The Lok Sabha has finally passed the Central Educational Institutions (Reservation in Teachers' Cadre) Bill 2019, which seeks to replace an ordinance issued in March to provide reservations to Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and Other Backward Castes (OBCs) and now Economically Weaker Sections (EWS) in faculty recruitment in universities and colleges.
On March 7, the Narendra Modi government approved the promulgation of the Central Educational Institutions (Reservation in Teachers' Cadre) Ordinance, 2019.
The Modi government has taken the right step to ensure just representation of all castes in academia. (Photo: PTI)
The ordinance restored the 200-point roster system to ensure reservations in the recruitment process.
The passing of the bill is a major decision which promises to put an end to decades of anarchy in the university system. For many years, the Left-dominated academia under successive Congress governments have been scuttling the implementation of the reservations, using 'technicalities'.
The advertisements would come out without specifying the allocation of the seats under various categories. And later, reserved seats were allocated to the departments where no applications from the reserved category applicants were received.
In other cases, the reserved seats were allocated in highly specialised fields, where it was difficult to find enough candidates even in the general category, or the reservation was made applicable to the number of vacancies advertised instead of the number of posts — ensuring that all the seats would be unreserved as the number of vacancies would be invariably too few to implement reservations.
And if all that failed, the NFS (not found suitable) provision was liberally used, which led to several court cases as well in the past.
It was after the Sabharwal judgement of 1995 that implementation of reservation was made more systematic. It mandated reservations on the basis of the total posts according to a specified roster.
What is the 200-point and 13-point roster?
The roster system deals with the allocation of seats under different categories in the recruitment process. Since OBCs have 27% reservation, they are allotted every 100/27 = 3.7 or the 4th seat in a count from 1 to 100. Similarly, SC are given 100/15=6.7 or the 7th seat and the ST category 100/7.5 = 13.3, that is, every 14th vacancy.
But the cycle was inexplicably kept at the 13th point — that is, seats would be allocated in the following manner: UR (unreserved), UR, UR, OBC, UR, UR, SC, OBC, UR, UR, UR, OBC, UR and the 14th seat would go to the ST before the cycle restarts. It can be seen that it was a fraudulent formula as 9/13 seats were given to the UR, even if there are indeed 13 seats to be filled.
The 200-point roster was proposed by the UGC committee in 2006. It also proposed that college/universities, instead of departments, should be considered as a unit for implementation of reservation by clubbing the posts of assistant professor, associate professor and professor across departments to prepare the roster.
The cycle would continue till 200 seats were filled mainly to ensure proper implementation of the 7.5% reservations for STs.
This formula was also a compromise arrived at after much deliberation and favoured the UR category because the sequence of the seat allocation in the roster didn't change. Therefore, in the initial years, the vacancies to be filled comprised mainly of the UR seats and there was no opposition as such. But as more and more seats were to be filled, the process would start favouring the reserved categorise as the percentage of the reserved seats in the overall appointments starts increasing after the 40th seat.
It is here that the game started so as to stop the recruitment process on the reserved seats and a case was filed in the Allahabad High Court to restore the old system of the department-wise reservation using the 13 point roster.
Since reservation is to be implemented institution-wise, it means that the departments in the beginning will mostly have the UR vacancies while the department which come later will be tilted in favour of the reserved vacancies. And due to the small size of most departments, it is possible that some department may have only UR seats and some, only reserved seats in advertisement. It is on this technical basis that the Allahabad HC ordered that the roster system be implemented department-wise, so as to 'ensure' that reserved category seats are evenly distributed.
The court reportedly overlooked that this would lead to a drastic fall in the reserved seats with most departments not having any reserved seats at all. This was amply demonstrated by the advertisements issued after the judgment. For example, the Indira Gandhi National Tribal University had just one reserved seat (OBC) out of the 53 seats advertised.
Of the 53 advertised seats, Indira Gandhi National Tribal University had just one reserved OBC seat. (Source: PTI)
Not a single seat for the Tribals. What is more interesting is that the colleges and universities which had lagged in recruitment for decades or simply stopped the process after the implementation of the OBC reservations in 2006 suddenly became hyperactive and kick-started the recruitment process since almost all the seats to be advertised now were UR seats.
This was the continuation of the time-tested trick.
Seats were filled under any existing system till vacancies were under the UR category and then, as the sequence of the reserved categories approached, the system was changed and restarted. This was done in 1997 on a massive scale. The 1995 Sabharwal judgment mandated the shift from vacancy-based reservations to post-based reservations — but also asked to continue the old process till the reserved seats are filled under the old system.
But the entire system was changed in 1997 — thousands of the unfilled reserved seats were converted into unreserved seats overnight.
A similar trick was being attempted this time too — and had almost been implemented if not for the timely intervention of the Modi government.
That the government went ahead with the ordinance despite attempts to paint a doomsday scenario of reactions to SC/ST Act ordinance repeating itself before the General Elections shows the commitment of the BJP government to ensure representation and social inclusion in academia.
The department-wise 13-point roster made SC/ST/OBC/EWS/PWD reservations practically meaningless. For far too long, academia has remained a liberal caste ghetto — with clear nepotism and family fiefdoms.
Now, if the Modi government succeeds in ensuring appointments in its second term under the institution-wise 200-point roster system, it would change the face of academia forever — and for the better.