HYDERABAD: Developing a page on their websites where students belonging to the SC, ST or OBC communities facing discrimination can register a complaint seems an uphill task for several Higher Educational Institutions which pride upon their rankings.
Separate website for the purpose was one of the actions proposed in the letters sent by the University Grants Commission (UGC) to universities across India on five occasions regarding prevention of caste-based discrimination in HEIs - one each in July 2011 and 2013 and thrice during March, July and September in 2016, following the suicide of Dalit scholar Rohith Vemula.
However, apart from a handful of universities in the country, none bothered to take this measure. The list includes the well-known universities from Hyderabad including the IIT - Hyderabad, University of Hyderabad, English and Foreign Languages University, Osmania University and JNTU - H.
It is not just the universities who are supposed to take measures to prevent caste discrimination but as per the UGC (Promotion of Equity in Higher Education Institutions) Regulations, 2012, even Deemed-to-be Universities and private colleges have to set up a mechanism to ensure no discrimination takes place on the campus based on caste, creed, religion, language, ethnicity, gender or disability.
However, not even the well-known private educational institutions in Hyderabad have developed a web page for students to complain against discrimination.This is in spite of the UGC mentioning in its four letters clearly: “The University/Institute/College may develop a page on their website for lodging such complaints of caste discrimination by SC/ST students...”.While the UGC asked for the Action Taken Report from all universities in a letter last September, it has not yet made the data public as to how many varsities responded.
No equal opportunity cell
The 2012 regulations by UGC on Prevention of Caste Discrimination in HEIs, including private institutions, also mentions it explicitly that all HEIs should appoint an Anti-Discrimination Officer and establish an Equal Opportunity Cell. However, almost none of the private HEIs and even some of the government varsities in Hyderabad have set up an EOC
Some universities including OU, Professor Jayashankar Telangana State Agricultural University and JNTU-H do have a SC/ST Cell which looks after activities like maintenance of reservation roster and effective implementation of reservation policy along with registering complaints regarding caste discrimination, but they are yet to appoint a separate Anti-Discrimination Officer as per the UGC rules