Shortage of quality manpower, apathy among recruiting agencies to blame
A number of scientific and teaching positions in India’s premier institutes are lying vacant owing to a variety of reasons. This includes shortage of quality manpower, apathy among recruiting agencies and tweaking of recruitment rules.
In the case of Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs), the country’s premier technical educational institutions, one in three teaching positions is vacant. The situation will worsen with the government’s decision to introduce 10 per cent reservation for economically weaker sections among forward castes.
In a reply to a recent RTI application filed by activist from Madhya Pradesh, Chandrasekhar Gaud, the government said there are a little over 4,000 teachers against the sanctioned posts of 6,318 in the eight old IITs. The shortfall is more acute in newer IITs. There are currently 23 IITs in the country.
The condition is no different at Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) institutes. According to an office bearer of Agricultural Research Service Scientists’ Forum (ARSSF), which represents all scientists working under the ICAR, though the number of scientific positions vacant is low, the unfilled administrative and technical positions in these institutes range between 25 and 30 per cent.
The ICAR institutes in total have around 20,000 employees, of whom 5,000 are scientific staff.
According to a professor at IIT-Kanpur, there are around 430 faculty members at the institute against the sanctioned strength of 700. “The fault lies not with the Ministry (of Human Resource Development) but with us. We were sleeping on it,” said the professor. The recruitment was on high priority, however, after the institute got a new director in April last year, Abhay Karandikar.
More than 40 positions have been filled since then, he said. But the situation will get skewed further from the coming academic session as the government has decided to increase the intake of students by 25 per cent for providing the 10 per cent reservation for economically backward sections among upper castes.
As per the RTI reply, the worst affected is IIT Varanasi (Banaras Hindu University), where only 265 teaching positions have been filled against the approved 548 posts.
The representative of ICAR scientists said there would be more delay in filling scientist positions in ICAR labs, because the council is undertaking a cadre review. The cadre review has been on for nearly three years and the delay seems to be deliberate, the ARSSF representative said.
He said that in recent years, there was also an attempt at centralising the recruitment of most technical positions in ICAR labs.
As this did not work out well, the authorities are now reverting to the old practice of the respective institute hiring the technical support staff it needs, he said.
For instance, the India Meteorological Department will fill over 100 scientific positions, created mostly by superannuation, said a senior Ministry of Earth Science official, who pointed to the ministry’s recent advertisement inviting applications for 35 scientists.