Downsizing the Dalit presence

Jay Raina
(New Delhi, June 7)

THE NDA Government's pro-Dalit pronouncements notwithstanding, the representation of Schedule Castes (SC) and Scheduled Tribes (ST) in Central ministries, departments and subordinate offices continues to be dismal.

Even within the Dalit community, the ST employees are worse off than their SC counterparts. Their presence has dipped further in recent years following the Centre's total freeze on fresh recruitment.

The Vajpyee Government's recent sale of several PSUs such as Modern Foods and dilution of stakes in other ventures like Maruti Udyog is reported to have hit the SC/ST workforce the hardest.

The new owners are understood to have refused to uphold the Centre's reservation policy in the new dispensation.

The presence of SC/ST workforce in otherm PSUs, banks, insurance companies and other governmental financial outfits though negligible, has further got downsized in the wake of the ongoing mantra of economic liberalisation.

The scenario in other major employment-generating outfits such as the Railways and Telecommunication is even more disturbing.

The presence of SC/STs in other crucial judicial outfits including the apex court is markedly low. Ditto in paramilitary and defence forces.

Based on the 1961 census,the existing 15 per cent and 7.5 per cent reservation ceiling for the SC and ST aspirants respectively in government recruitment has not been revised, even as their numbers have swelled along with a sharp rise in national population figures in the last 40 years.

Surprisingly, in the Department of Personnel (DoPT) itself that is mandated to implement the SC/ST reservation rules and several office memoranda (OMs),Dalit representation in the crucial Group (A) slots is around 11 per cent in the case of the SCs and a very meagre 2.2 per cent of Sts.

According to official figures, the SC/ST representation in various University faculties and other professional institutions such as IITs and Medical Colleges is marked by an alarming dip even as the numbers may be compared with their dismal presence in Central Government offices.

For instance, in Aligarh Muslim University, Jamia Milia Islamia of Delhi, Nagaland University, North-East Hill University (NEHU in Shillong) and Tezpur University, the ST/SC representation in teaching and non-teaching posts was nil as per 1998-2000 figures. It may be pertinent to note that all these institutions are funded by the UGC from the Centre's kitty.

A large number of `deemed universities' located in various states and Union Territories which are receiving 100 per cent maintenance grants from the UGC have not fared any better.

In net percentage terms, the numbers continue to be very low in other institutions of higher learning funded by the Centre and state governments across the country.

As you take a peep into senior slots at the levels of readers and professor, the numbers are marked by further depletion.

Even at the national capital's Delhi University, the SC/ST representation at the level of teaching and non-teaching staff is a poor 6.4 per cent.

At the level of lecturers, the percentage works out as 1.4 per cent, followed by a low of 1 per cent at the level of readers. Professors from non-SC/ST communities have wangled all positions for themselves, leaving their vulnerable counterparts with three posts in the case of SCs and one for the STs, out of a total strength of 332 such prime positions.

Significantly, the claims of anti-reservation proponents that the SC/STs were ill-equipped to compete on their own owning to lack of educational excellence have already been exposed by three SC/ST technocrats by qualifying on merit to three teaching slots at the prestigious Chennai IIT.

Notwithstanding the institution's refusal to implement the reservation policy at the time of talent hunt to fill its 450-member strong faculty.

The repeated pleadings of the National Commission of SC/ST Chairman Dileep Singh Bhuria notwithstanding, UGC authorities are reported to have washed their hands off this sordid state of affairs in the educational institutions funded by them.

While promising to chip in with some kind of instructions to the educational institutions for filling up reserved quotas at the level of lecturers, they have flatly expressed their inability to extend the reservation rules to higher slots at the levels of readers and professors.

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Referred by: Mukundan CM
Published on: June 9, 2001
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