Caste-virus breeds in IIT labs : A Report

12Jul08

On behalf of Insight & National Dalit students’ Forum, following report is made by visiting IIT delhi campus in the wake of recent inhuman caste atrocity in the campus, one among few which got noticed, hundreds like this go unnoticed. Thanks to media and faculty that successfully bred the caste-virus over the years in such Govt Instituions, by subverting constitutional mandate of equal representation; resulting even after 50 years of few caste superiority in academia.

Report: Caste Atrocity in IIT Delhi

“A caste-hindu by his very make up is incapable of showing any consideration to an untouchable candidate. He is a man with strong sympathies and strong antipathies”
Dr. B.R. Ambedkar (The Untouchables and the Pax Britannica)

I

Last month 12 Dalit students (11 SC & 1 ST) 2 were terminated by the IIT Delhi Administration citing their ‘low academic performances’. It is said that these students were not able to fulfil the criteria of minimum grades required so as to be promoted for next semester. These students are from 1st Year & 2nd year and one from final year. Some among these Dalit students, after receiving the termination letter, complained to the Scheduled Caste Commission about being victimised by the IIT administration due to their caste background.

These students alleged that IIT faculties are highly prejudiced against students coming through reservation provision and practice caste-discrimination against them. They complained of being graded poorly in some courses despite performing well.

The Commission summoned the Director of IIT Delhi and asked him to investigate into the allegations made by the Dalit students and also to review their termination. IIT administration, then, formed a four member Committee (consisting of present and past IIT Faculties) and summoned all the terminated students to put forward their cases on 23rd and 24th May.

On 1st July, the IIT administration submitted one page report to the SC commission stating that it has decided to revoke the expulsion of three students (2 SC and 1 Muslim) by showing leniency as they were short of very less credits. The report further stated that ‘no case of caste discrimination was brought out by the students in their meeting with review committee’.

This is a blatant lie on the part of the IIT Review Committee as when the Dalit students tried to raise the issue of caste discrimination, the members of the committee refused to listen. The members were only inquiring about their academic performances and refused to take up questions related to caste discrimination.

The last paragraph of the report reiterated that ‘IIT Delhi is very sensitive to the special needs of SC/ST students and faculty members spare no efforts in helping them, and indeed all weak students, to come up to our higher academic standards. It is only when we feel that a student is unable to cope up with studies, and would not be able to complete the degree requirements in the maximum allowed period of six years, that we terminate the registration so that the student can avoid further wastage of time and make an alternative education plan for himself.’

II. IITs and SC/ST Students
Every year IITs select students through its Joint Entrance Exam (JEE) offering around 5500 seats for its various undergraduate (B. Tech and Integrated M. Tech) courses. Studies suggest that close to half the seats reserved for SCs and STs remain vacant and that of those admitted a significant proportion, perhaps up to 25 percent, is obliged to drop out. Even though the IIT reserve 15 % of the seats for SCs and 7.5 % for STs, they are often unable to fill even half of this quota3.

Now if we do some simple calculation, we can very easily conclude that SC/ST community looses about 773 IIT undergraduate seats out of total allotted 1237 seats every year. That comes around massive loss of 62 % of the total allotted seats due to, both, unfilled seats at the time of admission and subsequent drop outs.

Recently a news paper article mentioned, taking help from RTI, that “In IIT Bombay, 21 SC/ST students were asked to terminate their undergraduate B.Tech course in 2006-07, 20 SC/ST students in 2005-06 and 19 students in the prior year. The yearly average for SC/ST students’ termination in IIT Delhi and IIT Kharagpur is 11 and 8 respectively.”4

Except IIT Guwahati (founded in 1994) and IIT Roorkee (included as IIT in 2001) all other 5 IITs are at least 45 years old. I will let my readers to calculate the total number of losses suffered by the community in all these years and critically analyse the impact of such losses for the community that has been suffering the inhuman exclusion at every sphere of life, whose only life line has been the constitutional provision for reservation in education and in government jobs.

Hence, it becomes very important for all of us to ponder over two questions that emerge out –

Why even today in IITs about half of the seats for SC/ST students remain unfilled?
Why there is such a high drop out rate of SC/ST students of IITs?
The answers to both the question seem to be that the SC/ST students are ‘weak in studies’. It means that on average a SC/ST student cannot compete with general category student both at the entrance exam as well as during his/her stay at IIT.

Before probing about the ‘weakness’ of SC/ST students, I will like to point out two things –

The cut off marks at IIT entrance exam as well as passing marks in particular subjects in IITs, are not fixed.
The cut off marks for the Dalit students in IIT entrance exams, in any year, are normally 10 % less than the general category cut off that year. The IITs follow relative grading in course works. There are no fixed minimum passing marks. Even if any IIT student has scored 60 % in any particular subject there are chances he/she might be declared failed if the average scoring of other students is slightly higher. Or he/she might not. Since there are no fixed passing marks, the passing of students who have scored less than average becomes the prerogative of individual IIT faculty members.
I came to know about the termination of Dalit students from IIT Delhi in the second week of June. While interacting with these students and listening to their stories, I became little bit aware of how the IIT administration deals with the Dalit students. To have better understanding I decided to interact with more Dalit students from IIT Delhi as well as some of its ex-students. The present report is based on my interactions with them.
III. Manufacturing of ‘weak’ students and construction of ‘merit’ in IITs
While interacting with IIT Delhi’s Dalit students, there were three questions that came to my mind.

