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Prayagraj social institute draws ire after it leaves OBC teacher seats vacant

Image of the Allahabad University in Pragyaraj for representation | Photo Credit: AP
Omar Rashid LUCKNOW: 09 December 2021 10:19 IST
Updated: 09 December 2021 10:19 IST

National Commission for Backward Classes issues a notice to the institute seeking details of recruitment.

The Govind Ballabh Pant Social Science Institute (GBPSSI), a constituent institute of the Allahabad University in Prayagraj, is facing a storm for allegedly leaving posts designated for the Other Backward Classes vacant under the ‘None Found Suitable’ (NFS) category in its latest recruitment drive for teachers.

After two law students from the Tata Institute of Social Science (TISS), Mumbai, and Delhi University (DU) complained to the National Commission for Backward Classes (NCBC) accusing the GBPSSI of alleged irregularities in appointment of assistant professor, associate professor and professor posts, which was preceded by much outrage on social media, the panel issued a notice to the institute seeking details of recruitment.

In their complaint, Mayank Yadav, LLM student, TISS, and Vivek Raj, Campus Law Centre, faculty of law in the DU, alleged that the entire process of selection and appointments was “malicious, blatantly irregular, full of bias against the OBCs, illegal and against the DoPT rule and constitutional mandate of reservation.”

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‘Unfortunate coincidence’

However, Director of GBPSSI professor Badri Narayan Tiwari, who was directly under fire of social media users over his ‘upper caste' identity after the recruitment list was widely circulated and discussed on these medium, denied the charges of casteism and bias, saying the list with NFS placed against OBC posts was an “unfortunate coincidence” but not malicious.

“It was not our intention or attempt,” Mr. Tiwari told The Hindu, stating that a “special drive in mission mode” was being initiated to advertise the “backlog positions of OBC” and that the institute would recruit people as per its “requirement”.

The NCBC on December 8 issued a notice to director of the GBPSSI.

R.R. Yadav, director (admin), NCBC, sought a reply in two days seeking details of roster of teaching and non-teaching staff of 1997, 2005, 2019 and 2021, recruitment done in last five years, selection committee report of last three years, list of NFS in the last 10 years in the recruitment of teaching and non-teaching posts at the GBPSSI.

The GBPSSI Board of Governors in its meeting on December 3 had approved the recommendations of the selection committee, which picked seven new faculty members.

For the assistant professor post, the institute approved selection of five persons: two candidates Aviral Pandey and Niharaika Tiwari (unreserved category), Manik Kumar (Economically Weaker Section), Ambuj Sharma (Person with Disability) and Kamei Samson (Scheduled Tribe). However, the category of OBC was left vacant with NFS marked under it.

Similarly, for the associate professor post, the institute selected Archana Singh under the unreserved category and Chandraiah Gopani under the Scheduled Caste category while the OBC section was again kept vacant with NFS.

The institute also listed NFS under the professor post.

‘Nothing but a joke’

“This is nothing but a joke that the institute could not find any suitable candidate from the OBCs,” said Mr. Yadav and Mr. Raj in their joint complaint, stressing that while the Government was issuing directions that posts in educational institutions be filled as soon as possible they were being kept vacant. “The NFS system is nothing but a tool to keep the OBCs seats vacant,” they said.

Mr. Yadav said that in the list of selected candidates for the interview, the cut-off mark for the unreserved category was 87 while there were four OBC candidates who had secured more than that. According to the DoPT, the four OBC candidates should be in the unreserved category list but their names were kept in the OBC list, he said.

Mr. Tiwari, a social historian and cultural anthropologist who has written books on Dalits, caste and Hindutva, most recent being the ‘Republic of Hindutva’ (2021), denied the charges of casteism and irregular appointment. He said he was sending a reply to the NCBC.

Mr. Tiwari stressed that sometimes it was difficult for the institute to immediately find candidates suited to its research requirement even though they may have the minimum qualifications and API score.

“We are a research institute. If we were a university or college our selection committee would take anyone. Their job is to only teach. Here, you need to have a person who has training in doing research. Because you have to do research projects, make proposals and bring proposals. We are funded by UGC but we are a research institute. So our requirement is entirely different,” he said.

Mr. Tiwari said sometimes the institute held multiple recruitment drives to get the right candidates.

He said that in a recent recruitment for class 3 and 4 level staff, the institute had recruited four OBCs including one under the unreserved category and two Dalits.

‘I always fought for Dalits’

“I have always fought for Dalits all my life. Why would I do this,” asked Mr. Tiwari.

With the seven new appointments, the GBPSSI now has 14 faculty members.

Established in 1980 as one in the network of Social Science Research Institutes, which the Indian Council of Social Science Research set up in association with the State Governments, the GBPSSI entered privileges of the Allahabad University in 2005.

The main areas of research at the GBPSSI include development planning and policy, environment, health and population, human development, rural development and management, culture, power and change, democracy and institutions.

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