After an assistant professor purportedly quit over the problem, the ugly face of caste-based discrimination has reared its head at the famous Indian Institute of Technology, Madras. Assistant Professor Vipin P Veetil of the Department of Humanities and Social Sciences claimed that the discrimination came from individuals in positions of power, regardless of their claimed political affiliations or gender, in an e-mail sent to faculty members that was leaked to the media on Thursday.
‘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 proposed that the IIT-M form a committee to investigate the experiences of SC and OBC faculty members, with members from the SC/ST commission, the OBC commission, and psychiatrists.
Vipin also encouraged anyone who had been discriminated against to submit complaints with the institute’s grievance committee as well as the courts. Express has not received a response from the professor, but a few other faculty members have acknowledged receiving Vipin’s email. A professor refused to contribute to the allegations’ credibility.
‘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, ChintaBar, an independent student organisation at IIT-M, has published a statement requesting that the administration and relevant authorities conduct a timely investigation 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’.
IITs have recently been in the spotlight for caste discrimination against students as well as continuous violations of reservation requirements in PhD admissions and faculty recruitment, according to ChintaBar. “We have been requesting that the institute establish functional SC, ST, and OBC cells, as well as increase the scope of the grievance redressal procedure.