Were these students ‘weak’ in the studies and not able to cope up with the rigorous studies in IIT Delhi?
Or/ and they just did not wanted to apply themselves and study hard?
Or there are other factors involve that might be beyond the Dalit students?
The truth that emerges out is shocking to say the least. The Dalit students who are admitted in these IITs are marked as ‘weak’, ‘non-meritorious’, from the very beginning, and their stay in IITs are made as painful as possible. Such behaviour has been institutionalised and has been perfected into fine art by many IIT Faculty members.

According to IIT administration, all the SC/ST students entering into the IITs are ‘weak’ as they have come through reservations. They use each and every opportunity, both inside as well as outside the classes, to make sure that these students are kept aware of this fact that ‘all general category students are meritorious whereas they don’t deserve’ to be in IIT’.

However the truth is that most of the Dalit students entering into IITs are often toppers from their schools. They are, mostly, second generation literate and from lower middle class, rural or semi-urban background with non-English medium schooling. In comparison, the general category students are invariably from upper middle class, urban, upper caste, English medium background. Not only there are marked differences in the backgrounds of the students from these two categories but also their routes to IIT differ immensely and this is where the ‘merit’ is constructed.

‘Merit’ via coaching centres

The recent study conducted by ASSOCHAM reveals that private coaching centres that train students for entrance exams of the IIT and other prestigious engineering colleges ‘mint Rs.100 billion ($2.30 billion) a year – an amount that can fund 30 to 40 new IITs’5. In fact the city of Kota in Rajasthan, boasting of best coaching centres, is flocked by aspiring IIT candidates from all over the country. One particular coaching centre in Kota, in fact, boasts that 1 out of every 4 IITians has been taught by them.

And studying in these centres is not cheap at all. On average, a student spent more than 1 lakh Rs for 8 months coaching during his/her preparation for IIT entrance exam. The impact of coaching industry and the unusual advantage that it gives to their students can be understood by the fact that recently IIT was forced to make changes in their admission procedure from fixing the maximum number of attempts to change in the examination pattern but these cosmetic changes amount nothing.

Now the question is who are those students who flock to these coaching centres and crack tough IIT entrance exams? The answer is not that difficult if one interacts with IIT students, both general and from SC/ST category.

The majority of Dalit students have cleared the IIT JEE exam through self study or taking private tuitions as they were not in position to pay the huge fees for these centres. In comparison it is very rare to find a general category student who had not studied in one or the other big coaching centres. Due to this, the general category students are much better equipped for IIT JEE exams and that reflects in the merit list with higher cut off marks. Still some of the SC/ST candidates are able to score higher than that cut off and reach to general category list. The lower cut off marks for SC/ST students thus become the first indicator pointing towards ‘SC/ST students are weak’.

There is not even a single voice that opposes the coaching centres and the undue advantage they provide to the rich, urban, upper caste students in comparison with those who without money are left to do self preparation.

The IIT JEE exam is one of the toughest exams. Why? To attract the best minds in India is the stock reply. If this is so then what these coaching centres with Rs.100 billion annual turnovers are doing? They are in fact manufacturing “best minds” from those who have deep pockets in this country and are aiding into unequal competition between students from different backgrounds. However, no body will acknowledge this fact as these coaching centres are boon for ‘upper’ caste families as they help them in their claim of being ‘meritorious’.

English language as another marker of ‘Merit’

The majority of the Dalit students entering into IITs are from non-English medium schools whereas the medium of instruction in IITs is English. Once admitted in IIT, these students find it very difficult to follow the classes being taught in English language resulting in their low performance, in initial years, as compared to other students.

Since all the SC/ST students, on taking admission into IITs, are already marked as ‘weak’, the initial low performance of non-English Dalit students feeds into this stereotyping and they easily become the poster boys of ‘quota students’ in highly prejudiced IIT campus. Few Dalit students who are from relatively better background (read English medium) are able to escape from such ignominy, getting an opportunity to pass off as general category, leaving behind these hapless students to suffer the further punishment of being ‘quota’ students.

Instead of acknowledging the difference in background and problem of medium of instruction the IIT faculties also, due to their casteist prejudices, quickly brand these students as ‘undeserving’, ‘not up to the mark’ and ‘forced into IIT through reservation’. Rather than supporting students to cope up with English and gradually come at par with the other students they are hostile or at best indifferent to their plight.

On pretext of their low performance in IIT, many faculty members humiliate and demoralise these Dalit students, both inside and outside the classes, by making remarks on their academic capabilities implying, “since you don’t deserve to be here, now you suffer”.

It is their way of retaliating to the reservation provisions and since they could not stop these students to enter into IITs they try to punish them for that ‘crime’ through such behaviour. To counter reservation there is a strong urge to prove that Dalit students are weak and what better way then targeting those who are already little handicapped in IIT environment!

