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
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
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
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
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.