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ore than 8,000 vacant faculty positions at central higher education institutions, including central universities and Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs), must be filled by September 2022, the central government has said.

In a letter to varsities, IITs, Indian Institutes of Management and National Institutes of Technology, higher education secretary Amit Khare said institutions must strictly comply with the Centre’s decision. The higher education secretary will be monitoring the appointments every month to ensure the target is achieved within 12 months beginning September 2021.

“I’m writing in connection with faculty position that are lying vacant, especially for scheduled caste (SC), scheduled tribe (ST), other backward classes (OBC) and EWS category in central higher education institutions, functioning under the administrative control of the ministry of education. In order to clear the backlog, it has been decided that all central institutions should fill these vacancies in a mission mode within a period of one year starting 5 September 2021 to 4 September 2022," Khare said.

The ministry has also asked heads of central institutions to send a “monthly report to the higher education secretary starting September apprising the status of action taken".

Khare asked institutions to include “a separate chapter in their annual report starting 2021-22, depicting the status of filling up of backlog vacancies in a tabular format". Besides, institutes must have an agenda item for every meeting of the finance committee, board of governors and board of management, “giving status and filing the backlog vacancies". Mint has reviewed a copy of the letter.

Out of the 8,000 vacancies, 6,500 posts of professors were vacant in central universities. Of these, at least 60% were for reserved categories, including 1,684 for OBCs and 1,084 SCs.

“Filling up vacant seats at universities and institutions will be good for reserved category candidates, the community and higher educational institutes, which are facing a sizable shortage of faculty," said Shashank Ratnoo, an expert on OBC issues, and a lawyer.

On 23 August, members of All-India OBC Students Association, and a few experts met education minister Dharmendra Pradhan, and he assured to look after the welfare of the OBC community.

In July the government had said that it was planning to raise the annual income ceiling for the so-called creamy layer among OBCs from the existing 8 lakh, and expanding the benefits of reservations in jobs and education to more individuals. Currently, 27% of government jobs and seats in educational institutions are reserved for OBCs, but those with an annual family income of above 8 lakh are considered the ‘creamy layer’ and excluded from the benefits. The income is supposed to be raised every three years. During the last revision, in 2017, the threshold was raised from 6 lakh to 8 lakh. Demand for a caste census to finalize on the extent of reservation for OBCs beyond the 27% has been on the rise.

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