Of 656 teachers at IIT-KGP, only one from SC community, 10 from ST: RTI data

ByPriyanka Sahoo
May 21, 2021 12:38 AM IST

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Only 0.15% of all faculty positions at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT)-Kharagpur are held by teachers from Scheduled Tribe (ST) communities. Teachers belonging to Scheduled Castes (SC) form 1.5% of all faculty positions and 4.1% are from Other Backward Classes (OBC), according to responses received under the Right to Information (RTI) Act.

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HT Image

The replies come a week after the institute suspended a professor after videos of her purportedly abusing students from SC, ST categories and those with physical disabilities emerged on social media.

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The RTI query was filed by Egalitarians, a not-for-profit group working for democratising the Indian academia, on April 28. Responses from the institute, which have been reviewed by HT, were received Monday.

Of the 656 teaching staff at IIT-Kharagpur, only one belongs to SC community, 10 are from ST category and 27 from OBC category. Only 88 of them are women.

There are three faculty positions at IITs — assistant professor is the entry-level position, followed by associate professor and then professor. The representation of faculty from these marginalised groups was worse in senior faculty positions. The institute does not have even one associate professor or professor who belongs to the ST category. Only two associate professors are from SC category and seven from OBC category. Among professors, five are from SC category and three from OBC.

According to government of India (GoI) norms, 10% of all faculty positions in IITs are reserved for candidates belonging to economically weaker sections — 27% for OBC category, 15% for SC, 7.5% for ST, and 5% for candidates with physical disabilities. Until 2019, these reservations were applicable only for recruitment of assistant professors.

A detailed questionnaire sent to institute director Virendra Kumar Tewari remained unanswered. Registrar Tamal Nath said the institute had a defined recruitment process for faculty positions. “We follow the recruitment process of the institute. A selection committee is set up and external members are appointed to the committees. The selection is based on academic proficiency of the candidate and performance in the selection process. We do not compromise on the quality of our faculty members,” Nath said.

Egalitarians refuted Nath’s claim and said lack of diversity among faculty positions was institutionalised injustice. “Elite institutions such as IITs do not take into account the financial and social capital of candidates when they consider merit, which is primarily focused on academic performance,” said a member of Egalitarians.

The group’s members said the data revealed in the RTI puts into context the alienation of dalit and adivasi students at the hands of faculty members such Seema Singh, who was suspended last week.

On April 24, video recordings of Singh, an associate professor of English from the department of Humanities and Social Sciences at IIT-Kharagpur, were posted anonymously on the confessions page of the institute, an informal group of students on social media. The recordings are those of preparatory classes, allegedly taught by Singh online and attended by over 100 students and parents, where she can be heard hurling abuses repeatedly.

Avatthi Ramaiah, chairperson, Centre for Study of Social Exclusion and Inclusive Policies at Mumbai’s Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS), said the discrimination was systemic. “If a reserved category candidate has applied, the law mandates that the selection committee should have a member from the category. Most times, it is this member that bats on behalf of the reserved category candidate alone. There is resistance from all quarters because the department members have a set idea of who they want,” said Ramaiah, who has served on several selection committees.

In March, HT had reported that IIT-Bombay has not recruited a single associate professor from ST and OBC categories since 2006. RTI data showed that of the 317 candidates hired as assistant professors over the past 12 years, 97% were from the general category, 1.9% were OBC, 0.9% SC and 0% ST. Between 2006 and 2020, 42 general category candidates were hired as associate professors and 97.7% of all associate professors were from the general category, while 2% were SC, ST while there was no one from OBC category.

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