Four of the top five IITs haven't filled PhD seats reserved for SC, ST, OBC students since 2013. Here's why

The data was collated from the annual reports and enrollment data submitted by the institutes and was released by the SFI. However, is the reason one that is really valid in this day and age 
Image for representational purpose only
Image for representational purpose only

Four of the IITs in the country have not filled the requisite quota of SC, ST and OBC students in their PhD programmes since 2013, according to data compiled by the Students' Federation of India (SFI). The data released by SFI tells us about how there is a drastic shortfall in IIT Madras, IIT Delhi, IIT Kharagpur, IIT Kanpur, IIT Roorkee, IIT Bhubaneswar, IIT BHU, IIT Mandi and IIT ISM Dhanbad from the academic years 2013-14 to 2017-18. SFI activists submitted the data to the HRD Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank on December 12.

Why? Because students from these communities simply did not apply for them, according to IIT Directors. 

Each IIT is mandated to reserve 15 per cent of their PhD seats for SC candidates, 7.5 per cent for ST candidates and 27 per cent for OBC candidates. However, the data shows that many institutes have filled less than 1 per cent of its seats reserved for ST candidates. The situation isn't too different for the other two categories too. 

For instance, IIT Madras had no ST PhD candidate in the year 2013-14. In the following years, it had 0.4 per cent, 0.9 per cent, 1 per cent and 0.8 per cent of these seats filled. The situation is worse in the case of IIT Mandi, which had no ST candidates in any academic year from 2013-14 to 2017-18, except 2015-16, where it had 1.4 per cent seats filled. These are the percentage of seats filled in IIT Delhi — 0.6 per cent in 2013-14, 0.6 per cent in 2015-16 and 2016-17 and 0.9 per cent in 2017-18. No data was available for 2014-15. 

The situation is not very different about the seats reserved for SC candidates too. While IIT Mandi did not have any SC PhD candidate in 2013-14, over the next four academic years, the percentage varied from 2, 4, 9 and 6. In IIT Madras, only 7, 5, 6, 4 and 7 per cent of SC seats were filled in 2013-14, 2014-15, 2015-16, 2016-17 and 2017-18 respectively. The situation was slightly better only in IIT BHU which managed to fill all the seats in 2015-16 and 2016-17 and IIT ISM Dhanbad which filled all the SC seats in 2013-14, 2015-16 and 2017-18. 13 per cent of the seats were filled in 2014-15. IIT BHU filled 10 per cent seats in 2014-15 and 12 per cent seats in 2017-18.

IIT Kharagpur, IIT Kanpur, IIT Delhi and IIT Bhubaneswar did not have enough OBC candidates in any of the five academic years. IIT BHU and IIT ISM Dhanbad, on the other hand, filled all the OBC reserved seats in all academic years (for which the data was available).

Why are the quotas not being filled? 

Why are these seats vacant? When we wrote to the director of IIT Delhi and IIT ISM Chairman, they said that that the only reason was the unavailability of candidates. "It may happen that some SC/ST/OBC candidates do not join after seats are allocated to them. We strictly follow all the guidelines of GOI in preparing the seat matrix," says R K Das, IIT ISM JEE Chairman. Dissuading any other theories that people may have, IIT Delhi Director V Ramgopal Rao said, "Lack of applications is the only reason."
Hang on, students don't want to get into IITs?

However, Education activist Prince Gajendra Babu said that the IITs are at fault here. "These IITs have a constitutional obligation to ensure an adequate number of marginalised people get admitted into research seats. If there are less number of people, they should have written to the government stating the same. They should have explored the reason behind not getting enough students,"  says Babu, who is the General Secretary of State Platform for Common School System. "Maybe the IITs haven't advertised these positions properly. They have failed in their constitutional responsibility," he adds.

Given how coveted these posts are, one has to wonder if seats are going begging at a time when we have a legitimate teacher crisis, "There have been issues raised by the government about how there is a dearth of faculty to fill the reserved seats in Higher education institutions. Mostly IITs tend to recruit their alumni. But how do we have enough faculty if we do not have enough researchers?" asks an SFI member who worked towards collating the data. 

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