The Achik Holistic Awakening Movement (AHAM) has urged Chief Minister Conrad Sangma to intervene into the UGC draft guidelines that suggest “de-reserving” vacancies in Higher Education Institutes reserved for SC, ST, and OBC candidates if suitable candidates are not available.
The organisation also urged the centre to take all the stakeholders into confidence by organising meetings and consultations before going ahead with the move.
AHAM said such steps pose several challenges and concerns, impacting the effectiveness of affirmative action policies.
According to the organisation, dereservation will undermine social justice by potentially reducing opportunities for historically marginalised communities. “If seats reserved for SC, ST, and OBC candidates are declared unreserved due to a lack of eligible candidates, it could perpetuate systemic issues rather than addressing them,” AHAM president George Prince Ch Momin said.
Momin said it is also a superficial solution that does not address the root causes of underrepresentation and might inadvertently contribute to the persistence of caste identities, as the marginalized communities may continue to face discrimination without adequate representation.
“Critics argue that dereservation may lead to tokenism, where a minimal number of candidates from reserved categories are accommodated without creating meaningful opportunities for the broader community. This could result in symbolic rather than substantive change,” he said.
While it will be susceptible to political manipulation the AHAM president said, dereservation may have implications for diversity within educational institutions.
AHAM further said dereservation of seats might lead to social unrest and protests, as communities that have historically been marginalised may feel that their rights and opportunities are being compromised and impact the overall social cohesion of the nation.
The ‘Guidelines for Implementation of the Reservation Policy of the Government of India in Higher Education Institutes,’ stipulate that a vacancy reserved for SC, ST and OBC candidates can be declared “unreserved” if enough candidates from these categories are not available.