Reservation Decimated In University Faculty Positions : UGC’s Roadmap to Vanish the Marginalised

Universty Grants Commission

In April this year three universities advertised for faculty positions. The Central University of Tamil Nadu offered 2 posts for OBC category out of 65 total faculty positions advertised. The Indira Gandhi National Tribal University offered 1 post under OBC category out of total 52 posts advertised. In both the cases no SC/ST reservation has been offered. And in Atal Bihari Vajpayee Hindi Vishwavidyalaya no reservation has been provided for SC/ST or OBC out of 18 posts advertised.

This comes as an aftermath of UGC’s 5th March, 2018 letter to all universities directing them to implement reservation based on total strength of individual departments rather than of the whole College/University. If the new formula continues to be implemented, in large universities like the BHU posts reserved for SC will be reduced by half, those for ST by almost 80 percent and for OBC teachers by 30 percent. The UGC cites Allahabad High Court verdict of April, 2017 as the reason for such direction. But what lies beneath is the pattern of UGC decisions and the promptness with which the UGC brings out a notice to scuttle reservation while even after a decade the huge backlog in fulfilling constitutionally mandated reservation of 15%, 7.5% and 27% for SC, ST and OBC respectively has not been implemented yet. It was in 2006 that the UGC under the chairpersonship of Prof. Sukhdeo Thorat brought out a notification for implementing reservation – “The practice of creating depart-wise cadres, which tends to create single posts or cadres with artificially reduced number of posts in order to avoid reservation, is strictly prohibited”. Even after years of struggles, the 2006 notification could not be implemented properly in Universities and thousands of backlogs in reservation posts still lie vacant. And now, under this new regime, the UGC promptly brings out a notification to revert its own decision of 2006 and asks universities to implement reservation based on total strength of individual departments. If this new notification of 5th March,2018 is to be implemented then there would be no post created for reservation in most of the appointments as total strength of individual departments would never create a post for reservation. This notification has not only scuttled constitutionally mandated reservation in new advertisements for faculty appointment, it also has jeopardized the process of recruitment in universities like the Delhi University where advertisement for permanent positions came out after several years. The re-recruitment of thousands of ad-hoc teachers of Delhi University who anyway face unsecured working condition are also jeopardized now.

The question that we need to ask is CAN THE UGC AND THE MHRD SHED-OFF THEIR RESPONSIBILITY IN BRINGING IN THIS FIASCO? The present government is known for using its legislative power to bring in anti-people ordinances bypassing discussions even in the parliament. Then why can’t it bring in a legislation to guarantee a roster system that will fulfill reservation superseding the department wise roster? We know that it is a question of political will. And the will of the present government in power is hidden from no one now. The pattern of decisions taken by MHRD and UGC is directed towards nothing but exclusion of the marginalized from higher education and jobs.

‘Autonomy’ or Disaster for Indian Universities?

On 20th March the MHRD unilaterally held a press conference declaring 60 educational institutions ‘Autonomous’. The 12th February UGC Gazette notification which is the basis of the MHRD declaration mentions that this autonomy to start new courses without the approval of the commission is meant only when no demand for funds is made from the government. The UGC since then has been actively trying to direct colleges to go ‘autonomous’ and start self-financing courses. The students and teachers have been protesting against the ‘Autonomy’ efforts by the UGC as it would mean exclusion of students who can not afford the massive fee-hike under self-financing courses. But the UGC or the MHRD are in no mood to listen to the real stake holders of the university and are undeterred in their desperate attempts of pushing ‘autonomy’.

UGC 5th May, 2016 Notification: Massive Seat-Cut and Decimation of Reservation in Research Courses

The UGC had earlier issued a notification dated 5th May, 2016 regarding Mphil/PhD admissions. In the name of maintaining student-teacher ratio, what the regulation effectively has resulted into is massive seat-cut and decimation of reservation in Mphil/PhD admission. It was the UGC’s and MHRD’s responsibility to fulfill faculty positions in universities which remained vacant for years. But the UGC, rather than speeding up its own process of recruitment made the students the victims of its own irresponsibility. Over enthusiastic loyal stooges of the BJP government like the JNU Vice-Chancellor Jagadish Kumar bypassed all decision making bodies of the university such as the Academic Council to forcibly implement seat-cut, scuttling of reservation and decimation of deprivation point.