The rigorous IIT schedule from the day one does not make things easier for these Dalit students either. By the time they are in position to cope up with the IIT culture and rigour they are already under heavy backlog of many courses and on the verge of being terminated due to ‘low academic performance’. Many of them drop out by the end of their 1st and 2nd year and those who some how pass, barely manage to get their degree in 4 years. Most of them take another 1-2 years to get their B. Tech degree, their stay being further marked by demoralisation, stigma and huge alienation.

More than 80 % of the Indian children, those who are fortunate enough to get past 10th std, does their schooling in Hindi or other regional languages as their medium of instruction. Yet IITs, that claim to be ‘institute of National importance’ and teach in English, have failed to develop a proper mechanism to counter the problems faced by these students once admitted in IITs.

Is it due to their incompetence or they are not bothered as they believe that the ‘best minds fit for IITs’ can only be found in urban, English-educated, upper caste students? I believe both reasons to be true plus it gives them a big stick to beat reserve category students with.

Engineering colleges here have copied their entire syllabi from the knowledge produced in the western countries. The faculties teach from the western text and techniques which they learnt from there in 60-70s. The academic research and development of syllabi is in such a sorry state in this country that there is hardly any innovation in teaching, both in texts and techniques. During interaction, IIT students will tell you how these professors teach in the class through their old notes (known as Kharra in hindi slang) promoting only rote learning and discouraging any discussions in the class.

Apart from their incompetency, IIT faculties are also not interested in developing any mechanism regarding language as it does not affect their caste and class interest. IITs have turned themselves completely into institutions for providing lucrative jobs both in India and abroad for the kith and kin of urban English speaking upper caste/middle class and in the process completely sidelining their basic objectives of providing scientists and technologists to the country. It also suits multinationals very well as they need English speaking labourers. Also the knowledge of English gives them the sense of superiority, which they don’t want to lose at any cost, from the so called lower caste. Like Sanskrit earlier, now the English has become the marker of their ‘merit’ and ‘knowledge’.

If IITs remained true to their real objectives of promoting research and development in sciences and technology for the country, it could never have afforded to create an environment that promotes rote learning and finds ‘best brains’ only in a very small segment of the country and brands others as ‘merit-less’ and ‘incompetent’.

Arbitrary Grading system –

Many of the Dalit students complained about being poorly graded despite doing well in the exams. The IITs follow relative grading in course works. There are no fixed minimum passing marks. So if any IIT student has scored 60 % in any particular subject there are chances he/she might be declared failed if the average scoring of other students is slightly higher. Or he/she might not. Since there are no fixed passing marks, the passing of students who have scored less than average becomes the prerogative of individual IIT faculty members.

IV. Institutional Mechanism

If the Dalit students, admitted in IITs through JEE, are so ‘weak’ resulting in such a high dropout rate has IIT administration devised any mechanism to support these students to come at par with others?

Let us examine –

Orientation Programme
There is no such programme for SC/ST students at any point of their stay in IIT leave alone at the time of their admission in IIT Delhi. Such programme, at the beginning, would have helped Dalit students immensely and provided them the confidence in IIT administration. There are hundreds of studies available in many parts of the world that prove the efficacy of such programme for those who face marginalisation in the society.

Remedial Classes for English language and proficiency
In the first semester IIT Delhi offers one course in English language to all those from the non-English background. It is of 3 credits and the faculty teaches XII std level English grammar. It usually has 1-2 classes per week. Thus IIT expects that these students to be proficient in English by attending 18-20 classes to be held in one semester. The interviews with students revealed the non-seriousness of such efforts. Every body said this course is absolutely ineffective as the teacher concentrate only on the English Grammar which anyways they have studied in the schools. The students also allege that this also is not taught to them seriously and students just try to pass in this course to get very valuable 3 credits. Some of the students even fail in this course and have to repeat the course next year.

The main problems faced by the freshers in IIT are that they are unable to catch the accents of most of the professors and also find it difficult to understand the text books in English. So what is important here is the ‘language’ of science not English grammar per se and its remedy is not just one course in English grammar.

The remedy lies only where the individual faculty members identifies students having such problem and support by giving some extra time and promote an atmosphere where the students feel confident to come and interact with the faculties. However, for such environment, it is important not to treat all such students as ‘weak’ and victimise them due to their poor English. Given the level of students-teachers interaction (it is one sided), insincerity and incompetency of IIT faculty members asking for such is really a very tall order.

SC/ST Cell or Equal Opportunity Office
Every University and college in the country has SC/ST cell to monitor the implementation of reservation as well as to redress the grievances of the SC/ST students but IIT Delhi has probably never heard about it or they have given themselves the clean chit of caste-discrimination free campus. Hence the IITs have no such mechanism and the SC/ST students have no space where they can share and interact with the administration on their specific problems. Such cell also works as grievance redressal mechanism against caste-based abuses and discrimination suffered by Dalit students. Given the tendency of IIT faculties to hurl casteist abuses and indulgence in discriminatory grading such mechanism is absolutely necessary.

SC/ST Course adviser
According to IIT prospectus (page 17), “A number of measures exist for helping students belonging to SC and ST categories. A senior faculty member is appointed as adviser to SC/ST students for advising them on academic and non-academic matters.”

However the truth is that not even a single Dalit student was able to tell the name of that Professor who is supposed to look after the problems of SC/ST students. Nobody was even aware of this provision and never came across any information or notice regarding it.

