The issue of reservation among faculty at Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) is set turn into a source of protracted agitation on campus.
Disgruntled by the administration’s long deliberation over whether posts for SC/STs should be reserved at the level of associate professor and professor, student groups in JNU are now gearing up to stage a mass protest and call for a strike on Tuesday.
The opinion on campus is divided. But voices speaking in favour of reservation are now increasingly becoming louder.
The academic council and the executive council (highest decision-making body) of the university are undecided on whether the Ministry of Human Resources Development (MHRD) directive of 2005 and University Grants Commission (UGC) order for implementation of SC/ST and Physically Handicapped reservation at all three levels of professorship and the Other Backward Classes (OBC) reservation for assistant professors are legally binding.
Two council meetings and one executive council meeting later, the varsity is still inconclusive on the issue and has now decided to seek the Solicitor General’s opinion on the matter.
However, students and a section of faculty members are now dubbing this decision as a move to “stall social justice”.
“It’s a casteist mindset that stands in way of implementing reservations. JNU, it now seems, is not sacrosanct. The HRD ministry’s directive and UGC guidelines are very clear and there's no ambiguity that is being made out to be by the authorities,” said Y.S. Alone, a faculty member and a former council member.
JNU currently has reservation for SC/STs for faculty members at the entry level only, that is, Assistant Professor.
The issue of reservation at higher levels surfaced when in November 2009 the council objected to the varsity's advertisement for faculty recruitment. The advertisement for 149 faculty positions clearly stated that reservation would be made at all posts.
“The authorities think that this could dilute academic standards. This is nothing but a discriminatory stand. There are many professors of this category who have contributed well to academics,” said Mobeen Alam, an All India Students' Association member.
JNU Vice-Chancellor B.B. Bhattacherya said, “Let the Solicitor General tell us if reservation at higher levels of faculty is constitutional or not. We will go by the law of the land.”