“Democratic spaces are shrinking in our academic halls. Gaps against equality continue
to widen in our educational institutions”, said com. Subashini Ali, President DSMM at a
Special convention organised by Tamil Nadu Untouchability Eradication Front on
“Issues of social discrimination and violations of reservation norms in central
universities, IIT’s” on 3rd September in Chennai.
“Ragging was once very rampant in colleges and higher educational institutions. Since
ragging was made a criminal offence by UGC, now it has been drastically reduced in
educational institutions. Likewise caste discrimination should be converted in to a
criminal act and actions should be taken under Atrocities Act. This will discourage
students and faculty from following the caste system on campuses”, said Mr. Sukdeo
Thorat, former chairperson of University Grant Commission in his inaugural address.
He further said that, “most of the students from dominant caste are coming to higher
educational institutions with fully loaded ideas that justify the caste supremacy and
discrimination. They perceive reserved candidates are grabbing their seats in higher
educational institution and hence they follow all sorts of discrimination, humiliations to
send them out. Due to this, many SC / ST Students are committing suicides or
dropping out from the institutions”. He suggested that educational institutions should
take steps to educate the educational fraternity and public and raise awareness on the
importance of equality and overcoming any form of caste based discrimination,
harassment against SC/ST Students. He cited examples like ”Democratic Engagement”
of “whites” in “black” areas to understand the pains of the latter in the western society.
Com. K. Samuel raj, General Secretary of TNUEF in his presidential address said,
TNUEF is not happy to organise such convention that even after 75 years of
independence we are talking of discrimination in higher educational institutions.
Education should eradicate all forms of discrimination, but the reality is different. Since
2019, in Chennai IIT alone 9 students have committed suicide and from 2018 to 2022
around 19,000 SC/ST students are dropouts from the IITs and Central Universities
across the country.
Com K. Swaminathan, deputy general secretary of TNUEF moderated the entire
programme. He also shared his experience. Aswin dev of “Chintabar” presented the
concept paper of the conference. The paper highlighted Violations of Reservation norms
both in Student admissions and Faculty recruitment, Non Functioning of SC/ST cells,
Non Implementation of UGC guidelines 2012, Not forming Equal Opportunity cells, Non
representation to oppressed sections to Various committees, No effective mechanism to
give justice to victims of Caste bias etc.
Many students from IIT Madras, Central University of Tamil Nadu in Thiruvarur,
Pondicherry University and University of Hyderabad, educationists, researchers,
Students from SFI, Chintabar, Ambedkar Students Association participated in this
programme.. Some of them shared their experiences of discrimination in campuses with
anguish and concern. They highlighted how Communal forces work inside these
campuses to spread “hate politics” as well as “Caste prejudices”. Yet they expressed
their determination to fight which was a morale booster for the participants.
Com. Subashini Ali in her concluding address said that the fascist BJP-RSS alliance
constantly creates an unfavorable climate for oppressed sections in the society and its
impact on Higher educational institutions is so severe which leads to many suicides
also. Casteism is rampant in the CEIs and top administration is also totally biased. Ever
since the Fascist BJP government came to power, it has been promoting anti-poor,
patriarchal, feudal, casteist mentality at all levels.”, To counter this, she said that “our
dialogue needs to be expanded. It requires a unified front. She further requested
scholarly study circles operating under many names such as Ambedkar – Periyar Study
Circle, Ambedkar – Bhagat Singh Study Circle, the other progressive student
movements, including the SFI in IITs and other higher educational institutions to come
together. The cadres of these organisations have tough task of breaking the politics of
hatred against Dalit-Muslim students.”
Com. Aravindsamy, President SFI -TN and Puducherry while addressing the students
said that in Tiruvarur and Pondicherry University SC/ST students are continuously
discriminated through denial or delay in giving the scholarships. Students are facing
humiliation based on caste, rural background, colour, outlook, the language they speak
etc., Students from the districts where these Universities are there should be given 8 %
reservation. But this reservation is not followed.
A resolution moved by Devan, Chintabar has been passed unanimously by the house
demanding Special law against caste bias in Central Educational Institutions and
appropriate measures to create congenial atmosphere in campus for students of oppressed sections.