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New Delhi: Human resource development minister Kapil Sibal has questioned the rationale behind faculty quotas at premier higher education institutions like the IITs, IIMs and central universities, contending that teacher reservations are premature as a concept.


Indicating a sharp difference in view with his predecessor Arjun Singh, Sibal argued against the utility of faculty quotas at present in an interview to The Telegraph today.

“You can only have quotas for teachers if there are enough people of the community concerned coming up through the system to take up those posts,” the HRD minister said.

He said faculty quotas would assist deprived sections only after an adequate number of students from these sections benefit from education reservations.

Quotas for students from scheduled castes and scheduled tribes have been in place for several decades now, but OBC reservations were implemented first only last year.

Sibal’s views resonate with the demand from IIT directors for no reservations, but appear in stark contrast to those held by Arjun, HRD minister in the previous UPA government.

They are also divergent from standard government policy.

Sources close to Sibal, who took over as HRD minister just three weeks ago, suggested that autonomous higher education institutions, including central universities like Delhi University, and the IITs were already exempted from faculty quotas.

But so far, both central universities and the IITs have been covered by faculty reservations for SCs, STs and OBCs under orders from the department of personnel and training (DoPT).

The IITs for several years claimed they were exempted from the quotas, but The Telegraph on December 6, 2007, revealed that the institutes did not enjoy any such exemption.

Arjun then ordered the IITs to follow faculty reservations. The sources closed to Sibal today revealed that Arjun had himself subsequently stayed the order to follow teacher reservations.

Last year, the DoPT moved a bill that made government job reservations a law — so far, these have been implemented through executive orders. But the bill exempted the IITs, IIMs and select central universities from faculty quotas.

This bill was passed in the Rajya Sabha but then opposed by members of the ruling UPA, like Ram Vilas Paswan, and was never introduced in the Lok Sabha.

The IITs and several other higher education institutions have, however, repeatedly demanded exemption from faculty quotas.

At most central universities, several teaching posts reserved for SC/ST candidates lie vacant because of inadequate applicants of required standards.

Sibal’s argument — that not enough candidates from backward communities are coming up through the education system — is generally accepted as the most plausible reason for these faculty vacancies.

The HRD minister said primary and secondary education would be his priorities, indicating that he would act to reduce examination pressure on school students.

“We must make sure that children and their parents are not traumatised by the kind of school examination system we have. Education must be entertaining and attractive to children,” Sibal said.

The minister mentioned a “three-fold objective” in school education: expansion, inclusiveness and excellence. “We must reduce the school drop-out rate, improve the gross enrolment ratio, impart quality vocational education and skill development, achieve 100 per cent literacy, and especially ensure that girls are a 100 per cent literate.”

Asked about frequent clashes in recent years between the IIMs and the government over the fees charged by the premier B-schools, Sibal said he had not addressed the debate over autonomy yet.

The HRD minister indicated that he was likely to leave the IITs and IIMs alone but added a rider. “The IITs and IIMs are doing fairly well on their own. But autonomy does not mean a free licence,” Sibal said.




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