Standing Review Committee (SRC)
This committee composes of number of faculty members including Dean for Under-Graduate students and is supposed to identify student’s problems whose performance is not up to the mark starting from the end of the 1st semester and working with him/her to solve those problems. However, if you interact with the students, you will hear many horrifying stories of how in SRC, instead of patiently dealing with the student’s problem, the members literally rag the students and create an atmosphere where the Dalit students feel like criminals in front of police officials. Getting one’s name in SRC becomes another marker of being a ‘weak’ student. The list is sent to the faculty members and that information is used by many faculty members to humiliate Dalit students in SRC list as now it is ‘officially proved’ that these students are ‘undeserving’ and ‘not fit for IITs’.

f. Student Counselling Service

IIT Delhi runs a Student Counselling Service under the aegis of Board for Student Welfare for ‘assisting students in sorting out their difficulties and dilemmas in an environment where they can talk freely and in confidence about any matter which is troubling them.’ The staff includes psychologists, a psychiatric, and is also drawn from faculty and student volunteers.

Many of the IIT faculty members believe this Counselling service to be panacea for all ills. So if a student is facing difficulties in course, the professor often suggest, “to visit the counsellor and get your mind checked”. During my interaction the Dalit students gave mixed reaction on the efficacy of the counselling services. Many of them are of the opinion that they visit counsellor for the problems that is purely academic and hope that these are conveyed to the concerned faculty members but all of them were unanimous in its ineffectiveness in dealing with caste problem. More over counsellor also treats them as ‘weak’ students as one incident narrated by ex-student will show. In 2002, when this student went to Counsellor for his problems, he was categorically told that he was having such problems as he was a reserved category candidate and would never able to cope up with the IIT atmosphere.

g. SC/ST faculty members

Since IITs are of ‘national importance’, there is no provision of reservation in faculty recruitment. While interaction with the Dalit students, none of them were able to name even any single professor from these two categories. It is shocking to know that in all these years (more than 45 years) IIT Delhi has failed to recruit any faculty members from marginalised background. This itself is testimony of the type of exclusion practised by IITs.

h. Support System

Dalit students not only lack any institutional mechanism but they themselves also could not help each other as IIT Delhi has banned formation of any students’ groups in the campus other than those that are run by the administration (for extra-curricular activities). Some of the ex-students tried to organise informally but were not successful as the administration started harassing them and also it was difficult to interact with all the SC/ST students clandestinely due to difficulty in identifying students from other departments.

The MIT in USA on which IITs are said to be modelled have plethora of recognised student bodies of different minorities (like a very strong Black students’ Union) and run various programmes that provide much needed space for these students to interact with each other and that helps in articulating their problems and negotiating with administration.

However, IITs believe that there are only two types of students – General Category and ‘weak’ students that don’t deserve to be in IIT. Hence they copied every thing from MIT but forgot to replicate the democratic institutional spaces provided by MIT for students from different backgrounds.

i. Study on problems faced by SC/ST students

It is interesting to note that IITs have not carried even a single systematic study of problems faced by the Dalit students. One look at the website of MIT will tell you the number of studies conducted on the problems faced by women and African Americans and the steps taken by MIT to solve those problems. However, IITs here are not at all interested to do such study and make efforts to solve the problems of Dalit students as they believe that all the SC/ST students are born inferior.
V. Some Experiences of Dalit IIT Students

Student No. 1 (Final Year) –

Professors in IIT are undoubtedly better from rest in the country, but there are some who need to be corrected. They ask the students caste and category on their poor performance. They have two things in mind – SC/ST students are weak or weak students are SC/STs. In my first semester, Physics professor was taking my viva and I was not able to answer then she became very annoyed and asked me, “Are you from quota?” I said, “No.” Then she said, “Quota means SC/ST.” I again answered, “No.”

She was asking the same question to general category students also if they were not able to answer. What is this mentality of the professor? Is it correct for professors to ask the category if one is not able to answer? Throughout her classes I had the fear that if she came to know my category she would do something wrong in my grading so I was quite nervous and never went to her for any help or to clarify my doubts. I don’t understand why professors create these kinds of situations.

Student No. 2 (IInd Year) –

I was doing a course in Bio-tech department. Due to my illness, I didn’t appear for the one of the exams in that course. There is a rule if the student has not appeared in examination due to medical reason, he can be allowed re-exam with medical certificate. When I asked for my re-examination, the professor immediately replied, “Reservation lekar IIT mein aa jate ho aur exam bhi nahi dete.” (You come through reservations in IIT and then don’t sit for exams).

I could not say anything because here students don’t speak anything before professors as our fate is ultimately in their hand. They may fail us if they wish. However, I kept on requesting for re-examination. Later he agreed but I was failed in that exam. One more time I had gone to the same professor to clarify something related to my term paper. He immediately said,” No, I don’t know anything”. I never went back to him again then. Due to such behaviour from IIT faculties we are forced to feel like a criminal in front of the police.

Student No. 3 (Final Year) –

In one of the classes of Energy Studies, in 2006, the professor started saying that reservation is unjust as undeserving students from reserved category are selected while upper caste students who are meritorious are left out and indulge in theft and robbery. All the students listened to him quietly but I wonder what would have been the response of the professor if any SC/ST students had argued against him in the class.

