Over 40% of teaching posts in all 23 Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) are vacant, according to data provided by the Ministry of Education in the Lok Sabha to a question raised by Congress member Shashi Tharoor.
According to the data, while 6,511 teaching faculty are working in the IITs, 4,370 posts are vacant..
The data once again highlighted the poor representation of faculty from reserved categories. Only 12% of the 6,511 teaching staff are from Scheduled Castes (SC), Scheduled Tribes (ST), Other Backward Classes and Economically Weaker Sections (EWS). The Ministry did not provide category-wise break down of the faculty strength. However, an earlier reply submitted in December 2021 showed that there were only 32 faculty members from ST, 183 from SC, and 462 from OBC communities.
As per the reservation policies, the SCs, STs, OBCs, and the EWS should be provided a reservation of 7.5%, 15%, 27% and 10% respectively. This would mean that ideally at least 59.5% of the faculty must be from reserved categories.
Among the older and bigger IITs, IIT (Indian School of Mines) Dhanbad had 57.2% of posts vacant, followed by 53.4% in IIT Kharagpur. IIT Delhi was the exception with just 9.4% of the posts vacant. However, the institution had one of the lowest representation of faculty from reserved categories (6.5%). IIT Bombay had the poorest representation with just 3.8% of its 693 faculty members from reserved categories.
Mr. Tharoor’s questions were about the vacancies, student to faculty ratio and the measures being taken to fill the vacancies. The Ministry, in its reply, pointed to the ongoing special recruitment drive under “mission mode” from September 2021 to September 2022 to fill the vacancies under the reserved categories.
However, the special recruitment drive has already come under criticism as the problems posed by the flexible cadre structure in IITs have not been addressed. As per the flexible cadre structure, the sanctioned faculty strength is not fixed at each category, viz. Assistant Professors, Associate Professors and Professors but only at the overall level. Until recently, IITs were implementing reservation only at the level of Assistant Professor.
Rajesh Paswan, convener of the Delhi-based Joint Forum for Academic and Social Justice (JFASJ), an organisation fighting for the implementation of reservation policies in higher education institutions, said the present numbers on faculty from reserved categories itself were misleading. “Until the Central Educational Institutions (Reservation in Teachers' Cadre) Act came into force, IITs were hardly implementing reservation. Hence many of the faculty members must have been recruited under general category,” he said.