In 2016-17 JNU offered 996 seats for admission in Mphil/PhD and in 2017-18, after the forcible implementation of UGC Notification the offer reduced to a mere 159 seats. The condition of reservation is further horrible. Out of this 159 seats offered only 31 seats were under reserved category completely violating the constitutional provision of 50% reservation for the deprived category. The main reason for the decimation of reservation in Mphil/PhD admission is the 50% eligibility criterion for written with no relaxation given for the reserved category of students. The JNU VC also misused his power to impose 100% weightage to viva-voce in the name of implementing the UGC notification causing further discrimination against deprived category students in the admission.

The UGC notification of 5th May that is being used to enforce seat-cut and scuttling of reservation is in complete violation of the Central Educational Institute Act of the Parliament of 2006 and 93rd constitutional amendment that makes it mandatory for universities to implement 27% reservation for OBCs along with 54% seat increase.

This present regime and the UGC under its dictation has gone against the law of the land to bring in seat cut and decimation of social justice. Then why is it taking shield behind a court verdict to hide its own intention of finishing off reservation in jobs in universities.

The Dilution of the SC/ST Act and Repression on Dalits During Bharat Bandh Is Another Glaring Example of the Casteist Politics of the Present Government

The Supreme Court this year gave a verdict to dilute the provisions of Scheduled Caste and Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities Act), 1989. This verdict came at a time when atrocities against Dalits are on an all-time high.

  • In 2016, Dalits were flogged in full public view in Una, Gujarat.
  • In 2017, a dalit village in Saharanpur were burnt down by feudal goons from upper caste just after the Yogi government took charge of the UP government on Maharana Pratap Jayanti. Exactly one year after this incident, a Dalit activist of the Bhim Army Sachin Walia was shot dead by upper caste goons in the same Saharanpur. Bhim Army chief Chandrashekhar Azad has been put behind bars and National Security Act charged against him because the Dalits of Saharanpur fought back against the burning down of Shabbirpur village.
  • On 1st January, 2018, Dalits who gathered to commemorate the Bhima Koregao war were violently attacked by saffron goons patronized by the Maharashtra BJP government. The masterminds of the Bhima Koregao anti-dalit attack Sambhaji Bhide and Milind Ekbote are well known acquaintances of the RSS-BJP. And it is a reality that when both these masterminds roam free in BJP ruled Maharashtra, a young Dalit girl who was witness to the Bhima Koregao violence on Dalits was found dead in a well this month.
  • According to news paper reports  every 15 minutes a crime is committed against a Dalit in India. According to the data from the National Crime Records Bureau, the rape of Dalit women has doubled in the last 10 years.

At such a time when the order to dilute the SC/ST Prevention of Atrocities Act came, the Dalit community came out in large number for the call of Bharat Bandh on 2nd April. The real character of the governance of Modi Raj that officially pretends helpless in front of court orders came out in their dealing with the protesters.

  • On the day of the Bharat Bandh, hundreds of Dalits were arrested, assaulted and charged with criminal cases. In BJP ruled states like MP, UP and Rajasthan Dalits were killed in gunfire for participating in Bharat Bandh. Not only were Dalits killed on the day of the Bharat Bandh, but marked and killed later by feudal goons in the aftermath of the Bharat Bandh in UP. In MP, those who fired at Dalits and killed them are known to be close to the local BJP MP.

The pattern is very clear. From killing Dalits to finishing off reservation in jobs and admission, the present regime is out with a very clear motive. And that is why they should not be allowed to hide behind court orders to shed-off their responsibility of implementing constitutionally mandated reservation in jobs and admissions.

The Modi Government in one hand hyperactively misuse its’ legislative power to impose anti-student, anti-social justice policies one after another. And on the other hand, the same government remains extremely apathetic and refuses to actively intervene in the wake of anti-reservation judicial pronouncements. The UGC after issuing the 5th March letter regarding department wise roster for faculty recruitments has come out with another circular dated 20th April, 2018 stating that the government and the UGC have filed petition in the Supreme Court in this regard. But this notification is only aimed at diverting the demand of students and teachers to implement reservation properly. The government has taken no steps yet to withdraw the 5th March letter and reinstate recruitment process with 200 point roster system which is the accepted way to fulfill reservation.

We must demand-

  1. Withdraw the 5th March, 2018 UGC letter directing universities to implement department wise roster.
  2. Reinstate processes of faculty recruitment with 200 point roster so that 15% SC, 7.5% ST and 27% OBC reservation is properly implemented.

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