//SC / ST scientists call for quota

SC / ST scientists call for quota

A BATTLE FOR SPACE: Documents available with CNN-IBN show an ST scientist was denied promotion

SC/ST scientists call for quota

Deepa Balakrishnan
Posted Thursday , June 08, 2006 at 07:33Updated Thursday , June 08, 2006 at 11:43

"SC/ ST people are like street dogs in our department"
—Vasudevan Amudavel, ISRO scientist

New Delhi: With medical students calling off their agitation, it seems the quota stir has taken a backseat.

However, there is controversy brewing in other quarters. The debate is no longer restricted to quota for Other Backward Classes (OBCs) in insitutes of higher learning.

Next, reservations for senior scientists in space and defence research organisations are likely to come up.

The Chairman of the National Scheduled Caste Commission, Suraj Bhan, feels that premier scientific research centres like Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) should be opened up for reservations for the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes.

"There is no reservation for scientists. We have now demanded that there should be total quota for all categories, without any exception," Bhan says.

Bhan claims his proposal will also prevent the harassment of SC/ST employees in premier organisations like ISRO that fall directly under the ambit of Prime Minister's Office.

Documents available with CNN-IBN Special Investigation Team suggest that more than 13 SC/ST candidates in ISRO have not been promoted despite getting good assessments.

This has invited the ire of senior SC/ST scientists of the space agency.

"I find discrimination everywhere. Be it recruitment policies or in promotion practices," ISRO scientist Vasudevan Amudavel says.

Vasudevan alleges that various forms of discrimination prevail at ISRO. "In department of space, there are no training facilities for us. We are not sent to launch programmes, we are not sent abroad, not given any opportunities. SC/ST people are like street dogs in our department," he says.

In an affidavit available with CNN-IBN, a senior scientist of ISRO admits not wanting to give promotion to an SC candidate.

The reservation agitation may have come to an end on the streets, but the fight for an equal 'space' at research organisations has just begun.

(With inputs from Neeti Tandon)