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Of Reservations

The death of Senthil Kumar, a dalit student of the University of Hyderabad, and the article on his life by N Sukumar (EPW, 15 November 2008) are a brutal reminder of the dehumanising social reality prevailing on our campuses, despite all the talk of social empowerment and advances achieved by India since 1947. However, it will be naive to assume “the reservation quota is filled by the university because it is constitutionally mandatory”. The powerful, entrenched elite in the system will always find reasons to not fill the reservation quota. The only problem is that many times they cannot manage it. Educational institutions are no exceptions.

Delhi University’s (DU) educational bureaucracy too is violating reservation norms with impunity. For instance, in the Department of Political Science of the University, qualified scheduled caste (SC) and other backward classes (OBC) candidates for PhD admissions were available but were denied the same in September 2008. It may be noted that there was one seat each reserved for SC and OBC candidates respectively for admission to PhD. The seats have remained vacant. Interestingly, the students who were denied admissions are the products of the same Department of the University. And at least the department should uphold that it does not award substandard degrees. The students have the required eligibility qualifications (with a high second class at MA level, and awarded MPhil degrees). Moreover, the victimised OBC candidate (a woman, Vibha Maurya) has qualified through NET twice at a time when NETqualified candidates are not so easily available. She is eligible to teach at undergraduate and postgraduate levels as per the University Grants Commission guidelines.

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