Student No. 4 (IIIrd Year) –

In the last semester I was giving viva exam for Energy Conversion lab. When I was not able to answer the question, one of the professors asked my lab partner whether I am from reserved category. He replied,”yes”. The professor said, “Ohh” and did not ask any question from me afterwards.

Student No. 5 (IIIrd Year) –

I want to narrate one of my experiences of SRC (Standing Review Committee) meeting which is supposed to monitor the student’s performance but actually does nothing. The objectives remain on paper only. It is never helpful in sorting out student’s problem or to improve his performance. No one wants to hear our problems. Only your past examination marks are asked and then you are grilled / ragged for that and that is why most of the students don’t want to go to its meetings.

Before the SRC meeting we are supposed to fill a form mentioning our problems. In the meeting one of the Professors sits with all records and briefs other faculty members about the student. In one such meeting I was also called. I filled up the form where I mentioned all my problems. When I went inside, one professor showed my records to the two neighbouring Professors and said in hushed tone, “SC student”. Then one of the Professors said, “ok, let him go”. No body asked anything about my problems. I felt it was utter waste to attend the SRC meetings. I didn’t understand the purpose to fill up the form if they did not ask anything.

Student No. 6 (IIIrd Year)

Here in IIT, we cannot form any group. Pravin Togadia and Singhal can come and speak in IIT hostel (they came under the tenure of previous IIT Director) but the students cannot organise Dr. Ambedkar Jayanti in the campus. Since last 2-3 years the SC/ST Employees association is organising Dr Ambedkar Jayanti as the administration could not harm them but 3-4 years back some senior Dalit students tried to organise that. They faced stiff resistance from the IIT administration and were categorically asked the need for celebrating Dr. Ambedkar’s birthday.

If any Dalit student wants to organise an orientation programme for SC/ST freshers, he is harassed by the faculty members like anything. It happened with one of our seniors. Since IIT does not organise any such programme, he tried to contact the IIT Administration for organising this, immediately a letter was sent at his home that, “Your son is involved in politics”. Later he was harassed by the faculty members also.

One funny incident I want to tell that actually will reflect on the prejudices and ignorance of IIT faculties. Few years back, on Ambedkar Jayanti, SC/ST employees association invited IIT Director as the chief guest. When asked to speak, he just said one sentence, “In IIT there is no Caste discrimination” and went back to his seat!

VI. Interview with ex-IIT Delhi Students

“Do you think all of us should carry audio recorders while attending classes?”

– Shibu, a tribal ex-student of IIT Delhi, teaches in one of the state engineering colleges share his experiences in telephonic interview.
Q. Sir, some SC/ST students of IIT Delhi have raised the question of caste discrimination. What is your opinion? What has been your experience in IIT Delhi?
A. There is no doubt that casteism prevails in the campus very much. The faculty members strongly believe that all SC/ST students are weak and that is why they treat them as inferior. We keep hearing their comments in the class about how weak we are. If we don’t do well in our exam, they blame it on our being from SC/ST category. They will never encourage you in your studies. Once I ask my professor to allow me to work in certain project under him. He flatly refused saying that this project was beyond my capabilities and I could not manage such project. It was very heart breaking for me.

One reason why they easily make comments, without any fear, is absence of SC/ST faculty members. There are no single faculty members from these two categories and that is why the Dalit students face so many problems. There is no body to check them. Students cannot confront as their entire career depends on these teachers. They are the one who will give you marks.

Q. So there is no way in which Dalit students can protest against such comments?
A. Dalit students cannot form any group here and general category students also maintain a very safe distance from them. Most of them try to avoid the Dalit students as they also suffer from the same disease and believe that they are superior. I have seen very minimum level of interaction between the two groups. A few Dalit students who are from relatively well off position might be able to penetrate in their groups but otherwise Dalit students suffer huge alienation both in class and hostel. That is why he has no other choice than tolerate silently all the prejudiced comments. There are not many cases of physical violence in IIT against the Dalit students but in all other state and regional engineering colleges this is a huge problem. The majority of cases of physical violence had been against the Dalit student/s.
Q. Is there no mechanism for redressal relating to caste abuses and prejudices in IIT like SC/ST cell or Equal Opportunity Office?
A. No there is nothing of this sort. At least I am not aware of that. May be officially they might have some but none of us were aware of any such mechanism during my stay in IIT Delhi. There is so much mental harassment of Dalit students. How are you going to prove that? There is no evidence. How will you prove that the teachers made some bad comments about SC/ST and are hostile? Do you think all of us should carry audio recorders while attending classes? I was always asked to answer tough questions in the class by some faculty members. I knew I was targeted being the only reserved category student. But they could very easily say that by asking questions regularly they are in fact trying to persuade me to work much harder. Such logic can be very convenient for them. But I can see the real intentions in their eyes. They want to humiliate me but I cannot prove it. It is so subtle. They have turn caste discrimination in a fine art and have mastered it very well. I don’t think many SC/ST students can escape from this. You have to suffer.
Q. I have heard that there is a provision of one separate course advisor for SC/ST student who is supposed to advise and support Dalit students in their studies? What is your experience with him?
A. I am completely unaware of this provision.
Q. What about the campus placement process?
A. Not many Dalit students get proper placement from the campus. There are many instances where in the whole batch only SC/ST students are left without job. We are not aware how this elimination process during placements works but the fact remains that private sector companies don’t hire Dalit students. In our placement CV, our category is mentioned by the institute. Since private companies do not give any reservation then what is the need of mentioning our category? And moreover, many good companies don’t allow students with CGPA less than 6.75 to sit for their placement exams and interviews and not many Dalits have such CGPA. They, by then, have been so much demoralized by the whole environment that they only are concerned about getting their degrees. But even in those companies where there is no such CGPA criteria the chances are very less for Dalit students. They are forced to only think of less lucrative government jobs like in PSUs.
Q. What is your experience while teaching in one of the reputed state engineering college?
A. The situation remains the same even if an SC/ST becomes faculty. They try to harass you here also. Here also they try every possible means to force you out of the institute. Once you join they will immediately start giving extra works- both teaching and non-teaching. They will speak very softly but you will immediately get tough courses to teach. Some of them might even provoke students against you. Normally the Dalit faculty members are very student friendly as they genuinely want to support students being aware of the problems faced by them. However, most of the time, this gesture become counter productive as students start believing that you are a weak person and start taking you granted. In my institute there are only two more Dalit faculty members and I sometimes listen their harrowing experiences and wonder how could they manage to stay for so long in that institute.

