When the rank list for Tamil Nadu Veterinary and Animal Sciences University (TANUVAS) was published, U Chandran was over the moon. He was listed as the first rank holder among the students from the Scheduled Tribes community who had studied vocational stream (Agriculture) in class 12. However, his dreams were shattered soon after when he did not get the call for admissions in the university, despite being a topper in the ST category.
Chandran began enquiring over why he was denied an opportunity to study veterinary science.
It was then that he realised that of the 360 seats available for Bachelor of Veterinary Science (B V.Sc) course in Tamil Nadu, only 5% of the seats are allocated for students who pursued vocational stream in their class 11 and 12. This means that of the 360 students who will be selected for B V.Sc course, only 18 will be selected from the vocational stream. Of these 18 students, Tamil Nadu’s usual reservation quotas for students from Backward, Most Backward, Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes communities will apply.
According to the TANUVAS website, a few numbers of seats are reserved for different community groups and for special categories such as differently abled, sports persons, children of freedom fighter and children of ex-serviceman, based on the rules prescribed by the Government of Tamil Nadu. The per cent of seats reserved for different communities is 26.5% for Backward Class, 3.5% for Backward Class (Muslim), 20% for Most Backward Class, 15% for SC, 3% for SC Arunthathiyar and 1% for ST.
This means, that out of the 18 students from vocational streams who had applied for a B V.Sc seat in TANUVAS, only 0.18% goes to ST communities as per the reservation quota, which is why Chandran did not get the call for admissions in TANUVAS.
Govt should walk the talk
Former bureaucrat Christodas Gandhi tells TNM that the problem lies in the manner vocational stream students are treated. “On one side, the government claims to encourage students to pursue vocational subjects like agriculture, animal husbandry and forestry but on the other side, they curtail the opportunities available to them by allocating only 5% of seats for students who studied in those streams. How will this motivate students to choose vocational streams?” he questions. Christodas adds that the right way to walk the talk would be to treat both sets of students on par with each other. “They should allocate 50% of the seats to students who study regular academic streams and 50% to students who study vocational streams if they are serious about encouraging vocational subjects,” he says.
Another point that Christodas Gandhi makes is the structure of how the roster is set up. “The roster of reservation now is like this – Open category, backward communities, Most Backward communities, Scheduled castes and Scheduled Tribes. In this, the SC and ST comes at the last and hence are called last in any admission or employment opportunity. This should stop. Social justice can be ensured only when those oppressed communities are given the first chance to claim their way to betterment,” he explains.
In the hope of justice
Chandran has reportedly submitted a petition to the Erode District Collector last week, bringing the issue to his attention and requesting him to intervene. The State Human Rights Commission (SHRC) has also reportedly taken up the case suo motu and has issued notices to the Secretary of the Department of Animal Husbandry, Dairying and Fisheries development of Tamil Nadu and the Vice Chancellor of TANUVAS.
He is also hoping to approach the Madras High Court to provide him relief and secure him an opportunity to pursue his dreams.