UGC checks on equal opportunity cells

UGC checks on equal opportunity cells
Following widespread campus protests after UoH Dalit scholar Rohith Vemula’s suicide, UGC has begun inspecting the efficacy of equal opportunity cells it asked varsities to establish three years ago.

Writing to institutional heads Friday, the UGC has sought a detailed report in fifteen days on how equal opportunity cells in their campuses resolve discrimination concerning marginalised and disadvantaged students.

Though the UGC said it ”desires” to create a database of “activities pertaining to the redressal of grievances of marginalized and disadvantaged sections of society,” official sources confirmed to Deccan Herald that student protests fuelled by opposition parties over Rohit’s suicide has prompted the higher education regulator to act.

The UGC is acting within 15 days of the dalit scholar’s suicide since opposition parties including the Congress are turning the heat on the Narendra Modi government and are likely to ask the government on steps taken at the Budget session of Parliament.

“The immediate worry of the UGC is to answer the questions expected to be coming from parliamentarians on the issue of providing equal opportunity to students belonging to Dalit as well as other marginalised and disadvantaged sections,” official sources said.

“Once universities furnish the details, the Ministry can also prepare itself to face tough questions during the next Session,” sources added.

Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi visited UoH campus Friday night and took part in protests organised on Rohith’s birthday on Saturday. This is the Congress leader’s second visit to the UoH campus in a fortnight.

In 2012, the UGC asked varsities and colleges to set up equal opportunity cells, creating a scheme to offer a one-time financial grant for the purpose.

The scheme also offered to meet expenses regarding contingency, organising meetings and other activities concerning the cell.

Though over 750 institutions function under UGC, its annual report for 2014-15 suggested it ensured opening equal opportunity cells only in 116 universities and spent Rs 65.75 lakh.

Sources said there is no clarity on how many varsities have functional equal opportunity cells if all 750 institutions had complied with the UGC advisory and opened the cells.

“I am quite sure that your esteemed university has already in existence a functional equal opportunity cells for monitoring its activities,” UGC secretary Jaspal S Sandhu stated in his letter to institutional heads. 

“I would appreciate if you instruct the advisor of centre to send the data in a tabulated form pertaining to receipt of grievances and redressal thereof in the next 15 days of the issue of this letter,” he further stated.

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