“I knew I was stigmatized for ever”
– Rakesh Kumar, a Dalit ex student of IIT Delhi narrates his experience
I completed my B. Tech Course from IIT Delhi in 2003. When I was in my first year in IIT Delhi, I was attending a Chemistry class (in one of the first few), some of the students after giving their attendances tried to bunk the class from the back door. One of the students (with surname Srivastava) was caught. The professor got very angry and started scolding him and asked names of other students who went out. There were 5-6 students who had gone outside. One of them had surname ‘Meena’. As soon as professor heard his name, he became angrier and started making very derogatory comments like ‘I know how they come here’, ‘these SC/ST students don’t deserve to come to IIT’ and ‘they are ruining the IIT atmosphere’. He spoke about for more than 15 minutes giving a ‘discourse’ on how ‘un-teachable’ SC/ST students were. I was sitting in the class listening to him.
Now when I look back and reflect about my four years of stay in IIT, I can understand how that one particular incident had marked my student life there.
How could I trust the IIT professors when they already had passed the judgment on me? I could not draw courage to reveal my caste identity to my friends in IIT. I knew I was stigmatized for ever. Since I knew English I tried to pass off as general category student in front of my class mates. But that was not a happy solution. I used to feel so much uneasiness. I used to hear lots of derogatory remarks about Dr. Ambedkar, Mayawati and about other Dalit students within my friend circle but I could never reply.
After completing my B. Tech, I did job for six months and then I joined Jawaharlal Nehru University for my post graduation. Here things were far better. I came in interaction with Dalit students’ group working there and slowly became assertive about my identity. I started appreciating my background much more. I belong to khatik caste. My forefathers used to take out the skin of dead animals. My family had migrated to Delhi long back and both my parents have raised me by working in tanneries, skinning dead animals. Why should I be ashamed of my parents, my identity? Now I am very much comfortable about my identity and in fact feel proud about my parents.

VII. Brand IIT: The Myths and the Reality
On the basis of admitting ‘meritorious’ students through IIT JEE, much efforts are being made to cleverly create a façade of IITs being a great ‘quality’ institutions, producing ‘brilliant’ researchers, engineers etc. Why this façade is being created?

It is to hide a very important fact.

The Indian Parliament envisioned that the IIT system would “provide scientists and technologists of the highest calibre who would engage in research, design and development to help building the nation towards self-reliance in her technological needs”6. A Central statute, the Indian Institute of Technology Act, 1956, & 1961 declared the IITs to be “of national importance” thus paving the way of huge financial support from the government as well as conferring a high degree of autonomy.

However, instead of providing scientists and technologists working for the country, IITs have turned themselves into institutions for providing lucrative jobs both in India and abroad for the kith and kin of urban English speaking upper caste/middle class and in the process completely sidelining their basic objectives.

This is the precise reason for so much hostility against SC/ST students in these campuses as their entry into these institutions will threaten the chances of ruling class in the job market. They want to monopolize these opportunities and don’t want to share it with any marginalised community in the country.

Hence the need of all the chest thumping, talks of ‘merit’ and IIT being ‘centre of excellence and quality’ becomes necessary so as to hide the fact that the IITs rather than preparing students for research and development (the reason for their creation) have completely metamorphed themselves into institutions that cater only to the interests of the parasitic upper caste/middle class and the multinationals.

That is the only reason why one notices years after year that the ‘quality’ of IITs being marked in direct proportion to the pay packages offered to the students by these multinationals and not by any technological innovations.

