Published: 02nd July 2021
Students, politicians call out casteism in IIT Madras, after prof quits and sends stinker
In a letter addressed to all faculty members of the institute, he said that there were multiple instances of discrimination and that he shall be pursuing appropriate action to address the matter
An Assistant Professor of IIT Madras had quit the institute, allegedly owing to the caste discrimination that he had faced at the Humanities and Social Sciences Department. In a scathing letter addressed to all faculty members of the institute, he said that there were multiple instances of discrimination and that he shall be pursuing appropriate action to address the matter.
The issue has created a lot of hue and cry, with people across spectrums seeking appropriate action. S Venkatesan, the Madurai MP has asked the National Commission for Backward Castes to conduct an immediate inquiry. "The resignation letter of the Assistant Professor from IIT Madras owing to caste-based discrimination is shocking. Why is IIT shrouded in secrecy? [sic]" he tweeted.
ChintaBAR, a student-run group in the institute has also condemned this. "IITs have been in the news recently for caste discrimination against students and for the persistent violation of reservation norms in PhD admissions and Faculty recruitment. ChintaBAR has been demanding the setting up of functioning SC, ST and OBC cells in the institute and for expanding the scope of the grievance redressal mechanism established at the department level to address issues of discrimination, harassment etc," they said in a statement. They also asked the students, faculty and administration to come together to ideate on the reforms required to make academic spaces more inclusive.
Even though students say that they are unsure of the incidents that led to the faculty member's resignations, they confirmed to EdexLive that cases of caste discrimination are prevalent in the institute. Ambedkar Periyar Study Circle, an anti-caste group in the institute had, in 2019 put up a post alleging exclusion and discrimination on campus. This was after Fathima Latheef, a student had died by suicide after being allegedly discriminated against and harassed by family members.
"Several students, faculties and staff assert their so-called upper caste status through various symbols. Several offices in the administration block and other departmental offices blatantly display religious symbols. All this in the backdrop of the current political atmosphere in India, makes IIT spaces far from secular," they then said. "Over 2400 students have dropped out of all IITs in the last two years, with over 120 from IIT Madras. The IITM system is blind to the mental agony of a student who has to take this decision. To decide to quit a course that s/he joined with so much hope and to return home as a 12th pass. More often than not, the student also fails to see this as a systemic problem and considers this a personal failure," they added. However, they are yet to comment on the recent incident.
At the same time, the IIT has denied a comment on the issue. Answering a query, the spokesperson told EdexLive that "Any complaint received by the Institute from employees and students is attended to promptly through the established process of redressing grievances."