New Delhi: Even as the government is pushing for affirmative action for the Scheduled Castes (SCs) and the Scheduled Tribes (STs) in the field of education, most of the posts reserved for teachers from these categories are lying vacant in 40 central universities across the country.
Figures from the Ministry of Human Resource Development (HRD) show that less than a third (29 percent) of the total sanctioned posts for SCs have been filled in 40 central universities. Of the total of 2,521 sanctioned SC posts, only 742 have been filled. For STs, out of 1,265 sanctioned posts, only 331 (26 percent) have been filled.
Take the case of Delhi University. It has 255 posts for SCs and 128 for STs, but appointments have been made for only 44 SC and 14 ST seats.
In Jawaharlal Nehru University, 109 posts have been sanctioned for SCs and 62 for STs. The university has, however, hired only 24 SC and 46 ST teachers for these posts.
In Jamia Millia Islamia, only 58 of the 124 sanctioned posts for SCs have been filled. For STs, the university has 62 sanctioned posts, of which only 17 have been filled.
The situation is worse in the Aligarh Muslim University. It has only one SC teacher, and not a single ST teacher - against the sanctioned number of 283 for SC and 142 for STs.
The Indira Gandhi National Open University has filled up only 28 of the 67 sanctioned posts for SCs and 13 of the 33 posts for STs.
The situation is however better in the central universities in Karnataka, Jammu and Kashmir, Kerala, Orissa, Punjab, Rajasthan and Tamil Nadu, with the institutions filling up more than 90 percent of the vacancies for SCs and STs.
The National Commission for Scheduled Castes says the issue has been taken up several times, but nothing has happened so far.
"We have taken up this issue, but so far nothing has happened," T. Theethan, Joint Secretary of the commission, told a news agency.
"The SCs and other such groups can be empowered only through education, but they are being discriminated against in this very field," he said.
Theethan added that a committee was being formed to fill up the vacant posts in the Banaras Hindu University (BHU).
"We have formed a committee. First we will look into the vacant posts in the BHU, and then we will look at other central as well as other universities," he said.
The HRD ministry however says sanctioning of new posts has added to the numbers.
"In view of the expansion in the 11th plan period and increase in the intake capacity of students, central universities have been sanctioned additional teaching posts," HRD Minister Kapil Sibal said in a written reply in the Lok Sabha.
A ministry official said it had written to the central universities to launch a special drive to fill the vacancies for SCs and STs.
"The HRD minister has written to the UGC (University Grants Commission) chairman to ensure filling up of the backlog vacancies," the official said.
The official said the UGC, while approving the budget for central universities for 2011-12, had directed the universities to fill up the vacant posts. This was followed by communications in January and March.
A Delhi University professor, not wanting to be named, told IANS that the posts were not getting filled because there were not enough qualified candidates.
"There are some basic qualification requirements, which we need to maintain for quality in the central universities," the professor said.
Asked if the seats could be converted to general, the HRD ministry official says "there have been such proposals, but there is a big question mark on the constitutionality of such a step. We have not taken any decision on it".