comprising IIT directors and others, was set up by the Union Ministry of Education in April 2020 to come up with recommendations to make the implementation of reservation at the institutions, in student admissions and faculty appointments, more effective.
In its report, submitted last June, the panel said IITs had been recognised as institutions of national importance by law, and cited Clause 4 of the Central Educational Institutions (Reservation in Teachers’ Cadre) Act, 2019, that exempts institutions of excellence, research institutions and institutions of national and strategic importance from granting caste-based reservation in faculty hiring.
According to sources in the government, the education ministry last year sought comments on the panel’s report from the two ministries since they are the main stakeholders with regard to reservation for the Scheduled Castes (SCs), Scheduled Tribes (STs), and Other Backward Classes (OBCs).
Both the ministries, the sources said, stated in response that government institutions doing away with reservation would be against the basic principles of reservation policies in India.
The education ministry, it is learnt, has forwarded the recommendations, along with the comments of other ministries, to the Standing Committee of the IIT Council. A meeting of the IIT Council will be held soon in this regard, sources in the council said.
Asked about the status of the report, an official in the education ministry said no decision has yet been taken on the matter. “The matter has been referred to the IIT Council for further discussion. It will then come to the ministry for any action,” the official added.
Led by the education minister, the IIT Council looks after the administrative and other important affairs at the institutions. Other members include MPs and directors of all IITs.
ThePrint contacted the education ministry spokesperson by email for a comment but hadn’t received a response by the time of publishing this report. ThePrint also reached the spokespersons of the social justice and tribal affairs ministries through call, text and email, but received no response.
Meanwhile, a member of the IIT Council told ThePrint that a meeting on the issue was supposed to be held but got cancelled recently. The council, the member said, is thus not aware which ministries have opposed the decision.
The National Commission for Backward Classes (NCBC) has asked the education ministry to launch an inquiry into the recommendations on the basis of a complaint it received, sources in the commission said.
Speaking to ThePrint in December 2020, NCBC chairperson Bhagwan Lal Sahni said the recommendations, if implemented, would be extremely “damaging” for backward communities across the country, and the commission would soon take up the matter with the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE), the apex body for technical education.
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HRD’s reminder to IITs to apply reservation
In a letter to IITs two months after the committee submitted its report to the government, the education ministry (then the Ministry of Human Resource Development) had told the institutions that they must implement the reservation policy as it is since the recommendations of the panel are under consideration.
The letter, accessed by ThePrint, sought to “clarify that the ministry has not taken a decision on the report of the committee set up for the purpose and also not issued any order staying the communication issued on 18.11.2019”, the letter, dated 28 August 2020, said.
Until two years ago, IITs were only required to apply reservation to the posts of assistant professors. In 2019, reservation was extended to all posts. The November 2019 letter referred to in the missive was sent by the then HRD Ministry to seek the IITs’ compliance with the new provision.
In its report, the committee that made the exemption recommendation said that, instead of quotas, issues of diversity must be addressed through outreach campaigns and targeted recruitment of faculty.
With inputs from Kritika Sharma
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It is interesting how the article states that the panel consisted of IIT directors and “others”. The “others” on the panel were the secretaries of the ministries of social justice, tribal affairs and personnel and training (DoPT). Yes, the very same ministries of social justice and tribal affairs which now are stated to be “not in favour” of the recommendations of the panel. How is it that the very same ministries which put out a recommendation turn out to be not in favour of the recommendations a couple of months down the line …
It is so painful to see even currently while commenting one of my online classes by incompetent professor is going on. Worst part is they just not only waste time and resources inspite there marking criteria is so bullshit. This really affects in getting better opportunities for ex. in research internships where cpi is so crucial. The way reservation is implemented is just too preposterous.
I fully support reservations in government jobs. However, IITs and other STEM institutes should be exempt from the policy. The students who are trained there need to go on to build rockets, missiles, dams, new software companies, smart phones, invent new technologies, …. They need to be trained by the top notch academic talent. Any compromise in faculty quality will have adverse effect on the future of the country. I would be in favor of increasing the reservation quota in non-STEM institutes to make up for any shortfall in backward class hirings in the STEM institutes.
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