Published: 11th January 2021
OBC students demand 4000 more national fellowships, change in fee structure
As there are nearly 800 universities and 37, 204 colleges. Mere 1000 fellowships for OBC students will not be sufficient, the students argued
The All India OBC Students’ Association is demanding that the government consider OBCs to be treated on par with SC, ST students when it comes to deciding the fee structure in higher education institutes and exempting fees for poor students from the community. They are also demanding that the Central Government increase the National Fellowship for OBCs from the currently available 1000 slots to 5000 slots.
The AIOBCSA has for the last few days been meeting with various bodies such as the National Commission for Backward Classes, the Ministry of Education and the University Grants Commission. Among the series of demands that the Association has placed before the bodies, the Association included the demand for proper implementation of reservation in faculty appointments, the rejection of Prof Ramgopal Prasad’s committee recommendation on exemption of reservation in faculty appointments and implementation of reservation in Institutes of Eminence.
According to the Ministry of Education letter dated April 8, 2016, all SC, ST students shall get complete fee weaver in IITs and NITs. The fee exemption is only for the OBC students with income levels below 1 lakh and 2/3 fee waiver for students with an income level below 5 lakh, the Association statement explained. With regard to the change in fee structure, the Association argued that OBC students who avail reservations deserve a complete fee waiver in all Higher Education Institutes such as the Central Universities, the IITs, IIMs, NITs, IISER and IISc.
The students are also demanding an increase in the number of national fellowships for OBC students. “As there are nearly 800 universities and 37,204 colleges. Mere 1000 fellowships for OBC students will not be sufficient. The National Fellowship for OBCs should be increased from 1000 slots to 5000 slots,” the students said.
The Association has been protesting for a while over lack of OBC representation in faculty appointments. A recent RTI showed that there was a 97 per cent vacancy of professor posts in Central Universities. A 94 per cent vacancy in association professor posts and a 40 per cent vacancy in assistant professor posts across 40 Central Universities. The Association is demanding that the government organise a special drive to ensure the vacancies get filled.
The Ministry of Education appointed committee headed by Prof Ramgopal Prasad has been getting slammed for its recommendation that faculty appointments at IITs be exempted from reservations. The Association also added to the condemnation, “The committee was constituted for the effective implementation of the reservation policy in the IITs but instead of giving progressive recommendations for effective implementation of reservation policy and making the academic institutions more inclusive and diversified, the Committee has recommended exempting the caste-based reservations in the faculty recruitments. The recommendations are against the wider principles enshrined in the Indian Constitution.” The AIOBCSA is demanding experts from SC, ST, OBC and women to be included in the committee.
For a while now, institutes have been demanding that they be included in the ‘Institutes of Eminence’ list so that they can be exempted from reservations for faculty. The Association is asking that ‘Institutes of Eminence’ also implement reservations, “Each public institution, identified as IoE, will be funded with Rs.1000 cr for five years. Section 15 of the UGC (Institution of Eminence Deemed to be Universities) regulations, 2017 states that the Public Institutions of Eminence shall implement the reservation policy in admissions and recruitment in accordance with any Act of Parliament for the time being in force. Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), New Delhi has implemented the reservations in IoE recruitment, whereas University of Hyderabad has not implemented the reservations in IoE recruitments. The Ministry shall seriously consider any violation of reservation policy by any of the IoE institutions,” the Association urged.
The students have threatened to organise a nationwide protest and hold a Mahadharna in Delhi in the next parliament session, if their demands are not met.