New Delhi: Almost half the faculty positions at the premier Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs) will have to be reserved for candidates from the scheduled castes, scheduled tribes and other backward classes, officials at the human resource development (HRD) ministry said on Thursday.
The move is likely to spark another confrontation between the ministry and the elite business schools which have resisted this for eight years. Mint learns that it is also likely to be opposed by the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, the ideological parent of the Bharatiya Janata Party.
The officials, who asked not to be identified, said the IIMs will have to reserve faculty positions after a Tuesday meeting between the directors and chairpersons of the 19 schools and HRD minister Prakash Javadekar. The two sides ironed out most issues in a controversial IIM bill that the schools thought would crimp their autonomy, but couldn’t reach a consensus on the reservation, two of the officials told reporters on Thursday. “Nobody is above the Constitution,” said one, and added that the minister has told the IIMs as much. Reservation for the underprivileged is written into the Constitution.
The two officials explained that while some research institutions are exempt from setting aside jobs for teachers from underprivileged sections of society, the IIMs are not on that list.
In fact, the first official said, Javadekar hinted at this while answering a media query in Shillong, where the meeting took place, on Tuesday.
The HRD ministry said in its statement issued on Tuesday that while “replying to one of the queries of the reporters… the minister reiterated that as far as reservations are concerned, it is the Constitution which provides for it and the government has no plans to make changes”.
An IIM administrator who asked not to be identified said that the HRD “ministry expects us to implement the quota but till the time a fresh circular is issued to all the IIMs, it will be tough to implement anything”.
The officials did not say when and whether the HRD ministry would communicate its decision to the IIMs.
Aurobindo Saxena, vice-president and head of education practice at consulting firm Technopak, said: “Reservation in any form is not welcome. Quotas for faculty are a step towards politicizing higher education.”
Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw, the chairman of Biocon Ltd and current chairperson of IIM Bangalore, did not respond to a text message seeking comment. On 1 May, Hindustan Times reported her as saying: “You cannot be giving non-deserving candidates preference just because they are SC or ST”. She added that “we agree a combination of meritocracy and affirmative action is the solution and if all things are equal, we would certainly give preference to a candidate from SC or ST community”.
The Indian Institutes of Technology were asked to reserve faculty positions for people from underprivileged backgrounds in 2008. Although all the engineering schools protested the move, they eventually fell in line.