Published: 01st July 2021
Discriminated against by people in power: IIT Madras Humanities prof quits over caste bias, sends scathing mail to faculty
In his email, the prof also asks the institute to set up a committee to study the experiences of SC and OBC faculty members and have members of the SC/ST commission and psychologists as part of it
In a strongly worded email addressed to the administration and all the faculty members, an Assistant Professor of IIT Madras said that he is quitting the institute owing to the caste discrimination that he had faced at the Humanities and Social Sciences Department. The email that was sent on Thursday said that the discrimination came from people in power "irrespective of their claimed political affiliation and gender."
The fact that the professor had quit the institute and had sent the email was confirmed by a professor who worked in the same department as well as numerous students attached to student bodies inside IIT Madras.
The mail goes on to talk about punitive action. "There were multiple instances of discrimination and I shall be pursuing appropriate action to address the matter. One of the curious observations I have observed at the institute is that the Bayesian Prior among many is that caste discrimination is a rare occurrence," reads the email. At the same time, he adds that his experiences and conversations with members of SC and OBC communities say that this is far from true.
In his email, the professor also asks the institute to set up a committee to study the experiences of SC and OBC faculty members and have members of the SC/ST commission and psychologists as part of it. "Furthermore, I do believe people who face discrimination may benefit by filing complaints with the grievance committees and with courts. Societies progress one small step at a time, or do they?" he says.
Of the 596 faculty members employed in IIT Madras in May 2021, 515 of them belong to the unreserved category and 62 are from the OBC category. The institute has 16 SC and 3 ST faculty members. This data was released by the institute while answering an RTI. At the same time, a committee formed by the Ministry of Education and headed by the IIT Delhi Director Dr V Ramgopal Rao in 2020, to ensure effective implementation of reservation in the IITs has recommended scrapping of faculty reservations in these insititutes. This had then created a lot of hue and cry. "Being established and recognised as institutions of national importance under an Act of Parliament, IITs ought to be listed under the CEI Act for exemption from reservations. This must be immediately reconsidered for inclusion of IITs in the schedule taking into account the nature of these institutions may be vested with their respective board of governors to deal with as per resolution, statutes and bylaws,” the committee said.
In November 2019, Fathima Latheef, a student of the same institute had died by suicide. In her suicide note, she had alleged that she was discriminated against on the grounds of religion. This had led to a lot of protests at the time.
Multiple calls made to the faculty member did not yield a response. An IIT Madras spokesperson told Edexlive that the institute does not wish to comment on the issue. "Any complaint received by the Institute from employees and students is attended to promptly through the established process of redressing grievances," they said in response.