IIT students seek implementation of quota in PhD admission, faculty recruitments

Updated on Mar 24, 2021 09:34 AM IST

The institutes have maintained that reservation policies were being followed in letter and spirit. However, student bodies have started a signature campaign to demand proper implementation of reservation policies

IIT Mumbai. (Satish Bate/HT Photo)
IIT Mumbai. (Satish Bate/HT Photo)
ByPriyanka Sahoo

Student organisations across various Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) have joined hands to demand proper implementation of reservations in the institutes.

The demand comes after data from the Ministry of Education revealed a lack of representation of Scheduled Caste (SC), Scheduled Tribe (ST) and Other Backward Classes (OBC) candidates in the PhD programmes and faculty positions in all 23 IITs.

“IITs are among the ‘elite’ higher education institutions in the country built with the common people’s money and undertake high quality research with huge funding from the public sector. The denial of the constitutional guarantees to the historically discriminated and marginalized groups in these institutes has significant socio-economic ramifications. Higher education and research are important means of achieving social mobility and overcoming social inequalities,” said a joint statement by Ambedkar Periyar Phule Study Circle (APPSC), IIT Bombay, Ambedkar Periyar Study Circle (APSC) and ChintaBAR, IIT Madras, IIT Delhi for Justice, Freedom and Democracy, Science Education Group, IIT Kharagpur, Students for Change, IIT BHU, and concerned students from IIT Guwahati, IIT Gandhinagar, and IIT Mandi.

Also Read | 81% seats reserved for ST students in PhD courses vacant in 16 IITs

In February, while responding to a question in Lok Sabha, education minister Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank revealed that 12 departments in IIT Kharagpur, 15 in IIT Delhi, and 16 in IIT Bombay did not admit a single SC student in 2020 into the PhD programme. In the same year, 19 departments in IIT Delhi and five in IIT Bombay didn’t admit any SC candidate to their PhD programmes.

In an RTI response received by APPSC, IIT Bombay revealed that between 2009 and 2020, not a single ST category candidate was hired for the position of assistant professor, the entry position for faculty members. Only three candidates from the SC and six from the OBC categories were hired as assistant professors during the period.

The institutes have maintained that reservation policies were being followed in letter and spirit. However, following the revelation, student bodies have started a signature campaign to demand proper implementation of reservation policies.

“In the light of the overwhelming evidence pointing towards the failure of IIT administrations to amend their admission processes to fulfil the reservation norms, we the undersigned demand that the Honourable President of India, who is also the Visitor of all IITs, and Supreme Court of India take suo motu cognisance of the violation of legally mandated reservation for SC, ST and OBC in IITs,” read the joint statement.

The groups have made six demands. They have sought the implementation of the reservation provisions in faculty recruitment and MS/PhD admissions in all departments of all IITs at the earliest; calculation of the missing SC/ST students since 1973 and missing OBC students since 2008 due to non-implementation of reservation with an action plan to fill those seats. They have also sought scholarship for all MS/PhD students admitted at IIT from marginalised communities. Apart from this, they have demanded that the institutes annually publish details of applications received, candidates who were selected and attended the interview, candidates offered admission, and candidates admitted in all programmes (particularly research programmes) along with cut-off marks obtained by the admitted candidates.

Other demands include setting up of a permanent SC, ST, and OBC Cell at all IITs with the mandate of ensuring the continued implementation of Central Educational Institutions (Reservation in Admission) Act, 2006 and dissemination of special support provided by IITs for students from marginalised sections.

“Adequate representation for marginalised social groups works towards democratising the field of scientific education and research. It is apt to mention here that even gender, minority and PwD representation continue to remain bad at IITs, which also deserve adequate attention,” said a member of APPSC, IIT Bombay, on the condition of anonymity.

S Sudarshan, deputy director, academic and infrastructure affairs, said that in case of faculty recruitments, departments are required to forward all applications from the SC and ST category to the selection committee as long as they meet the basic eligibility criteria.

When it comes to PhD seats, Sudarshan said that not enough research scholars from all categories were applying for PhD courses. “The vacancies are also dependent on the departments, some get a good number of applications but some don’t get enough. This is across all categories, including general category,” said Sudarshan.

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