The Department of Mathematics at the University of Delhi has come up with a shocking cut-off mark for PhD admissions in Mathematics. The department has issued a notice clearly mentioning that the minimum marks required to appear in the interview by an applicant belonging to the SC/ST community is zero. This “zero” has filled many of us with dread and hopelessness. The big question is why the department has come up with such a low cut-off.
Have students belonging to SC/ST community performed so poorly in the entrance examination that they are not even entitled to a reasonable and honorable cut-off?
I’ve used the phrase ‘honorable cut-off’ because this whole camouflage of zero cut-off has created a stigma of shame not just on the applicants of the concerned examination but to the whole class of students, belonging to the SC/ST community.
But what is the issue? As per the University Bulletin of Information (pp. 44) this year intake capacity for admission in Ph.D. in Mathematics is 27, and if my calculation is right, the intake capacity for SC category is approximately 4 students. Generally, it is the case that most of the institutions used to call around 3 times of the actual intake capacity of the candidates, which in this case would be equal to 12 candidates.
Furthermore, as per the UGC rules, candidates can directly appear in the interview, which means they can be exempted from entrance examination if they have cleared any of the following, CSIR-JRF, UGC-JRF, UGC-NET or in DU’s case Faculty Fellowship. In the case of the mathematics department of all the 223 fellowship holders, 21 SC candidates hold either UGC-JRF or CSIR-JRF and 5 SC candidates hold Faculty Fellowship.
Meanwhile, in the entrance examination, around 14 candidates belonging to SC category scored more than 54. If we combine candidates from the entrance and non-entrance mode, we have enough candidates belonging to SC category to be called for interview and as 14 students, which is more than three times of the actual intake capacity, scored more than 54 in the entrance examination.
So, there is no question of ‘zero’ cut-off, the department had the option to choose a pretty reasonable cut-off, and it is important to note that, there is nothing in this ‘zero’ cut-off that favors SC candidates. This shows that this ‘zero’ cut-off doesn’t reflect the merits or demerits of the SC candidates but it shows the prejudice of the department towards a particular group of students. This whole case of ‘zero’ cut-off is just for degrading the faith and hope of SC candidates and to generate anti-reservation sentiments among the masses.