The Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) refers to several institutes of par excellence. There are almost 23 IITs in India. These institutions are of national importance. To crack IIT Joint Engineering Examination (JEE) is the dream of every bright student.
Those who are unable to crack the ITT JEE after 10+2 exam, have an urge to do a masters degree in some prestigious IIT institution after completing an engineering degree. Sabah Parvaze, daughter of a retired school headmaster from Srinagar’s old city, due to lack of information and exposure about IIT-JEE could not appear in this examination in 2010 after she passed her class XII exam.
Sabah who had secured around 92 % marks in class XII got selected for Agriculture Engineering Course (B-Tech) in Sher e Kashmir University of Agricultural Sciences (SKUAST) Srinagar. She completed her engineering degree in 2014 with a very good score - 9.0/10. In the same year she appeared for the Graduate Aptitude Test in Engineering (GATE) and got all India rank 10th .
The better score and rank in GATE helped Sabah to get admission in M-Tech course in Water Management Engineering at IIT Roorkee. She completed her master’s degree in 2016 and then passed the National Eligibility Test (NET) in Land and Water Management Engineering in 2017. The exam was conducted by the Agriculture Scientists Recruitment Board (ASRB). Sabah was selected as a Senior Research Fellow at SKUAST Srinagar soon after completing her M-Tech degree. This one year fellowship on agriculture forecasting was sponsored by the Ministry of Earth Sciences Govt of India.
WRDM IIT Rookree
The department of Water Resource Development and Management (WRDM) at IIT Roorkee is one of the prestigious water management institutions in India. The department was established in 1955 which offers application based Postgraduate Degree programmes in Water Resources Development and Management primarily for imparting training to in-service Engineers (Civil, Electrical and Mechanical) and Agricultural Scientists. Sponsorship from the organization is essential for obtaining admission to various programmes in the department.
The department is fully involved in research and development work in the areas of water resources, hydropower, major and irrigation management. The department provides consultancy services for irrigation, flood control, drainage, groundwater development and power sectors. In the past the same department has provided technical support to J&K Govt in conservation of Dal lake.
The main objective of the water resource development and management (WRDM)department at IIT Roorkee is to develop manpower that can take the responsibility of sustainable development and environment friendly management of the available water resources. This department has so far trained over 2600 top engineers and agricultural scientists from 50 countries including India. Unfortunately Sabah Parvaze who completed her M-Tech from this prestigious institution of IIT Roorkee was not found eligible by J&K Govt to give her professional services in higher education department as Assistant Professor in Water Management ? This all has happened due to red tape and babu culture in J&K which is a Union Territory (UT) from the last 2 years.
Asst Prof Water Management
In October 2017 the J&K Public Service Commission (PSC) on the recommendation of the Higher Education Department issued an advertisement notification 10-PSC(DR-P)of 2017 dated 27-10-2017 inviting applications for various posts of Assistant Professors which included 10 posts in Water Management. These Assistant Professors are supposed to be posted in various Govt degree colleges across J&K. The eligibility criteria was a good academic record with at least 55% marks (50 % for SC, STs, differently-abled) in Master’s Degree level in the relevant subject from an Indian University or an equivalent degree from an accredited foreign university.
The PSC through an official communication dated: 01-07-2019 No. PSC/DR/AP/Water Management /2019 issued a deficiency notice in favour of many candidates which included Sabah Parveze. The PSC put the ball in J&K Higher Education Departments court and sought their clarification. The notice reads “candidate has done M.Tech in Hydrology (Surface Water) and her candidature is subject to clarification from Higher Education Department regarding eligibility “
The Higher Education Department constituted an Equivalence Committee consisting of ten members to consider as to whether the qualifications acquired by various candidates are consistent with the eligibility criteria prescribed by Govt for various posts. This committee had to return a finding as to whether the degree of M. Tech Hydrology was equivalent to the Masters Degree in Water Management making her eligible for the post of Assistant Professor.
Out of 10 members, 06 officers belonged to the J&K administrative service (KAS officers) posted in various administrative departments. There were academicians from Kashmir and Jammu universities, but hardly any of these university teachers were from relevant fields like environmental science, earth science, hydrology, agriculture engineering etc. The academic background of the equivalence committee members (university side) was from Electronics, Childcare development, Biotechnology etc.
The equivalence committee without even properly going through this case, or hearing Sabah in person, came to the conclusion that the Master's degree in Hydrology (M-Tech) was not equivalent to the prescribed qualification of Masters in Water Management. The committee fixed the quantum of equivalence as 20% to M-Tech Hydrology and 85% to MSc Environmental Science. This is complete injustice with Sabah Parvaze. Water management isn’t a separate subject at all. MSc water management or M-Tech water management isn’t taught in any Indian university. This was even revealed by UGC after the aggrieved candidate Sabah Perveze sought information from them under RTI Act.
Info denied under RTI
In April this year Sabah filed an application under RTI Act 2005 in the office of JK Higher Education Department Civil Secretariat. Sabah wanted a syllabus of water management and other relevant material and the details of subject experts. Despite the lapse of the prescribed time limit of 30 days the department didn’t provide any information. It was rejected by misquoting Hon’ble Supreme Court’s order terming the requisite information as “hypothetical”. On May 21st this year Sabah filed an appeal before the Additional Secretary Hr Education Department who is also the First Appellate Authority (FAA) under RTI Act 2005. The officer while adjudicating the appeal asked the Director of Colleges J&K Govt to furnish the requisite information, however no information has been provided to the aggrieved IIT'ian .
By giving mere 20 % weightage to M-Tech in Hydrology & 85 % to Environmental Science the equivalence committee has done total injustice to Sabah Parvaze and her M-Tech degree from IIT Roorkee. Most of the aspects of water resource management like major and micro irrigation, watershed development, river engineering, hydropower projects, fluid mechanics, remote sensing for water resource systems, canal structural designs etc are taught during M-Tech Hydrology which is part of environmental engineering in Water Resource Development (WRD). On the contrary to this the MSc environmental science course is not all about water management or hydrology. During this course the students have to go through different aspects of the environment like air and water pollution, solid waste management, industrial and biomedical waste management , energy management, environmental biotechnology etc. The fact of the matter is that Sabah Parvaze’s M-Tech dissertation at IIT Roorkee was declared as the best in environmental engineering for session 2015-2016, but who cares for such bright people? This is the reason such talented minds leave Jammu & Kashmir and serve in some other nations…
Dr Raja Muzaffar Bhat is an Acumen Fellow. He is Founder & Chairman of Jammu & Kashmir RTI Movement