RTI data: IITs not following reservation rules for faculty

Published on Jun 30, 2021 12:45 AM IST
None of the 22 Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) have more than six teachers belonging to the Scheduled Tribes (ST) community, while 18 of them have 10 or less candidates from the Scheduled Castes (SC) category on their faculty rolls
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ByPriyanka Sahoo

None of the 22 Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) have more than six teachers belonging to the Scheduled Tribes (ST) community, while 18 of them have 10 or less candidates from the Scheduled Castes (SC) category on their faculty rolls. Seven IITs had 10 or less faculty members from the other backward classes (OBC) community.

The data was revealed by 22 of the 23 IITs in response to a query filed by an alumnus of IIT-Bombay (IIT-B) early this year under the Right to Information (RTI) Act. Data for IIT-Mandi was unavailable.

None of the 22 IITs, including Delhi, Bombay, Madras and Kharagpur, follow reservations in their faculty positions. The Centre mandates a reservation of 27% in faculty positions for candidates from OBC category, 15% from SC and 7.5% from ST community.

At IIT-B, only six (0.9%) of the 684 faculty positions are from SC community, one (0.1%) is from ST and 10 (1.5) from OBC category. At IIT-Madras, of the 596 faculty members, 16 (2.7%) are SC candidates, three (0.5%) are ST, while 62 (10.4%) are OBC.

Pawan Goenka, retired managing director and chief executive officer of Mahindra Group and chairperson of the board of governors of IIT-Bombay and IIT-Madras, said, “The board of governors of IIT-B and IIT-Madras is well-aware of the gaps in diversity with respect to the reserved categories and gender. But we also know that it is not due to lack of efforts. These IITs are taking proactive steps to address these gaps while going through the recruitment process as per the prescribed norms. I am sure the other IITs are also doing the same.”

In July 2019, education minister Ramesh Pokhriyal, while answering a question in the Lok Sabha, revealed that the sanctioned strength of faculty in all the 23 IITs was 8,856, of which 2,813 positions were vacant. Of the 6,043 faculty in IITs, around 2.5% (149) were from SC and 0.34% (21) from ST communities.

Despite repeated attempts, Amit Khare, secretary, higher education, and Rakesh Ranjan, additional secretary for IITs at the Ministry of Education, did not respond to HT emails.

‘Good quality teachers a priority’

Goenka said IITs were sensitive to the reservation rules. “Currently IITs have a fairly large number of vacancies which they are trying to fill but sufficient high-quality candidates have not been available across all categories. IITs need candidates with PhD, high-quality research papers, and good teaching ability. These have to largely come from within the top engineering colleges in India or good universities abroad. The number of PhD students graduating from the IITs, specially the older ones, has been increasing significantly in the past four years as a result of the increase in intake post 2011. I believe this will help to address the issue in the coming years,” he added.

Data shows that seven IITs—Bhilai, Gandhinagar, Goa, Indore, Jodhpur, Palakkad and Patna—have no ST faculty on their rosters. In fact, except Dhanbad, Dharwad, Jammu and Tirupathi, the ST faculty at all other IITs constituted less than 1% of the total faculty count.

PB Sunil Kumar, director of IIT-Palakkad, said, “We give all relaxations as mandated by the Centre’s norms, and in addition, make sure that at the least, a few among the applicants from reserved communities are given a chance to present their case to the selection committees. We do face problems in finding the right candidates as the pool of applicants from such communities is small.”

“The current education system permeates discrimination in the name of merit. The idea of merit doesn’t take into account the social, emotional, academic, cultural and intellectual gap in students coming from diverse backgrounds,” said Govardhan Wankhede, former professor and dean, school of education, Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS), Mumbai.

Few senior faculties from reserved categories

IITs follow a flexible cadre system for the appointment of faculty. The sanctioned strength of faculty at different grades, such as professor, associate professor and assistant professor, is not fixed. Until 2019, reservations were only applicable for recruitment of assistant professors, which is the entry level.

This is why most faculty members from reserved categories were in the assistant professor category across all IITs. Fifteen of the 23 IITs, including IIT-Mandi, do not have a single SC or ST professor, while seven do not have even one SC or ST associate professor.

IITs also do not have promotions. Each position is filled as a fresh recruitment. This means assistant professors at an institute have to apply for recruitment as an associate professor and compete with other candidates.

Avatthi Ramaiah, chairperson, Centre for Study of Social Exclusion and Inclusive Policies at 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.

Corrective measures

At IIT-B, departments have to forward all applications from SC and ST candidates to the selection committee. S Sudarshan, deputy director, academic and infrastructure affairs at IIT-B, said, “Prior to the reservations, departments had the liberty to forward shortlisted candidates to the selection committee. However, a few years ago, after the reservation policy came in, the policy was changed. Now departments have to forward all applications from SC and ST category to the selection committee as long as they meet the basic eligibility criteria.”

IITs at Palakkad and Goa are conducting special drives to identify suitable candidates from diverse backgrounds. “We are only six years old and are still in the early stages of recruitment. However, we have already conducted one such drive last year,” said Kumar.

IIT-Goa director BK Mishra, too, said that the institute is currently conducting a special drive to improve the number of faculty members from SC, ST and OBC categories.

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