RTIs Reveal IIMs Have Been Violating Reservation in PhD Admissions, Faculty Recruitment

A recent RTI filed by APPSC IIT Bombay has shown that the IIMs have been violating the mandated reservation norms in PhD admission and the Mission Mode Faculty recruitment. According to the reservation norms, 15% of the seats must be reserved for SC, 7.5% for ST and 27% for OBC candidates. However, the PhD admission data of nine IIMs revealed by the RTIs show that in the last five years, the proportion of students admitted under SC, ST and OBC category was just 5.4%, 1.8% and 16.7% respectively. Almost 70 SC, 42 ST, and 76 OBC students were denied their rightful seats and these were filled by students from general category.

A deeper look into the RTI data, which is now publicly available on the APPSC website, reveals a history of structural exclusion of Dalit Bahujan Adivasi (DBA) candidates in the IIMs. The RTI also contains PhD admission data of 15 IIMs from 2007-2022, which paints a much worst picture. Only 73 SC (1.3%), 22 ST (1.3%) and 183 OBC (10.8%) were admitted during the last 16 years. In all, 564 seats which should have gone to SC (182), ST (106) and OBC (277) candidates were denied to them and filled with general category students.

Table showing RTI Data collected by APPSC IIT Bombay showing the PhD admission data from 2007-2022 of 4 IIMs

The table shows that the most of the IIMs did not recruit a single SC/ST/OBC candidates in most of the academic years from 2007-2022. IIM Bangalore has not even admitted a single ST candidate for PhD in the last 16 years while IIM Tiruchirappalli and IIM Rohtak has not had an ST PhD student since their inception.

The typical response by IIMs when questioned about this lack of representation and their continuous violation of reservation is that this deficit in the number of SC/ST/OBC candidates is due lack of applications. But this has been continuously refuted by RTIs and data submitted by in the parliament by Ministry of Education that there has always been more than enough applicants and the exclusion is caused by the caste bias of faculties and the administration of IIMs.

Table showing the 2022 PhD admission data of 13 IIMs obtained by RTI filed by APPSC IIT Bombay

Applied Shortlisted Selected
SC 310 112 15
ST 96 49 7
OBC 628 269 54

The 2022 PhD application data shows that despite having more than enough applicants, the IIMs did not shortlist or select SC, ST and OBC students. The entire process of admissions and interviews are opaque and arbitrary by design that they have no accountability to follow the reservation norms. In IIM Amritsar, even though they only advertised four seats for general candidates in 2022, they ended up recruiting 17 candidates from general while taking only one SC and OBC candidate each, and not a single ST student, despite having applicants.

The primary reason for this horrendously low number of DBA students in the IIMs is mainly due to the lack of faculties coming from SC, ST, OBC categories. More than 60% of the posts reserved for OBC and SC faculty members at IIMs remain vacant, and that number is more than 80% for faculty posts reserved for ST faculty. In January 2020, 20 IIMs asked the Centre to exempt them from implementing reservation in faculty positions. The data shows that IIMs has never implemented reservation since their inception.

In 2021, the government ordered all IIMs to start mission mode recruitment (MMR) for filling the vacant seats of reserved faculties immediately. APPSC has been following the MMR and their data shows the despite clear orders from government, MMR is being undermined and very few candidates are being posted as faculty.

The RTI response by IIM Ahmedabad to the status of MMR was complete denial of having anything to do with the representation and reservation in faculty position. This is direct violation of the constitutional provision of reservations, the Central Educational Institutions (Reservation in Teachers’ Cadre) Act, 2019 and the Ministry of Education Order (D.O. No. 33-2/2021-TS-III (Pt.I)) which orders all IIT/IIM/NIT/IIIT to fill backlog vacancies of SC/ST/OBC faculty positions within a year. Their response highlights their open rejection of the constitutional provision of reservation and their impunity against all accountability.

Table shows the Mission Mode Recruitment data of 2 IIMs obtained by RTIs filed by APPSC IIT Bombay

Vacancies for MMR Applications Shortlisted Selected
IIM Nagpur
OBC 12 119 9 1
SC  7 104 3 1
ST 3 16 1 0
Total 22 239 13 2
IIM Amritsar
OBC 3 43 4 0
SC  5 15 4 2
ST 2 5 0 0
Total 10 63 8 2


Response by IIM Ahmedabad to the RTI filed by APPSC IIT Bombay about status of Mission Mode Recruitment for SC/ST/OBC faculty positions.

Data from 10 IIMs shows that they received 2,073 applications, out of which 254 were shortlisted but only 49 were finally recruited. IIM Kozhikode, Bangalore, Amritsar, Nagpur, Tiruchirappalli, Jammu, Udaipur, and Ranchi did not recruit a single ST faculty while IIM Ranchi, Tiruchirappalli, Amritsar and Bangalore did not recruit any SC faculty despite having enough applicants. Many IIMs did not advertise the number of vacant seats which are being opened for MMR. Looking at the six IIMs which did advertise their vacancies, we see that they received 1,113 applications for 86 positions, but they only recruited 32. The MMR data shows how IIMs are reluctant in recruiting SC/ST/OBC candidates in faculty positions.

Unless there is proper representation of DBA candidates in the faculty, these elite educational spaces which remain under the hegemony of the savarnas who will keep excluding students from marginalised communities. Public funded educational institutions should not be restricted to a few savarna communities and should be opened to the SC/ST/OBC communities. IIMs are continuing the casteist Brahminical practice of keeping education away from the DBA candidates.

These institutions must be held accountable for violating the statues of the constitution which provides right to access these educational opportunities by communities who were historically kept away from attaining education.

Pranav Jeevan P. is currently a PhD candidate in Artificial Intelligence at IIT Bombay. He has earlier studied Quantum Computing in IIT Madras and Robotics at IIT Kanpur.

Featured image: IIM Ahmedabad. Photo: Mahargh Shah/CC BY-SA 3.0/ Wikimedia Commons