New Delhi: Data presented in the Rajya Sabha has shown that between 2015 and 2019, the percentage of students from Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes out of the total number of enrolments into doctoral programmes at the Indian Institutes of Technology do not cross single digits.
In a detailed report on the numbers, The Hindu has shed light on glaring gaps in equity and equality in post-graduate education at the IITs. The numbers were submitted by the Ministry of Human Resource Development in response to a question by Kerala CPI(M) MPs, Elamaram Karim and K. Somaprasad.
“Of the 25,007 PhD scholars admitted in the 23 IITs over the five-year period, only 9.1% were from the SC communities and 2.1% from the STs,” the report says.
It notes that numbers are significantly lower than the 15% seats reserved for SC students and 7.5% for ST candidates.
The quota for students belonging to the Other Backward Classes is 27%, but only 23.2% of PhD students are from the OBCs. The Central Educational Institutions (Reservation in Admission) Act, 2006, says the report, could be attributed as the reason behind the comparatively better situation of the OBCs when it came to enrolment in PhD programmes.
The report also mentions that there was a 20% rise in doctoral programme enrolments at IITs during the same period, with virtually no proportional rise in students from SC, ST and OBC communities.
A closer look at the data led the report to conclude that the established and more prestigious IITs were the worst when it came to enrolments from marginalised communities. While as many as 60% of the PhD enrolments in the 23 IITs took place in the top five (Madras, Bombay, Delhi, Kanpur and Kharagpur), these IITs saw the “lowest enrolments from the scheduled communities.”
It further held:
“For instance, of the 1,653 scholars admitted in IIT Kanpur, only 11 (0.6 %) were from the ST communities.
“With the highest of 3,874 admissions, the IIT Madras contributed to more than one-fourth (26%) of admissions in all IITs.
“However, it also had the least representation from the SC communities (6.4 %) among the five. The IIT Madras was the only one among these five IITs to meet the minimum 27% reservation for the OBCs.”
In April, 2019, as many as 400 academics from 16 countries signed a statement of solidarity with IIT Kanpur associate professor Subrahmanyam Saderla for the “caste-discrimination and institutional harassment” he faced at the institute.
On March 14, IIT Kanpur said it may revoke Saderla’s PhD on ground of ‘plagiarism’. The university’s Senate had recommended the revocation even though the Academic Ethics Cell had found “no reason to revoke the thesis,” The Wire had noted in its report.
Saderla had alleged that four professors – who a retired judge found guilty of violating the university’s conduct rules and the SC/ST Prevention of Atrocities Act – and others spread rumours that he benefited from reservations and is not competent enough to answer questions.
Early last year too, the HRD ministry had revealed data that did no favours to any claims that reservations in the IITs has indeed made academics more inclusive there.
Less than 3% of those teaching at the IITs across the country are from reserved categories, said minister Prakash Javadekar. Of the 6,043 faculty members at the 23 IITs, 149 are from the SCs and 21 from STs, The Wire had reported then. This means that 2.8% of the faculty members come from the reserved categories.
“Reservation in appointment of faculty in IITs is available only at entry level post of Assistant Professors and Lecturers in Science and Technology subjects. For faculty posts in subjects other than science and technology e.g. Humanities, Social Science and Management as well as non-faculty posts, reservation at standard rate of 15%, 7½ % and 27% for Scheduled Castes (SCs), Scheduled Tribes (STs) and Other Backward Classes (OBCs) respectively is fully applicable,” Javadekar has said.