IIT Bombay: Six tables to be reserved for vegetarians only in hostel mess? Students allege "food discrimination"

The students allegedly received an email, on Wednesday, from the mess council informing them that six tables will be reserved for vegetarian food only
Read details here | (Photo: Edex Live)
Read details here | (Photo: Edex Live)

A few months after the posters with the message "vegetarians only are allowed to sit here" created an outrage in teh Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Bombay’s hostels, the issue of food segregation and discrimination has erupted yet again.

On Wednesday, September 27, students residing in IIT Bombay hostels received an email allegedly from the mess council informing them that six tables will be reserved for vegetarian food only to make the dining experience comfortable for everyone. A screenshot of the email was shared on social media by the Ambedkar Periyar Phule Study Circle (APPSC), a student group at IIT Bombay.

“The mess is for all and everyone's comfortable dining is our responsibility. There is no doubt that there are some people who can't resist the view and smell of nonveg food during their dining, this may create health issues as well. Hence, this is necessary to designate 6 tables where only veg food will be taken by anyone. Our primary goal is to ensure that every resident enjoys a comfortable and pleasant dining experience,” the email received by the students around 1 pm today, Wednesday, September 27, read.

The email also informed that these designated tables will be marked clearly with signage stating, "This place is designated for vegetarian food ONLY." 

It further urged the students to comply with the rules or a penalty would be imposed against them.

‘Casteist’ policy

Students from APPSC emphasised that segregation of public space available for all students on the basis of food practices has casteist roots and is an ‘unconstitutional policy’.

“The problem is this whole attitude that non-vegetarians and vegetarians need to be segregated comes from an idea that non-veg food is contaminated. We understand it is totally normal to feel uncomfortable and any student who feels that way can ask their fellow students to move another table and I am sure everyone has a basic civic sense to understand that. But turning it into segregation is something very problematic. We believe it is a casteist practice,” an APPSC member, on the condition of anonymity, told EdexLive.

The students added that demarcating a public space based on your preference, which comes from the policies of “purity and pollution”, is highly problematic.

This is not the first time that IIT Bombay has been accused of alleged ‘food-based casteism’. In July this year, a similar uproar took place when posters saying “Vegetarians only are allowed to sit here” were put up in certain areas of the campus.

When asked about this, the institute responded by saying that the posters are ‘completely unofficial’.

We have reached out to IIT Bombay for a comment on the ongoing issue, the copy will be updated once we receive a response.

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