New Delhi- In a recent development, the University Grants Commission (UGC) has sparked controversy with its latest move, which has been met with widespread condemnation. The UGC released draft guidelines proposing the de-reservation of vacancies originally earmarked for SC, ST, and OBC candidates in higher education institutes (HEIs). According to the guidelines, if an ample number of reserved candidates are not available, these vacancies could be opened up for the general category.
The draft, unveiled on December 27, outlines a general ban on de-reservation in direct recruitment, except in rare and exceptional cases. In instances where a Group A post cannot be left vacant in the public interest, the university is allowed to propose de-reservation. This proposal must include comprehensive details such as designation, pay scale, service name, responsibilities, required qualifications, efforts made to fill the post, and reasons for not allowing it to remain vacant.
While the executive council of the university can approve de-reservation for Group C and D posts, proposals for Group A and B posts must be submitted to the Ministry of Education for approval. Once approved, the post may be filled, and the quota can be carried forward.
The draft also addresses shortfalls and backlogs in reserved vacancy posts, urging universities to expedite the recruitment process by issuing a second call for applications. Additionally, it allows de-reservation in promotions if an adequate number of SC/ST candidates suitable for promotion against reserved vacancies are unavailable, with the authority to approve such cases delegated to the UGC/Ministry of Education.
However, this move has not been well-received, particularly by Dalit scholars, who have expressed their discontent widely on social media.
In a report in the New Indian Express, K Kathiravan, president of the Tamil Nadu Universities and Colleges SC/ST Teachers’ Association, raised concerns about the vague criteria for de-reservation, emphasizing that universities could claim unsuitability without mandatory input from the SC/STs/Backward Classes panel.
The #Casteist_UGC hashtag dominated social media throughout the day as representatives from marginalized communities voiced strong opposition to the UGC's draft guidelines. The trending hashtag became a platform for critical discussions and expressions of concern regarding the proposed de-reservation of vacancies meant for SC, ST, and OBC candidates in higher education institutes (HEIs).
Among those expressing dissatisfaction, the Tribal Army emphasized the significance of the fight in 2024. They asserted that this is the final battle with the BJP to secure the rights of SC, ST, and OBC communities, as well as to safeguard the principles of the Constitution and democracy.
Dr. Laxman Yadav, a former DU teacher, joined the chorus of criticism, highlighting the historical underrepresentation of OBC, SC, and ST professors in central universities. He pointed out that the UGC's plan to end reservations in universities is troubling, given the existing disparities. The controversy surrounding these draft guidelines continues to fuel discussions on the implications for diversity and equal representation in higher education.
Socio Political Activist Hansraj Meena wrote, " This order by UGC to fill the vacancies reserved for SC, ST, OBC candidates under general category in higher education institutions is an anti-constitutional step, which I oppose. Modi government should immediately withdraw this decision. Dismiss the casteist UGC immediately."