After the Ministry of Education (MoE) directed the Indian Institute of Technology (IITs) to comply with the government norms of reservations in August 2021, most institutes have started advertising senior faculty positions with the mention of the reserved category quota.
Until now, the quota system was followed only at the junior-level faculty recruitment such as assistant professors. In September 2021, several IITs had also started ‘special’ recruitment drives to fill up the vacant positions under reserved categories.
However, IITs claim that the imposition of the quota may lead to more vacant positions. On condition of anonymity, the director of a third-generation IIT, said, “The positions have not been filled because of non-availability of candidates. We are not against the quota. There is a dearth of PhD candidates belonging to the reserved categories. Hence, the positions are not filled despite our best efforts,” he said.
The ministry had recently directed all institutes such as IITs, Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs), National Institutes of Technology (NITs), and central universities to fill the vacancies before Teachers’ Day 2022. To keep a check, the ministry had also sought a monthly report on the actions taken to fill the vacancies.
As per the central law, government institutes are required to implement a reservation of 27 per cent in teaching staff for Other Backward Class (OBC) candidates, 15 per cent for Scheduled Castes (SC) and 7.5 per cent for Scheduled Tribes (ST).
Earlier, the IITs could de-reserve the positions if reserved category candidates could not fill them up after a couple of advertisements. But now, the IIT boards do not have that liberty. In the current scenario, if the positions are not being taken, they will continue to remain vacant until a suitable candidate applies.
“IITs are institutes of national importance and must be exempted from the quota because the focus is completely on merit. IISc Bangalore follows the same system. The same provision can also be implemented in premier technical institutes. The mandatory quota is only going to increase the unfilled positions,” the director said.
In 2020, a report by a special eight-member committee had also recommended that the 23 IITs should be exempted from reservations under Central Education Institutions (CEI) Act, 2019. The committee was chaired by IIT Delhi Director V Ramgopal Rao and had IIT Kanpur director Abhay Karandikar, representatives of the departments of social justice and empowerment, tribal affairs, personnel and training, persons with disabilities and the registrars of IIT Bombay and IIT Madras as its other members.
Neither the government has decided to exempt the IITs from reservations, nor has the matter come up in the recent IIT Council meetings. “Some IITs are advertising the positions as per government norms along with the mention of reservations as a default process but we have not received any communication from the council regarding this. It is yet to have an official consensus,” said IIT Hyderabad director, BS Murty.
Pradeep Mathur, founding director of IIT Indore and retired IIT Bombay professor, believes that there is a widening gap between what is imposed on the institutes versus the academic effort required to promote quality education.
“The reason why reserved category positions remain vacant at IITs is that there is no compromise on merit. In college admissions, there are separate eligibility criteria for general and ST/SC/OBC categories. The same relaxation does not exist in faculty recruitment processes at IITs; hence there are no eligible applications. De-reserving provision helped the institutes to fill up the positions with meritorious candidates, but doing away with that is only going to add up to the pile of vacancies,” Mathur said.
Autonomy is a must for premier institutes to flourish, Mathur added. “IITs’ autonomy is debatable at the moment. The Anil Kakodkar Committee’s report should be implemented to help premier technical institutes improve so that they can compete with foreign universities,” he added.
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 per cent (149) were from SC and 0.34 per cent (21) from ST communities.
Mannar R Maurya, Professor and Dean (Faculty Affair), IIT Roorkee, told indianexpress.com that the institutes will soon come up with a roaster as more than 300 faculty positions under reserved categories are still vacant.
“To comply with the government norms, all IITs are now looking for candidates to fill up these positions. It will lead to healthy competition. We had also advertised two positions and the last date to apply for them was November 30. We do not have category-wise data of applications yet but we are tabulating the data,” Maurya said.