The 20 Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs), seeking exemption from implementing reservation quota in faculty positions, have urged the Union Government to include the IIMs in the list of ‘Institutions of Excellence’ which are exempt from this provision.
The Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) had written to the IIMs in November 2019 asking them to implement the provisions of the Central Educational Institutions (Reservation in Teachers’ Cadre) Act, 2019.
The Act directs each centrally funded institution to club together vacant posts in all departments and to implement reservation in recruitment for Scheduled Castes (15%), Scheduled Tribes (7.5%), Other Backward Classes (27%) and the economically weak among the upper castes (10%).
IIMs Seek Institutes of Excellence Status to Exempt Themselves from Reservation in Faculty Posts
Institutes Exempt from the Reservation Act
The Government has granted an exemption under Section 4 of the Act to some institutions of excellence, research, national and strategic importance, and minority institutions from implementing reservation.
These are the Homi Bhabha National Institute, Mumbai and its 10 constituent units, Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, Mumbai, North-Eastern Indira Gandhi Regional Institute of Health and Medical Science, Shillong, National Brain Research Centre, Gurgaon, Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research, Bangalore, Physical Research Laboratory, Ahmedabad, Space Physics Laboratory, Thiruvananthapuram and the Indian Institute of Remote Sensing, Dehradun.
IIMs Plea Focuses on Exemption Granted to Institutions of Excellence
The IIMs say that they follow fair recruitment practices and grant employment to eligible candidates from disadvantaged sections using the same process. Implementing the reservation quota could put hurdles in the way since they are competing globally. At present, More than 90% of the current faculty strength across 20 IIMs is from the General category, according to HRD ministry data.
Another point of contention is the erosion in the autonomy granted to the IIMs under the Indian Institute of Management Act 2017. Under the Act, the IIMs were declared as institutions of national importance and empowered to grant degrees instead of diplomas for full-time programs.
Arguments Against Reservation in Faculty Posts at IIMs
The Financial Express, in an opinion piece dated November 23, 2019, with the headline “Forcing Faculty Quota Would Kill the IIMs” wondered about the government’s true intent on reforming higher education. Even while talking about significant autonomy for the institutes, it was looking o curtail IIMs autonomy with steps like imposing fee caps.
The Higher Education Commission of India proposed to replace “the rotten UGC and AICTE”, is yet to be set up. By directing the IIMs to reserve teaching posts, the Government was countermanding its own 1975 order granting exemption scientific and technical posts from the reservation.
The newspaper also noted that the IIMs would be forced to set aside 59.5% of faculty positions to fill the reservation quota. The new Act also provides for reservation in the recruitment of faculty on the basis of clubbing vacant posts of the same ranks across all departments in an institution.
The Act also restores the 200-point roster system in the reservation of faculty posts. Under this, the university or institute is chosen as a unit for deciding on the reservation, which means that the total pool of posts that must be reserved significantly goes up. Along with government and court orders that put limits on de-reservation of posts, it is likely that teacher-strength could also be affected if the IIMs are unable to find eligible reserved category candidates to fill up reserved posts, the paper said.
It also expressed fears that reservation would bring in its wake a dilution in recruitment criteria including academic achievements affecting the quality of teachers.
Arguments for Reservation Quota in IIM Faculty
Meanwhile, former alumni and other beneficiaries of the quota system have urged the government to reject the IIMs plea.
Anil Wagde, a member of the Global IIM Alumni Network, which has been fighting for reservation said these institutes started with government funding have been taken over by casteist people. While the world over diversity is respected and followed, in India just five percent of the population occupy such positions.
The IIMs also have little to show in terms of merit as none of them has won the Nobel Prize or figured in the QS top-ranking schools. “With the so-called meritocracy, what do the IIMs have to show for themselves, have they won the Nobel Prize, are they in the QS top ranking?” he added.
Suraj Yengde, the author of the book Caste Matters, accused the IIMs of trying to enforce a Manu-inspired policy of exclusion. “The IIMs say reservation is a bottleneck in achieving excellence. Had there been no reservation, I would not have come out of the slum to pursue Masters and PhD in the world’s best institutions and certainly not be a fellow and postdoc at Harvard University and then teach in the US,” he added.
Will the Government Grant IIMs Exemption from Faculty Quota?
Unlikely, says The Telegraph newspaper quoting a government official. With the government caught up in protests over the Citizenship (Amendment) Act and preparing for the countrywide National Population Register (NPR), it would not want any such exemption to make the marginalized sections unhappy.
Meanwhile, the IITs have been implementing the reservation quota at the assistant professor level in technology subjects and at all three levels in management and humanities courses since 2008.
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