More diversity in faculty hires at newer IIMs

Older institutes have less than 10% faculty from reserved categories, shows RTI query

Although some of the newer Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs) have made some progress in hiring faculty from Scheduled Castes and Tribes, and Other Backward Classes over the last year, these communities make up less than 10% of faculty at the older, more prestigious IIMs, according to data obtained through RTI requests by a Ph.D graduate from IIM-Bengaluru.

Members of the Global Alumni Network, a group of about 300 alumni of the IITs and IIMs fighting for social justice in these elite institutions, welcomed the limited progress, but asked why the older IIMs are being allowed to break the law “with impunity”.

Also read: Over 60% OBC, SC positions vacant in IIMs

At the very top of the prestige list, IIM-Kolkata has no SC or ST faculty, but it does have two OBC faculty members, who make up less than 3% of its total strength of 77. IIM-Bengaluru has 6% of its 103 faculty from reserved categories: 3 SC, 1 ST and 2 OBC community members. IIM Ahmedabad said it “does not maintain category wise information for faculty” and failed to provide any information to the RTI filed by Siddharth Joshi.

Of the other first generation IIMs, Lucknow has less than 5% of faculty from reserved categories, while Kozhikode has less than 10%. Indore echoed IIM-A, and said no information was available. All data is for December 2020.

“The key is to implement reservations in the doctoral programmes, so that the pool of diverse candidates available for faculty hires increases. But most of these PhD graduates [from reserved categories] are now filling up positions at the newer IIMs, as the older IIMs are still resistant,” said Dr. Joshi.

Some of the second generation IIMs have done better. The Institute at Shillong has more than 30% of its faculty from reserved categories, while Raipur has 25% and Jammu more than 22%. At the other extreme is IIM Nagpur, which does not have a single faculty member from any of the reserved categories.

To understand the faculty recruitment process, Dr. Joshi’s RTI queries also asked for a break down of the number of candidates who applied from each category applied, were interviewed, offered jobs, and accepted employment at each IIM between January 2019 and December 2020.

The response showed that in some cases, hundreds of applicants were listed but none made it through the hiring process.

At IIM Lucknow, for example, there were 888 applicants for faculty positions over the two year period, including 197 from reserved categories. Only seven were shortlisted for interviews, and none were offered jobs. Of the 691 applicants from the general category, 59 were shortlisted and 12 were offered jobs.

“The IIMs cannot continue to use the excuse of unavailability of qualified candidates. They need to be intentional, and scout for applicants, as done in affirmative action programmes by the world’s top western universities,” said Anil Wagde, an alumnus of IIM Kolkata. “They also need to ensure that biases are not allowed to play out through the shortlisting and interview process.”

Since 2019, when Parliament passed the Central Educational Institutions (Reservation in Teachers’ Cadre) Act, the IIMs have been actively lobbying the Education Ministry to exempt them from the law’s requirements to reserve faculty positions for SCs, STs, OBCs and Economically Weaker Sections (EWS). They had earlier cited a 50-year old Central government memo which exempted scientific and technical posts from reservations.

In November that year, the Education Ministry told the Lok Sabha that the 20 IIMs had only 11 faculty from the SC/ST categories. On Monday, it told the Lok Sabha that the IIMs have filled 21 posts reserved for SCs and 5 reserved for STs, along with 36 reserved for OBCs, which is still far below the legally mandated quotas.

“There has been some incremental progress, but the IIMs are still not actually implementing the law. The problem is that most are not taking any intentional steps to change the situation, just paying lip service. The older IIMs are acting with impunity,” said Mr. Wagde.

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