New admission figures provided by the Ministry of Education show that the Centrally Funded Technical Institutions (CFTIs) deliberately bypass reservation norms. The data was provided by Minister of Education Ramesh Pokhriyal in answer to Rajya Sabha Unstarred Questions numbered 364, 365, 368, and 369, asked by Rajya Sabha members Elamaram Kareem and Bikash Ranjan Bhattacharya, answered on Thursday, February 4.
Following this, the Students’ Federation of India (SFI) said in a statement that the figures represent the blatant disregard for the Central Educational Institutions (Reservation in Admissions Act, 2006, in the CFTIs. The statement added, “The SFI also strongly condemns the lack of initiative from the part of the Ministry to address the issue of severe under-representation in technical education and research even after decades of the reservations being in existence. The situation is grave and deplorable, hence we demand an immediate redressal of the same.”
The data provided by the ministry showed that in the Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Other Backward Classes category had almost negligible presence, at 1% of total admissions during 2016-2019. Further, there were no admissions from Scheduled Caste and OBC categories in the integrated PhD program during two consecutive years.
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Similarly, the situation at most campuses of National Institute of Technology (NIT) is quite alarming. NITs Calicut, Patna, Nagpur and Kurukshetra have not admitted a single Schedule Tribe category student in the past three years. In some other NITs, there have been no admissions from the ST category across different years in this period.
The trend has been similar for the SC category also, at certain NITs. Of the total students admitted at NIT Calicut over the three years, only 5.1% belonged to SC category. And at Jaipur, only 5.2% came from the SC category. According to the data, the bigger NITs have admitted comparatively fewer students from SC category. Things seem to be at their worst at NIT Nagpur, which has not admitted any student from the SC, ST and OBC category during these three years. More than 70% of the admissions in NITs Surathkal, Srinagar, Kurukshetra and Uttarakhand belonged to the unreserved category.
Of the 17 campuses of Indian Institute of Information Technology (IIIT), five are centrally funded while the remaining function on a public-private-partnership (PPP) model. It was seen that at the centrally funded IIITs, SCs and STs were 11% and 1.9% respectively of the total admissions. The 12 other IIITs admitted a very low number of students from SC, ST and OBC categories – 6.5%, 1.5% and 15.6%, respectively, of the total 340 admissions. Many of them have not recruited any students from these categories. IIITs Gwalior, Kancheepuram and Kurnool did not admit any ST students during these years.
While the seven campuses of Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (IISER) have a better reservation compliance in their BS-MS program, certain violations were found. IISER Thiruvananthapuram fell behind in ST reservation compliance. IISER Pune and Tirupati had dropouts of more than 65% from the reserved categories.
SFI pointed out that the ministry’s response proves that there is no special programme under the government to train research aspirants for selection to PhD programmes at these elite institutions, despite the recommendation given by the Oversight Committee for the Implementation of 2006 Reservation Policy.
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The statement added, “Instead IISc offers a familiarisation programme for applicants selected for PhD interviews belonging to SC and ST categories. Further, the response received is ambiguous with respect to the training offered for GATE (Graduate Aptitude Test in Engineering) examination by the government for the students belonging to SC/ST/OBC. The response claims that MTech students belonging to these categories are given GATE training in the relevant disciplines, but MTech students would have already written and cleared GATE Examination.”
SFI has demanded that the Ministry of Education must immediately release a white paper on the social category-wise distribution of admissions at all programs offered at the UG, PG and PhD levels of every Central Educational Institutions, for the last five years, along with their gender-wise data.
It said, “This would help the society verify the compliance of CEI Act, 2006, across all the institutions. SFI demands an immediate intervention from the President of India on the issue. SFI also appeals to all other members in Parliament to take up this alarming issue in the ongoing parliament session and also join with the democratic sections in the fight for social justice.”