The criterion for appointment of professors in universities is being changed again, this time caste playing the factor. The news of the mandatory implementation of the 13-point roster has created a stir in the academic fraternity. This shift from the 200-point roster to the 13-point roster is expected to massively affect the representation of marginalized communities in the faculty appointment system.
This happened recently, when the SC upheld the 2017 Allahabad High Court ruling which had held that “reservations in teaching posts in Universities are to be applied by taking subject/discipline as the unit, instead of university.”
The government will file a review petition in the court, and in case it is not allowed by the court, it will introduce an ordinance.
“In 1952, when the roster was prepared for the first time, first positions would go to SC and ST, and then to the unreserved. Then, because there was a demand and more SC/ST/ OBC were coming into the university system, a 200-point roster came in for adequate representation,” says Sukumar Narayana who teaches Political Science in Delhi University.
The 13-point roster takes a department as one unit and implements separate reservation recruitment policy for a department as a unit. The earlier prevalent system of recruitment was the 200-point roster, where a university was taken as a unit.
“It all started when, in 2006, when UGC furnished guidelines calling for a 200-point roster to take a university as one unit. But, it was implemented only 6 to 7 years later when UGC said that it would cut their funds if DU doesn’t adhere to the roster,” says Abha Dev Habib, a professor of Physics also at Delhi University.
“The BHU case in the Allahabad High Court, which was decided in 2017, called for the 13-point roster. And the government, without defending its policy, sent a letter on May 5, 2018 to the universities asking them to make the roster department wise,” Dev Habib told Campus Watch.
Earlier, in the 200-point roster, 101 seats were unreserved and 99 were reserved. Since a university was taken as a unit, if there was a deficit of reserved seats within a department, it could be compensated by recruitment in some other department.
“If the University is taken as a ‘unit’ for every level of teaching and applying the roster, it could result into some departments/subjects having all reserved candidates and some having only unreserved candidates,” the Supreme Court court said.
In the 13-point roster system, the first, second, third, fifth, and sixth posts will be unreserved in a department, while the fourth will be reserved under the OBC category, the seventh will be reserved under the SC category, the 14th post will be reserved under the ST category, and the eighth and 12th under the OBC category, while the ninth, tenth and eleventh will be unreserved.
“Once this 13-point roster is accepted, if any person joins as a SC/ST or OBC, until they retire, the position will not be filled under the reserved category. So, that means, after 30 or 35 years, in the service of that candidate who joins in that centre or department, till the person retires, no one can get in. That will wipe out representation from these communities from these posts,” Narayana told Campus Watch.
This change in the reservation recruitment policy would massively impact the representation of the SC, ST and OBC faculty positions.
“This problem isn’t faced in case of student reservations, because students are admitted in large numbers; the same isn’t the case with faculty. For instance, take the Bengali department at Miranda House. The first position for an SC is the 7th recruitment, next is 15th- so, how will the seats be filled in such a small department? So, many cycles of retirement will be needed for the first SC post to be filled,” said Dev Habib, highlighting a major lacuna in the new roster.
The new roster is highly inconsistent with the goal of reservation and defeats it. In case of departments where there are only 4 positions available, no reserved seats will be created ever. And in departments with less than 14 faculty positions, there will be no faculty from the ST community.
The implementation of the 13-point roster would also mean that reservations would be split in terms of posts. This means that the number of reserved posts at the level of, say, assistant professor will be determined separately for each department; calculated based on the total assistant professor posts in each department.
“Take professors, for instance. There are fewer professors in a department compared to assistant professors. If a department has only one professor, there can be no reserved posts there as reservation cannot be applied in case of a single post. But if all posts of professors across different departments are clubbed together, then naturally there is a better chance of positions being set aside for SC, ST and OBC,” said Krishnan, who has worked for social justice for the marginalized communities for decades.
In a report submitted by BHU to the HRD Ministry last year, it says that if the university were to use the 13-point roster, posts reserved under the SC category would be reduced by half, those under the ST category by almost 80%, and those for OBC teachers by 30%.
“There’s heterogeneity in the classrooms: some are economically funded, some who belong to a reserved category. But, if you don’t give them reservations further on, it’s as good as telling them that they can leave after their undergraduate degrees. If there’s no affirmative action, you’d be propagating compartmentalization within the country. It’s so important to give representation to women and lower caste people: by not doing so, you are not only keeping them out of knowledge production, but, you are also preventing that section from having role models to inspire them to go ahead,” said Dev Habib.
The government recently announced 10% reservation in jobs and higher education for ‘economically backward’ sections. Right after that came the SC ruling about the 13 point system.
“When it came to OBC expansion in 2017, people having an income of 8 lakh and above were termed as creamy layer. While, people falling in the Economically Backward Category, who are mostly upper caste, hold an income of over 8 lakhs and land holding, in addition. Aren’t we failing at the terminologies we are using? It has become a joke. These are all gimmicks to sail through the election period. And, they’ll succeed.” said Dev Habib.
“But, see the irony of it. Reservation was introduced to address the denial of social justice to the communities. Now, the people who perpetuate caste violence and reservation, they are getting reservation. The 13-point roster and the EBC reservation have both been introduced within a month,” Narayana contributed.
If not a direct one, this will have an important impact on the students in the larger run, and will act as a hurdle in breaking the shackles of conditioning, Dev Habib thinks.
“If these students from SC and ST communities are not given the opportunity to become teachers, we will not be able to set an alternate discourse. The students who availed reservations earlier, when they now come and teach in classes, they will realize that the stereotypes they were fed are actually untrue; that is exactly when that conditioning breaks,” she says.
When you call the Darwin theory ‘wrong,’ when you make claims that Karna (in Mahabharata) and Ganesh are products of ‘genetic engineering,’ it only showcases the regressive attitude of the government. And that further reinforces the conditioning.
Hundreds of teachers have been protesting against the 13-point roster system across the country; JNUTA, DUTA, Jamia Teachers’ Union and recently, Maulana Azad National Urdu University (MANUU) Hyderabad joined the row. Students and teachers in MP, Haryana, UP, Bihar, Rajasthan, Maharashtra and Kerala are expressing solidarity. They have also been receiving support from politicians, students, researchers, activists as they demand for the 200-point reservation roster to be restored.
Recently, Rahul Gandhi came out in support of the protests against the 13-point roster saying it “has eroded the spirit of reservation guaranteed under the constitution.” He wrote to Javadekar asking him to pass an ordinance and “suspend all recruitments pending resolution of this matter.”
“We are trying to put pressure on MHRD and UGC. Yesterday’s march was from UGC to MHRD, but, they detained us near Janpath. Around 30-40 students who moved ahead towards MHRD were beaten up. It was a very unfortunate situation,” concludes Narayana, stating that they would continue their protests till they see concrete action from the government.