If the IITs remained honest towards their basic objective of facilitating the development of the country through research, they would have gladly accepted the entry of students from the communities that have been directly involved in the production processes like Dalits and Tribals, instead of stigmatising these students as inherently ‘weak’ based on their performance in Entrance Exam.
IITs: Foreigners’ benevolence towards a Third World country
The ‘upper’ caste IITians both faculties and students (including ex-students) bemoan a lot about reservation policy for SC/ST students claiming that it downgrades the quality of Brand ‘IIT’. However, the truth is that these IITs, itself, are product of largesse of developed countries. These countries, not only, provided them technical and financial support to start with but are still helping them to upgrade, to remain at par, through liberal scholarships and various other assistance so that the Indians could run such ‘institutes of excellence’.
The repository of ‘upper caste merit’ (read IITs) in India are creation of foreign countries in the name of the ‘aid in development for a Third World Country’. IIT Bombay was founded in 1958. It was set up by UNESCO and the erstwhile Soviet Union. IIT Madras was established in 1959 with technical, academic and financial assistance from the Government of the erstwhile West Germany. IIT Kanpur was established in 1959 by the US government and consortium of nine US universities helped to set up the research laboratories and academic programmes there. Similarly IIT Delhi was established in 1961 on the benevolence shown by the former colonial masters United Kingdom.

Till now, not even a single IIT can stand on its own in terms of research, cutting edge technology, training, even after guzzling huge amount of money from the Indian exchequer and huge financial aides from various other sources including foreign countries.
Large number of today’s merit-mongers benefited from these foreign scholarships together with an opportunity to study in liberal and discrimination free foreign campuses. It would have been interesting if the citizens of these countries opposed these opportunities provided to Indians arguing that such efforts were diluting the ‘quality’ of their campuses and taking away opportunities from their own deserving candidates.

Ranking of IITs at International Level
In the Shanghai Jiao Tong University’s Academic Ranking of World Universities (2006), IIT Kharagpur was the only engineering college from India listed among the top 500 universities worldwide and that too among the lowest bracket (below 400). The purpose of this ranking by Chinese university was, “to find out the gap between Chinese universities and world-class universities, particularly in terms of academic or research performance.”
This ranking is an honest attempt by Chinese to improve their universities and technical institutes. In contrast, nobody has ever heard of such an attempt from India. Except one, not even a single IIT figures in top 500 institutes worldwide. It is intriguing that IITs monopolized by much ‘meritorious’ ‘upper’ caste community are not able to compete with foreign institutions even after 60 years of continued support and assistance from many reputed institutions and at the expense of huge public money! (The budgetary allocations for IITs for the year 2005 were whopping 650 crores).



16 Responses to “Caste-virus breeds in IIT labs : A Report”

  1. 1 Caleb

    This article REEKS of bias, rather than anything else. Do you agree that ALL students in IIT have the SAME grading system, that it IS indeed impartial? If you people cannot cope with it and expect special privileges at every facet in life, that is your fallacy. Heaven knows that you have been pampered enough over the last 60 years. If you people are so confident of being as good as the rest of the people, then why do you NEED reservation? Start working for the complete removal of reservations!!

    Second: I frankly can say this “There IS no caste discrimination in any IIT or IISc”. I’m a student at one of these places. Perhaps that IS your problem!! That there IS not discrimination!! Maybe what you need is discrimination TOWARDS your community, which you can then embrace as being “very nurturing towards Sheddus”. Pathetic losers. You people are weeds growing in a garden of roses. First learn to hold your head up with pride on your own, and then talk. Don’t sling mud on your benefactors!!

  2. 2 kureela

    Hindus are born barbaric and dalits have to kick the ass of hindu led government first.what Dr Ambedkar had said to buddhist go and write on the wall that you want to become the ruler class first then you donot require reservation means you will give resevation to these hindu bastard.

  3. 3 Ramesh

    SC/ST or non-SC/ST there are good students and not-so-good students. Good students will find it easy while the not-so-good ones will find it difficult, irrespective of ‘category. There is only one advice for the author of the above story. Work hard and stop imagining things.

  4. 4 kureela

    Dear ramesh,you are hindu who are propogating the RSS and monky sena thought.time has come muslims,christian,buddhist and dalits should join tgether to give two finger to RSS,VHP,bajrang Dal and BJP.their is no black color in indian flag and dalits have to burn the Indian flag and ask for the seprate settlement away from barbaric hindus.

  5. I COMPLETELY AGREE WITH U.
    IF SC/ST STUDENTS R NOT SO GOOD 2 COPE UP WITH IIT REQUIREMENT WHY THEY R SUMMARILY EXPELLED FROM INSTITUTE? WHY THEY R NOT HELPED TO DEVELOPE THERE ACADEMIC PERFORMANCE?
    WHY THERE IS NO FACULTY POSITIONING FOR SC/ST IN IIT?

  6. DON`T FORGET 1 IN EVERY 4 IITIAN IS FROM ‘KOTA……..”

  7. 7 LOKESH

    S.C. students should stay confident toeliminate the caste related atrocities.

  8. that ain’t right
    sc and st first of all have so many privileges ,that general students are now having a situation of sc and st. The sc and st asses don’t work hard and get into what ever they wan’t. our country should be completly unbiased and then let the country see how much hard work these sc and st’s do, most of them sith there smoke and dope in a feeling that its easy to get into a college and easy to work their way out. look at these general students who work their ass off to qualify and get addmission. i think reservation should be taken out of our constitution. let every body have equal opportunity. i m not against sc and st’s treatment but lets think about it that they are being given so much quotas and still they are actin like jerks and complaining about partialities and stuff.

