MALAPPURAM: The pain one goes through when facing caste discrimination is indescribable. The situation that some research scholars in Calicut University, which is touted as one of the safe places for people from all castes and creeds, have to go through is a matter of shame.
The recent incident in which two professors from Calicut University were asked to go on compulsory leave till the investigation into the alleged caste discrimination ends throws light on caste-based preferences being given by some professors of one of the top universities in the state.
Four research scholars from the Botany Department’s Cyanobacterial Diversity Division filed a complaint against their guide on Tuesday. Though Vice-Chancellor K Mohammed Basheer had ordered a Syndicate committee to investigate into the matter, the students demanded the suspension of the professors.
Later following strong protest from research scholars, the VC asked the professors to go on compulsory leave for a week.
Arun T Ram, one among the four scholars who filed a complaint against the Botany department professor, said his professor treated him badly and often made unpleasant comments based on his
“She would say I should not think of getting a job after the PhD programme because I belong to a scheduled category. She would also say most of the people in my caste are street cleaners and even if you earn a PhD, you will not get any better job than the cleaning job. For my performance on the research subject, she would say one should expect more from the people like me from the Scheduled Caste,” said Arun, who is one among the four students who filed a complaint against the Botany Department professor.
Sindu, another student who filed a complaint against the head of the Malayalam Department in the university two weeks ago, said she had to face acute caste discrimination and harassment from her research guide.
“I was the only Dalit student in the department. I feel my caste is also a reason for the troubles I had to face during my research period. I was summoned by the department head several times for silly matters while other students were spared when they made similar mistakes.
“The department head maintained two rules - one for me and the other for the rest of the students. At last, I had to file a complaint against him to approve my thesis,” said Sindu, who completed her research from the University on September 6, 2019.
Sindu further said the university has not yet released the investigation report on the caste discrimination complaint of a Dalit student filed in 2014.
Members of the All Kerala Research Scholars Association (AKRSA) said though many research scholars have raised complaints against professors for caste discrimination and other discouraging attitude, the university authorities have failed to take proper action on the complaints. “Every time the university gets such complaints from the research scholars, the authorities put the researcher under a new guide. Such a measure will not end the caste discrimination issues. A detailed investigation should be conducted and proper action taken against the professors who treat their students based on caste and religion,” said Bhavesh P K, secretary of AKRSA.
Meanwhile, Vice-Chancellor K Mohammed Basheer said no one could ascertain all the professors in the university treat the research scholars based on their caste. He added it was the first incident based on caste discrimination reported from the university since he took charge as the VC in 2015.
“We have already started an investigation into the complaints filed by research scholars. The investigation committee will complete the inquiry within a week and further action will be taken based on its report.
“The committee will also conduct a detailed investigation into the problems being faced by research students. The committee will find out ways to improve the relationship between research scholars and professors. The university will not achieve greatness if the fight between research scholars and professors continue and I understand this totally,” said Mohammed Basheer.