Research by the Asian Centre for Human Rights, released on 18 September 2013, provides renewed evidence of marginalisation of Scheduled Tribes (STs) or adivasis in government employment, and in fact suggests that such exclusion is growing in some areas despite policies of reservation. (The entire report can be accessed here).

Until May 2013, the number of backlog adivasi vacancies with the Central Government was 12,195 posts. Breaking up these figures is revealing. During 2010-11, at the level of the Secretary to the Central Government, the representation of the STs was a mere 2.68% - only 4 ST officers out of a total of 149 Secretary level officers. At the next rung of additional secretary, there were only 2 out of 108 officers i.e. 1.85% from the STs. There were only 15 out of 477 joint secretaries i.e. 3.14%. Finally, at the level of the directors, there were only 7 STs out of 590 i.e. 1.2%.

The problem is even more acute when one looks at states with high proportion of adivasis such as Chhattisgarh. For example, the report points out that as of 31 October 2011, across 18 districts of Chhattisgarh there were only two district collectors, one police superintendent and one district judge from the tribal communities while none of the 31 State government boards and bodies was headed by a tribal.

Ironically, universities emerge as the worst offenders in ACHR’s analysis. According to information provided by the University Grants Commission (UGC) under the Right to Information Act, the representation of the STs in the post of professors has come down from 3.88% in 2006-07  (46 STs against total of 1,187 professors) to 0.24% (4 STs against total sanctioned posts of 1,667 professors) in 2010-11; from 1.03% in 2006-2007 (18 STs against total of 1,744 Readers)  to 0.32% (10 STs against total sanctioned posts of 3,155 Readers) in 2010-11 in the post of Readers; and from 4.43% (129 STs against total of 2,914 Lecturers) in 2006-07 to 3.63% (193 STs against total posts of 5,317) in 2010-11 in the post of Lecturers.

According to ACHR, the exclusion in all of the above areas is deliberately engineered: “Even though the ST candidates fulfill qualifying criteria for selection for the various posts, they are often rejected with one line statement “no suitable candidate found”. This has become an alibi to de-reserve the reserve seats for general category.”

Further reading:

The Parliamentary Committee’s report of March 2013 on the poor representation of marginal sections in government

Government circulars issued over a decade to fill up backlogs in posts for marginalised sections

The government’s policy on reserving and dereserving

Planning Commission reports from the 11th Five Year Plan on empowering India’s Scheduled Tribes and analyses on empowering Scheduled Tribes

Image Courtesy: Photographer-Devesh Mukhopadhyay, Ministry of Tribal Affairs

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