Students and faculty members of the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Delhi led a candlelight procession to the residence of Director Prof Surendra Prasad on Saturday evening.
The group also submitted a petition opposing the June 9 government order sent to all IITs stating that “15 per cent, 7.5 per cent and 27 per cent teaching positions be reserved for SC, ST and OBC categories respectively”.
At least 170 people, including 45 faculty members, took part in the protest march that took place inside the IIT Delhi campus.
"We have started an online petition and urge students, faculty and alumni to sign up to protest the implementation of quota in teaching positions at IITs. We are also circulating a hardcopy of the petition for supporters," said Abhijith Jayanthi, a fourth-year student of electrical engineering.
The march was held across three campuses — Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore. "People who are really talented will get through irrespective of quota because we have so many vacancies and few people," said Prof M. Balakrishnan, Dean, Post Graduate Research and Studies.
At present IIT Delhi has a 8 per cent deficit in faculty recruitment.
"The Supreme Court guidelines say that a graduate cannot be considered a backward. Then how can a PhD holder be considered backward," said Jayanthi. "The government is actually violating the SC order," he said.
Faculty and students also fear that fall in standards will discourage good people from joining IITs.
"Despite better opportunities and pay scales, people come to teach at the IITs because of the excellent academic environment and quality of students and colleagues. Reservation will strike at the very root of this motivation," said Balakrishnan.
Presently, IITs have reservations for backward category candidates only in administrative posts, from attendants to the level of deputy registrar.
"Jawaharlal Nehru wanted the IITs to be world-class institutions. But Arjun Singh has no interest in making IITs qualitatively better," said former director of IIT Madras, Prof Indrasen.
"How can we compromise as far as academic excellence is concerned?" he asked.