  9. 9 VIJAY ANAND

    1.WORK HARDER THAN THE OPPONENT
    2.IF U DONT UNDERSTAND DONT COMPROMISE AND GO TO NEXT STEP.SOLVE I T AND GO FOR THE NEXT STEP
    3.HAVE THE COURAGE TO ACCEPT THE FAILURES AND OVERCOME IT 2MORROW
    4.TRY TO DO A THING PERFECTLY
    5.ALWAYS BRING IN QUALITY IN UR WORK,COLLEGE,HOUSE,WHILE U SPEAK ,BEHAVE….
    6.BRING OUT INNOVATIVE IDEAS(SO WORK MORE FASTER)
    7.DO THE RIGHT WHICH MAJORITY OF THE PEOPLE THINK IT AS RIGHT
    8.TRY TO IMPROVE THE THE QUALITY OF HUMANBEINGS
    9.WORK SMARTER………DONT FEEL SHY TO ASK HELP
    10.EACH AND EVERY HUMILIATION MUST MAKE U WORK MORE HARDER

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  12. 12 akhil d

    i think the cream people r selected in iits, it is not necessary they should be upper caste people.IOT IS EVERYONE S RIGHT TO GET ADMISSION IN IITS IF THEY WORK HARD FOR IT.IF A SC CANDIDATE GETS SELECTED HE SHOULD NOT BE TORTURED IN IIT.

  13. 13 Swasti

    I have to say that it is true that IIT is more like a factory outlet for high paying job without much emphasis on research and innovation and students are suffering out of it…but that means all students are suffering from this, not just quota students…it seems like the writer of this article is trying to gain sympathy in whatever ways he can…also not just that …not all non quota students are rich, upper caste, urban students…and not all go to expensive tutoring, I have known people who work hard for years and do self study and get through the IIT Exams. I believe in ‘where there is a will there is a way’…if I was in the position of quota students and someone laugh me off then I would do everything I can to prove myself better than what others think- by working hard instead of going around and asking more cushions and comfort…
    Most of the African countries have slow progress, disastrous political situation and they survive on aid…aid from US and European countries…this aid is specifically created so that the resource rich African countries could never stand on their feet and western companies could exploit this instable condition for their own benefit. You see this is what exactly is happening to quota students in our country…since they know that they can work a little less to get the same seat …they will always work a little less…and that would become there standard….quota students but no one else…are ruining their own future…

  14. 14 Anne

    The writer of this article is a sadist who loves conjuring things according to his whims and fancies. Have read the article and to be honest it is silly. It is very didactic in its take on caste discrimination in iits which is not prevalent at all. It is very melodramatic and theatrical after a certain point. I think the author is mentally deranged because he wants us to believe that the divide between haves and have-nots is based on caste whereas it is actually based on their economic conditions.
    I have friends belonging to sc st category but coming from highly affluent background (kids of government gazetted officers) who have very successfully managed to waste their time in 10+ while we were slogging hard. At the end of 2 yrs they are very confident of getting a seat in iit under quota system(even with a very poor score). These are the students who will be kicked out of iit and there is nothing wrong in it. If you dont work hard for something, you dont appreciate the value of that thing and thats when you dont deserve it. The author is completely clueless about the ground reality. I dont know what kind of jerks he has spoken to.
    There are students from this background hailing from extremely inaccessible regions of bihar ,up,mp,orissa, jharkhand who have passed out from iit with flying colors on their own. Hats Off to them!!
    Its my suggestion to the author to use his brains and not depend upon rankings released by India’s arch rival China cause we all know how good Chinese universities really are.

  15. 15 anurag

    I belong to SC/ST category and have done my BE from PEC,Chandigarh.I do not know about the IIT’s but i know the mindset of a general category person, if he gets selected he keeps on boasting that he has worked so hard etc etc.But if he does not gets selected than instead of getting jealous with the people of his own category, he vents out his frustration on sc/st people.
    I ask these general category if they are so supremely confident of their abilities than why do not they stop taking coaching and prepare on their own. I know not a single person(with the resources) will do this..
    Indian society in general is a stinking society and i see no change in this mindset for atleast some decade to come. i have also observed a incident similar to (Rakesh Kumar) during my days in PEC.
    I appeal to all my sc/st friends that general people will always tag you whether you succeed or not. So let them shout, just remember Shree B R Ambedkar survived all the hardship 100 years back and gave a tight slap to so called narrow minded people with his abilities. just think if he can shine at that time with almost little support than we too can shine. To get motivated just read the autobiography of Sh BR Ambadker
    I only urge my sc/st friends to study with such a voracious appetite that these general category people are forced to admit your intelligence .i have read that during his PHD days at USA, B R Ambadker used to study for 18 hours a day. if he can do this ,why can’t we do that.But i know even then these general category people will device some new ways to taunt us.But lets care a damn.
    STAY CONNECTED AND STAY UNITED AND STUDY VERY VERY HARD .


  1. 1 Marxist-Leninist-Stalinist-Maoist Media » Caste-virus breeds in IIT labs : A Report

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