It’s been ten years since OBC reservations for university faculty members went into effect, but representation in these circles still remains marginal. In fact, the University Grants Commission (UGC), in a reply to an RTI, has declared that there are no OBC faculty members at the professor and associate professor levels in any of the 40 central universities. Additionally, and that OBC reservations are implemented only at the entry level, that is, at assistant professor-level.
Out of 17,106 sanctioned posts at all three levels – professor, associate professor and assistant professor – only 1,897 are sanctioned for the OBC category, and only at the assistant professor level. That means only 5.8% of the total reserved posts are sanctioned for OBCs. The RTI also reveals that out of these sanctioned posts, 47.65% of these are still empty in central universities. Currently, OBC representation is even lower than that for SC/ST candidates, who also have reservations extended to all three levels: professor, associate professor and assistant professor level.
Reservations for OBCs are applicable at the assistant professor level in central universities and as lecturers in various technical institutions like IITs, NITs, IISER, and ISM. However, in the recruitment of faculty posts in subjects apart from science and technology i.e. humanities, social sciences, and management, 27% of reservations for OBCs is applicable for all professor posts including associate professor and professor in these institutions.
In non-teaching posts, only 11.96% are sanctioned for OBCs and out of all sanctioned OBC posts (4,117), about 47.04% are vacant. Although the UGC is regularly sending reminders to the vice-chancellors of various central universities, but university administrations seem indifferent to filling OBC seats.
In a report by the Lok Sabha committee on welfare of other backward classes, ‘Measures undertaken to secure representation of OBCs and for their welfare in universities and other higher educational/technical institutions’ many institutions were questioned about their lack of OBC staff and replied that “no suitable candidates were found”. The report also documented various issues related to OBC reservations in educational institutions and suggested corrective policy measures.
The OBC reservation falls flat if it is not implemented properly and completely, and the government of India needs to focus on remedying this. These reservations in higher education provide an opportunity for OBC youth to pursue higher education – there has been an increase in OBC PhD holders since the implementation of reservations in 2007, and the surge for teaching positions must come soon as well.
Gowd Kiran Kumar is a PhD student in the Department of Political Science, University of Hyderabad.