Jun 28, 2008

Reservation - For Teaching at IIT

MUMBAI: Buoyed by its success in pushing through a quota for OBC students in higher education, the government has now ordered IITs to introduce - with "immediate effect" - quotas in the teaching faculty for scheduled castes, scheduled tribes and OBCs. IIT directors, not surprisingly, were livid with the decision, though none of the four TOI spoke to were willing to go on record. The high quality of IIT faculty has built the institution into a globally respected brand. Said an IIT-Delhi professor: "It is hard to imagine that even teachers will now use the caste flag to get in." The government diktat dated June 9, which has been sent to all the IITs, lays down 15% quota for SC, 7.5% for ST and 27% quota for OBCs in teaching positions. IITs currently have reservations for backward category candidates for administrative posts - from attendants to the level of deputy registrar. However, there is no reservation for faculty members in these premier technological institutes. The order signed by Seema Raj, director of technical education in the HRD ministry, read, "I am directed to say that the matter relating to reservation of SC, ST, OBC categories in recruitment to teaching (faculty) posts in the IITs was considered in the second meeting of the SCIC (Standing Committee of IIT Council) held on 11/2/2008. The recommendations made by the SCIC have been accepted by the chairman of (the) IIT Council. Accordingly, it has been decided to implement reservation for SC, ST, OBC, in recruitment to teaching (faculty) posts in IITs with immediate effect." For subjects in science and technology, posts will be reserved for lecturers and assistant professors. In areas like management, social sciences and humanities, reservations will be applicable up to the professor level. The ministry allows IITs to dereserve the posts after a year, if they do not get filled "despite all efforts". Insiders feel that merit, on which brand IIT rests, would be shaken by the decision of the government. The order specifies that in departments dealing with science and technology subjects, "reservation shall be applied to the extent possible at the school or broad branch of engineering, at least, if not at the individual department level." The IIT directors TOI contacted, who were yet to convey the order to their faculty members, said they are shocked by the decision. "Some of the finest people have given up top positions and fat cheques that were offered to them in other parts of the world to come and teach in the IITs, despite the low pay scale that the government offers. With reservation in faculty positions, I see a day, not far from now, when the IITs will crumble," said one director. Another director said that there had been no bias against hiring backward category candidates to teaching positions if they were found meritorious. "Till now, if a backward category candidate was found on par with another candidate, the former was given preference, but reservation will change the atmosphere on campus," said the director. All directors agreed that such reservations for faculty posts would mar the quality of education at the institutes. The lecturer’s post in the IITs is a contractual one and the basic salary is Rs 10,000 per month. Usually, fresh PhD candidates are taken in at this level. If their services are found satisfactory, they are promoted to assistant professor and get onto the permanent rolls of the IITs. But now, almost half the posts - 49.5% to be precise - will be reserved at both these levels.

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