New Delhi: The government is making one last bid to persuade the Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs) to adopt reservations in faculty recruitment, before a central legislation granting them greater autonomy takes effect.
The Union human resource development (HRD) ministry has written to all IIMs suggesting recruitment of scheduled caste, schedule tribe and other backward classes’ candidates for faculty positions, at least two government officials said, requesting anonymity.
“Late July, the HRD ministry has written to all the IIMs to take affirmative action on this subject," said one of the two officials, adding the communication has despatched days before the Indian Institutes of Management Bill 2017 was presented in the Lok Sabha.
Reservations in IIM appointments has been a contentious issue for years. While the HRD ministry believes that IIMs should implement reservations, IIMs believe they are exempt from a mandatory compliance and they “have not received any clear direction to adopt reservation".
The second government official said this will probably be the last such communication and once the bill gets passed, it won’t be able to have much say in the matter.
The bill promising greater academic, administrative and financial autonomy to IIMs was passed by the Lok Sabha on 28 July and is expected to be passed by the Rajya Sabha soon.
“We have given several suggestions on how they can hire SC/ST/OBC faculty members," said the second official adding the ministry has asked for walk-in interviews, scouting for quality scholars of these segments from top colleges and universities and looking for established names from the industry who represent these segments.
This is not the first time the ministry has made such a suggestion. In January, HRD minister Prakash Javadekar had said he had spoken to IIMs on this. “As far as reservations goes, the law of the land applies. There is no change in that," Javadekar had said, Mint reported on 25 January.
An IIM administrator confirmed the ministry did write on the issue “very recently".
“Yes, there is a communication from the HRD ministry with some suggestions. To be honest, we are not against recruiting people from these sections, but we want qualified people and if we get them in plenty, we will not hesitate to hire," said the administrator, who also requested anonymity.
However, he added the suggestions are “not binding in nature" and added that had the ministry been adamant on reservation, they could have said so in clear words in the IIM Bill. If the reservation policy for IIMs is implemented, up to 50% of the teaching posts at IIMs will have to be filled by candidates from SC, ST and OBC categories.
The IIM Bill is unclear on the reservation policy on recruiting teachers. It vaguely mentions “enabling provision allowing reservation in employment".