Mulugu: The Central government has come under fire for the reservation policy it follows for tribals in universities supposedly established for their exclusive benefit. The very purpose for which the Tribal University proposed to be set up in Mulugu district would be defeated if the Centre restricts reservation for them to a mere 7.5 per cent, as was being done in the case of Indira Gandhi National Tribal University, Amarkantak, Madhya Pradesh, and Central Tribal University, Vizianagaram, Andhra Pradesh, experts and tribal community elders point out.
Former MP from Mahabubabad Azmeera Seetaram Naik, speaking to ‘Telangana Today,’ said: “It is ridiculous that the Union government, which boasts of setting up central tribal universities for the benefit of tribals in the country, provides only 7.5 per cent reservation for them. The Centre says it is focusing on preserving and enriching cultural heritage and tradition of the tribals besides striving for improving their socio-economic conditions, but they do not allow the required reservations to tribals.”
Demanding that the government ensure at least 80 per cent reservation for tribals and 20 per cent for others in the proposed tribal university at Mulugu, Naik, himself a tribal and a former professor, said: “There are 12 crore tribals in the country. They are deprived of quality education and other benefits from the government. Keeping this in view, it is justifiable to provide 80 per cent reservations to our tribal people. The tribal population in Telangana alone is about 40 lakh.”
Taking on the State BJP leadership’s (including State president Bandi Sanjay Kumar) repeated attempts to nail the State government over the inaction in allotment of land for the tribal university, he said the factual position was contrary to the claims of the saffron party. The blame for the inordinate delay in establishing the university lay at the doorsteps of the Centre and not the TRS government, he said.
The State government had not only allotted 335.04 acres for the purpose and furnished the details to the Centre but also proposed to allot Youth Training Centre (YTC) building at Jakaram which could serve as a stop-gap arrangement for the university to start till the proper structure comes up, Naik pointed out, adding that the State government had even allocated Rs 3 crore to take up repairs to the YTC building.
“The Secretary, Higher Education, Government of India (GoI), R Subrahmanyam also visited the site and inspected the building on December 31, 2018, and announced that they would start the university from the 2019-20 academic year,” the former professor said.
“The Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Act, 2014, mandates the establishment of a tribal university by the Central government for the States of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh. While the Centre had already established one in AP in 2019 itself, it is yet to do so in Telangana. It shows Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s step-motherly treatment to Telangana,” he added.
Dr Suresh Devath, a tribal and founder president of Society for Public Welfare and Initiative (SPWI), an NGO based in Mulugu, said: “If the Centre names a university after tribals, everyone believes that it is meant for the educational development and research of tribals. But in reality, it is different. The tribal universities are providing only 7.5 per cent reservations in admissions like any other university.”
Suresh Devath seconded Naik’s demand for 80 per cent reservation for tribals in the university “if the government is committed to the uplift of the most backward tribal communities.”
Another tribal academician Dr Devender Bhukya, echoing similar sentiments, also demanded that the Union government set the ball rolling to ensure that the tribal university commences operations from the 2021-22 academic year.
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