Published: 02nd July 2017
IIMC showing caste bias during interviews? Students share horror stories of caste, minority and JNU bias during interview at India's premier Communication Institute on Facebook
Three students speak up on social media about their horrifying interviews at IIMC where they were mocked and repeatedly asked about their caste and the "unfair and unnecessary" reservation system
Of all the educational institutions in the country, one would think that a journalism school would be the last one to be accused of being casteist. But recently some students have raised their voices against the government-run Indian Institute of Mass Communication (IIMC) for being casteist during admission interviews, leading to irate posts on social media.
'There are no OBC Muslims, never met one!'
In a Facebook post, Zaheer R (name changed), who is an OBC Muslim said that the minute he entered the interview room, he was questioned about his caste. The interviewer apparently asked Zaheer how it was possible for a Muslim to be an OBC and claimed he had never met an OBC Muslim.
Zaheer then responded saying that even though there was no caste system in Islam there were still backward caste Muslims, "I told the interviewer that there are Universities that have separate Quota for Muslim OBC. But he asked again how is it possible that a Central University had such a quota if Muslims OBCs does not even exist?" Zaheer then informed the panel that he had got his admission in Delhi University through the same quota but claimed that his interviewer continued to shake his head in disbelief. "They asked me if I had the certificate with me at that moment. I took it out and handed it to them, and asked them to check the authenticity of this online. They then asked me who had issued the certificate and I told them it was officially issued," he related.
His words: Screenshot of Zaheer's Facebook post
However, the interviewer remained unconvinced. He then allegedly proceeded to call the Superintendent District Magistrate to clarify his doubt. Meanwhile, the DU student said that another interviewer stepped in and suggested that the issue is left to the administration and to proceed with the questions. After answering the questions, they got to the final round where the student is expected to give a two-minute speech to a camera on a topic prepared beforehand.
Other Backward Class (OBC) is a collective term used by the Government of India to classify castes which are socially and educationally disadvantaged. It is one of the several official classifications of the population of India, along with Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (SCs and STs).According to report submitted to the Planning Commission, 39 percent OBC Muslims reside in India and legally have reservations, even though only half this population is reported to eventually receive these reservations
Twist questions catches student off guard
When Zaheer was asked about his topic, he said he would be talking about the Presidential Elections but the 'suspicious' interviewer demanded that he speak about Zakir Naik who was "radicalising Muslim youth". "I was taken aback because they had clearly mentioned that we had to come prepared with a speech of our own choice. So I requested for 2 minutes to prepare but he refused to give me anytime and asked to give the speech immediately."
A flustered Zaheer said he went almost blank in front of the camera.
His words: Screenshot of Zaheer's Facebook post
What's the deal with OBC?
Other Backward Class (OBC) is a collective term used by the Government of India to classify castes which are socially and educationally disadvantaged. It is one of the several official classifications of the population of India, along with Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (SCs and STs).According to report submitted to the Planning Commission, 39 percent OBC Muslims reside in India and legally have reservations, even though only half this population is reported to eventually receive these reservations.
'Reservation plan only for ten years, why do you need it?'
Commenting on the same post, another SC/ST student said that he had had a similar experience during his interview the previous year. Rakesh M, said he had applied to the College of Hindi Journalism but from the second he entered he was asked about the reservation system, "They kept asking me why I should get reservation, that the reservation plan was only for ten years, if Ram Vilas Paswan's daughter would get reservation and that there should a review of the reservation. But they didn't even let me answer any of these questions as they kept interrupting me," Rakesh said.
Expressing views: Screenshot of Rakesh's Facebook comment
Not a single question related to Journalism
Without even being allowed to answer, Rakesh said that he was told the interview was over in just four or five minutes even though other interviews lasted a minimum of ten minutes, "I was surprised and asked them why they hadn't asked me any questions about why I wanted to do journalism or anything else connected to the subject especially. But they said, "Are hum samajh gaye, jao" (We understand everything, please go), Rakesh explained. The student then claimed that he noticed that interviews of all SC/ST students were shorter than others and when he asked them about their interviews, they claimed they had been asked similar questions.
They kept asking me why I should get a reservation, that the reservation plan was only for ten years, if Ram Vilas Paswan's daughter would get the reservation and that there should a review of the reservation. But they didn't even let me answer any of these questions as they kept interrupting me
Rakesh said in his Facebook post that he had filed an RTI two months ago asking about the marks of students in the written exam and interview over the last ten years and also about teacher vacancies under the reservation categories.
The Azaadi issue: Bias towards JNU students?
In yet another blog post written by Rohan Soni, another interviewee, IIMC's interview board was accused again of supporting students whose views supported the present ruling government's schemes. "We were asked questions about Kashmir and the students who said that violence needed to be used to bring peace seemed to be more appreciated than those of us who were saying that it isn't the way. They also kept asking about what I think about JNU protests and even though I tried to be as diplomatic as possible because I knew the implications of the questions, still, they got irritated," he wrote.
When one of these students was contacted for an interview, he responded by saying 'But what's new? This happens all the time, everyone already knows about it". For some this is a daily routine, for some others, it is a surprise. These days, students take to social media to speak about casteist attitudes but they still hold little hope in things changing for their future.
IIMC officials could not be reached for comment.