Not a single PhD scholar from ST category selected in 11 depts of IIT-Bombay, RTI reveals

According to an RTI accessed by the Ambedkar Periyar Phule Study Circle (APPSC), a student organization, 11 out of 26 departments and centres of IIT Bombay did not admit a single PhD scholar form the Scheduled Tribes (ST) Category between 2015 and 2019.

According to the RTI, five departments admitted less than five OBC students in the last five years and one did not admit any student from the community. Out of the 8827 SC students who applied, only 216 were admitted in the last five years. Three departments admitted only one SC student and two did not admit any SC students. And out of 1522 ST students who applied, only 47 were admitted in the last five years. 

The government of India’s (GoI) norms require 10% of all seats to be reserved for students from economically weaker sections; 27% for OBC students; 15% for SC students; 7.5% for ST students; and 5% for differently-abled students. 

Talking to the Hindustan Times, Dean of academic programmes Amitava De said the institute followed all the reservation norms in letter and spirit; and only candidates who clear the cut-offs set by each department are admitted to PhD programmes.

“Over and above the eligibility criteria, candidates are required to qualify through a test and/or interview …The cut-offs for each birth category is fixed as per the GoI norms. To be eligible for the final admission offer, a candidate must score marks above the set cut-off mark.”

“Since IITs are being projected as Institutes of Eminence and they are entranced in the logic of ‘merit’, what this cut-off mark does is put a lot of power in the hands of the select committee. So even if a candidate is eligible to appear for the exam, the committee can reject a student by providing them a score less than the cut-off,” a student was quoted by Edex.

“In many of the IITs departments, there is no score given for the interview they just get told – ‘yes’ or ‘no’. Over the years since 1973, how many seats have been denied to SC/ST students? And how many reserved for OBCs have remained vacant since 2008? All IITs have to come forward and make the number public. That will be the first tiny step towards being accountable and changing things. Once that number is known, a mechanism can be devised to fill up the seats,” the student said.

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