UGC’s proposal to dilute reservations for university teaching positions

The UGC has suggested department-wise reservations in universities. Now, the ball is in the Ministry of Human Resources’ court

New Delhi: The University Grants Commission (UGC) has sent a proposal to the Ministry of Human Resources to change the way recruitments are made for teaching positions in institutions of higher learning. If the ministry approves this proposal, the number of faculty positions reserved in universities and their affiliated colleges for Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and OBCs will see a drastic cut. According to the UGC proposal, while working out the number of reserved positions from among the vacancies in a university, each department, not the university, should be treated as a separate unit. The method employed so far has been to reserve a certain number of positions as the requisite percentage of the total number of vacancies in a university.

This UGC proposal has come at a time when recruitments are set to begin for 5997 teaching positions in 41 UGC-aided central universities. This amounts to 35 per cent of the total number of teaching positions in these universities. If universities are treated as units, about 3000 positions will go to the SCs, STs and OBCs in this recruitment drive. However, if the reserved positions are calculated department-wise, hardly any of the new recruits will be from these communities. It’s not hard to imagine the impact of this move on the academia, society and Bahujans in the long term. Among these nearly 6000 vacancies, 2457 are for assistant professors, 2217 for associate professors and 1098 for professors.

P.S. Krishnan, a former secretary to the Government of India and an expert on the issue, told Indian Express that if department-wise reservations are implemented, the number of SCs, STs and OBCs on the university teaching staff will be extremely low.  

In fact, the representation of these communities on the teaching staff of institutions of higher learning is already negligible. This is especially true of professors and associate professors. Kamlesh Kumar Gupt, a professor in the Hindi department of the Deen Dayal Upadhyaya University, Gorakhpur, quotes figures to attest to this grim scenario. “Even this negligible presence of these communities has become intolerable to those with an upper-caste mindset,” he says. “They want to do way with even this.”
Ravindra Goel, associate professor at Satyavati College, Delhi, regards this proposal as a back-door method of killing off reservations. “The government does not have the guts to end reservations Constitutionally. Hence, it is resorting to such means so that reservations become practically non-existent or negligible.

Shashisekhar Singh, a teachers’ union leader and an elected member of the academic council in Delhi University, says that if this proposal is implemented there will be so many such departments across universities without a single reserved teaching position.

Chandrabhushan Gupta, a professor of medieval and modern history in Deen Dayal Upadhyaya University, puts this development in today’s political context. He says, “In the past few years, especially after 2014, people and organizations with an upper-caste mindset have had an increasing influence in politics. Sometimes, they openly challenge reservations, while at other times, they try to finish it off through some back-door means. This UGC proposal is of the latter type. The idea is to pave the way for a complete upper-caste dominance of these intellectual centres of science and knowledge by getting rid of members of Dalit, Adivasi and OBC communities.”

The UGC has based its proposal on a verdict of the Allahabad High Court that says that the number of reserved positions should be worked out for separate departments, not for the university as a whole. Durga Prasad Yadav, convener of Anya Pichda Varga Aarakshan Sangarsh Samiti (Committee for OBC Reservations Struggle), says the struggles of the reserved categories have become weaker, and the upper castes have become dominant everywhere, including in the court. He cites the situation in the newly established Siddharth University in Uttar Pradesh as a consequence of the verdict of the Allahabad High Court. Because of the department-wise method of ascertaining reserved positions, only one of the 84 positions – assistant professors, associate professors and professors – the university has advertised, has been reserved (for OBCs). If the earlier method of treating the university as a whole was used, at least 40 positions would have been set aside for OBCs. “The objective behind all these moves is to restore complete Dwij dominance over education. He warns that teachers of these communities getting reservations today will be few and far between unless we come together to oppose this proposal.”  


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