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Delhi University VC draws flak for finding OBC prof candidate unsuitable

Priyata Brajabasi | Updated on: 12 July 2017, 20:05 IST
(Saumya Khandelwal/Hindustan Times/Getty Images)

The selection process to appoint faculty members for a permanent vacancy has come under scrutiny at Delhi University.

In what is being viewed as an arbitrary decision, the Vice-Chancellor has reportedly rejected the name of an OBC candidate for a post reserved for OBC category candidates.

This has once again raised the question of just how transparent the selection process of professors within the Delhi University fraternity is.

The process

Selecting a professor for a permanent position is a two-fold process. First, the candidate is picked by the selection committee. It is then up to the 22 members of the Executive Council (EC) to determine whether he or she is the best person for the job.

UGC regulations and university statute insist on absolute transparency in the selection process of faculty members. The statute gives the EC the power to reject the recommendation of the selection committee with reasons, for which full facts have to be disclosed to the EC.

The case

The recent furore has been caused by the Selection Committee's efforts to fill four vacancies for permanent Assistant Professor positions in the Department of Financial Studies. Of the four, two positions were granted to general category candidates, one to a candidate form the SC category.

The last was to be filled by an OBC candidate. It was this candidate that the EC, chaired by the Vice-Chancellor Yogesh K Tyagi, who was 'not found suitable' (NFS).

However, according to Professor Rajesh Jha, a member of the EC, the V-C and the selection committee did not involve the members in the decision making process.

Now, the Delhi University Teachers’ Association (DUTA) and several members of the Executive Council have demanded a re-examination of the decision.

“The recommendations of the selection commission come to the EC for approval. But the NFS decision in the OBC category was not brought to the floor of the EC at all. We asked for the individual score cards of candidates, minimum and maximum required marks set for approval in this category, but none of it was revealed to the members. How can the decision be called the EC’s decision when the EC members weren’t involved? There was zero transparency.” Rajesh Jha told Catch.

How can the decision be called the EC’s decision when EC members weren’t involved: Prof Jha

Jha revealed to Catch that while the composition of the selection committee is prescribed by an ordinance as per university rules but in actual practice it is the V-C who appoints the selection committee.

The members of the EC have written a note of concern to the chairperson as well as the selection commission stating that relevant information was not revealed to the members and the decision cannot be carried out in the name of the EC.

DUTA president Nandita Narain told Catch, “How exactly has "suitable" been defined by the selection committee? Was there a minimum mark fixed? Was the same minimum mark, if any, fixed for candidates from SC/ST categories? What marks were awarded to the candidates in the 50:30:20 breakup adopted by the EC on the basis of UGC Regulation? Why were these details were not made known to the Executive Council? This is a violation of UGC regulations.”

Costs and motivations

However, the reason behind this decision is something no one is sure about.

Prof Jha said, “We do not understand the motivation behind the decision. But what this decision reveals that the administration is not sensitive to the cause of social justice. We have to give what is due to the backward castes. This is a violation of the reservation policy.”

Narain said, “Even if the V-C found the candidates unsuitable, which in reality is not the case, why not be transparent about the process? Some candidates who applied for the permanent position have been teaching in the colleges of Delhi University for some time. If they are suitable to teach in colleges, then why not in the departments? What is the logic in that?”

“The DUTA Executive has unanimously demanded that the EC re-examine the matter, and take a decision to select the candidate with highest number of marks awarded by the selection committee under the 50:30:20 rule. Failure to correct this decision will send an unfortunate message to the teaching community that the University is neither serious about making permanent appointments nor about implementation of the Reservation Policy,” she said.

Since 2010, this is the first time permanent vacancies are being filled in a DU department. Now, since the vacancy for OBC candidates in the Department of Financial Studies has not been filled, the entire process of advertisements, applications, interviews and evaluation will have to take place all over again.

“It is a very time consuming process,” Jha said.

First published: 12 July 2017, 20:05 IST
Priyata Brajabasi @PriyataB

Priyata thinks in words and delivers in pictures. The marriage of the two, she believes, is of utmost importance. Priyata joined the Catch team after working at Barcroft Media as a picture desk editor. Prior to that she was on the Output Desk of NDTV 24X7. At work Priyata is all about the news. Outside of it, she can't stay far enough. She immerses herself in stories through films, books and television shows. Oh, and she can eat. Like really.