CHENNAI: The ugly face of caste-based discrimination has raised its head in the prestigious Indian Institute of Technology, Madras after an assistant professor allegedly resigned over the issue.
In an e-mail sent to the members of faculty, which was leaked to the media on Thursday, Assistant Professor Vipin P Veetil from the Department of Humanities and Social Sciences has claimed that the discrimination came from individuals in position of power, irrespective of their claimed political affiliations and gender.
“There were multiple specific instances of discrimination and I shall be pursuing appropriate action to address it,” Vipin said in the letter. He added, “One of the curious phenomena I have observed here is that the Bayesian prior among many is that caste discrimination is a rare occurrence. My own experience, and conservation with members of SC and OBC communities, suggests that the prior is far from true.”
Vipin suggested the IIT-M to set up a committee to study experiences of SC and OBC faculty members, and that such a committee have members of the SC/ST commission, OBC commission and psychologists. He also encouraged the people who have faced discrimination to file complaints with the grievance committee at the institute and with courts.
‘We have demanded SC, ST and OBC cells here’
Vipin also encouraged the people who have faced discrimination to file complaints with the grievance committee at the institute and with courts. The professor has not responded to Express’ calls or messages, however, few other faculty members have confirmed receiving Vipin’s email. A faculty member refused to add merit to the allegations.
“Vipin himself said he joined the institute in 2019. IIT-M hardly functioned during most part of 2020 and 2021. There were fewer interactions between professors. He should share what kind of discrimination he faced. Reputation of IIT Madras, one of India’s premier institutes, can not be tarnished unfairly.”
Meanwhile, the IIT-M independent student group, ChintaBar, has issued a statement asking the administration and authorities concerned to conduct an inquiry in a time-bound manner into Vipin’s resignation. “We also urge the students, faculty and administration to come together to ideate on the reforms required to make our academic spaces more inclusive.”
ChintaBar said IITs have been in the news recently for caste discrimination against students and for the persistent violation of reservation norms in PhD admissions and faculty recruitment. “We have been demanding the setting up of functioning SC, ST and OBC cells in the institute and for expanding the scope of the grievance redressal mechanism.
We have also been demanding proper implementation of reservation norms in admissions of research scholars and faculty recruitment as stipulated by Central Education Institutions Acts, 2006 and 2019.” IIT-M registrar, Jane Prasad, refused to comment on the issue.