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Gujarat Central University "deprives" SC, ST, OBC students fair admission, prefers interviews for Phil-PhD intake

By Kalyani Pradhan
Serious issues of unequal opportunities and deprivation done to students from disadvantaged sections from scheduled castes (SC), scheduled tribes (ST) and other backward classes (OBC) and rural India in the admission process of the Central University of Gujarat (CUG), Gandhinagar, have come to light.
The CUG Prospectus for 2016-17 stated that merit list for admission into M Phil-PhD shall be based on entrance test (i.e written test) and interview. However, contrary to this declared criterion, the final merit list for admission into the admission was prepared based on interview scores alone and the result was announced by the CUG on July 23, 2016. This change in criterion has been done keeping the students, parents and the society in dark and unaware.
This is a great injustice to students from deprived sections, as numerous students from SC, ST and OBC or those coming from rural India are relatively better at written examination and hence are likely to do well in the written test for CUG, while many of them may have performed poorly in the interview due to their limitation of English language or articulation.
Such meritorious but deprived students must have been adversely affected in the admission process due to this changed the criterion of merit list preparation purely based on interview.
The written test comprising of multiple type questions involves objective evaluation, whereas interview is a highly subjective evaluation. Removing objective evaluation (i.e. objective type written test score) from preparing merit list for admission into M Phil-PhD, while entirely relying on subjective evaluation, implies students from SC, ST, OBC and those from rural India are compel to face greater risk of arbitrariness and biasness.
It is unheard of an admission process anywhere in the world that involves 100 marks for written test and another 100 marks for interview, and finally ignoring the written test score to prepare the merit list for admission, purely based on interview score.
Further, the minimum cut off in written score was set at 40 for general and OBC candidates for inviting them into interview, which is contrary to the judgement of the Supreme Court. The University Grants Commission (UGC) also treats SC, ST and OBCs equally as far as relaxation from cut-off marks are concerned, while prescribing eligibility for the UGC-NET examination or for teaching position.
This is because SC, ST and OBC come from similar social and deprived background. Therefore, not inviting OBC students securing marks 35-39 in the written test for interview has deprived an unknown number of Indian students from the opportunity of attending the interview and getting equal chance to compete for admission.
Being a national institution, the CUG has received 797 applications for its M Phil-PhD programmes during 2016-17 covering students for almost all Indian states. Its admission process must be fair and transparent and should provide equal opportunity to students from every sections of the society. However, the policy adopted by the university has been grossly against the deprived students and those from rural India as the policy ignore the component in which these students are stronger.
Representation has been made to the Liaison Officer on Matters Related to OBC, Central University of Gujarat. Also similar representations were sent to the President, the Prime Minster, the HRD Minister, the Chairperson of National Commission for Backward Classes, and the Joint Secretary, SC/ST/OBC Division, University Grants Commission.
Also, a writ petition has been filed in the Gujarat High Court in relation to admission process of the CUG. The High Court has granted an interim stay on the admission process of the university.

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