Transcript of ‘Get Out of Class’ Webinar on Casteism in Indian Higher Education Institutes

A multimedia transcript of the Webinar 'Get out of class: Caste and casteism in our top institutions'.
By | Published on Jun 2, 2021

On May 8th 2021, held a webinar with anti-caste voices in the country reacting to the casteist comments made in an IIT Kharagpur online classroom. A report based on the webinar can be read here. This post is a multimedia transcript of the online event that was made possible thanks to STEMPeers community. Video snippets have been prepared by Somak Chowdhury, PhD (@soilmicrobe on Twitter) and the pointers below the videos have been transcribed by Aashima Dogra.

Subhajit Naskar moderated the event.

Subhajit Naskar is Assistant Professor of Politics and International Relations at Jadavpur University. Here are his opening comments:

  1. This webinar is happening in the context of Seema Singh abusing SC/ST students (which is not new and happens at all levels from primary to higher education) and the Twitter storm #End_Casteism_in_India
  2. The myth of caste along with the Savarna understanding of merit is very reductionist and is basically done to gatekeep different public spheres: media, bureaucracy, judiciary etc. In academic spaces, Savarna gatekeeping is done in a violent way through various means, from epistemological patronage to reducing the identities of students from marginalised communities, to making atrocious comments and, in fact, normalising looking down on students from marginalised communities.
  3. This is a global problem, as seen in the CISCO case. As Dr. Ambedkar has said, there would be a time when Indians, casteist Hindus, will travel around the world, and casteism will become a global problem. It has now become a global problem. Caste is everywhere.
  4. My experience in 2 central universities—University of Hyderabad and JNU—have not been really good; it has been largely humiliating and traumatising, and so was the case with many of my friends from marginalised groups. Today, I teach in a “progressive” university—it is otherwise radical without interrogating the caste hindu supremacy of upper caste professors and students, which is a double edged sword for marginalised-caste students.
  5. We are living through pandemic times, which is a double pandemic for students from SC, ST, OBC and even sexual-minority backgrounds. Online teaching is unaffordable by many of these students. Some of my students from tribal areas cannot join my real-time virtual classes on Google platforms. It has amplified the problems of access for these students.
  6. In the Seema Singh case, from the video that leaked, we can see not only how traumatising her use of the words like “bloody b*st**ds” are, but also it is interesting to see her proudly asserting her savarna impunity in the video. “You can’t do anything to me,” she says.
  7. This is the first time such a thing got caught on video, but in the institutes, there have always been underlying ways of perpetuating caste-based discrimination very politely. Some of it is hard to see; for example, when a marginalised-caste student scores handsomely in exams but they score very less, sometimes 0 or 1 out of 20, in interviews.
  8. Some institutes assert their radicalness but they never talk about Ambedkarite, Phuleite and Periyarite tradition; they go on celebrating  savarna men—like Radhakrishnan—who plagiarised his own student’s thesis.
  9. In such a large story of India’s top institutes, we have ample number of experiences from Rohith, to Anitha, in medical institutes there is the Payal Tadvi case, in AIIMS there are many cases, similarly in IIT and in central universities. Students from marginalised communities deal with subtle isolation, humiliation and segregation on a daily basis.
  10. The savarna gatekeeping of knowledge production and their understanding of merit not only otherises students from marginalised communities (as they are being told that this is not your place and you are not ‘meritorious’) it is also reducing India’s higher education standards to nothing. The way savarna merit is eulogized by the savarnas… if it is so qualitative then, why don’t you have an Edinburg or a Oxford or top institute of high standards here in India? I see this as a failure of the savarna idea of merit.

Rehnamol Raveendran’s comments –

Dr Rehnamol Raveendran, is teaching at Delhi University, she did her PhD from JNU and has long experience with Ambedkarite movements. At the webinar she said:

  1. There are overt and covert, reported or unreported cases of atrocities and discrimination against students from marginalised castes across university campuses. The Rohith Vemula incident was a wake up call for a lot of us; it has also been used by left student leaders, who made their career out of it. At the same time, Muthukrishnan’s suicide was met with silence. We need to understand that student leaders drawn from savarna communities have always been anti-dalit and anti-bahujan. Whenever atrocities on dalit students happen it becomes political vendetta for left wing student organisations or for right wing students organisations; it is not that there is a sense of commitment and empathy by mainstream savarna student leaders towards dalit bahujans. There is a need to have bahujan student organisations within campuses and build bahujan networks across the country not only to empower them but also to produce a sense of solidarity. That’s very very important. In IITs, in comparison to social sciences, there is a complete absence of student activism and student mobilisation, they remain “apolitical”. In IITs students from dalit and bahujan backgrounds don’t have a place where they can reach out and get some relief, only thing left to do is suicide or dropout. We need dalit bahujan organisations within Indian campuses to create a solidarity between students from our own communities so they can stand up together to solve their problems collectively instead of taking it as a individual challenge.
  2. The major cause of discrimination in academic institutions, I see is the overrepresentation of the savarnas. It creates a hostile environment for dalits bahujans and an unfavourable ecosystem. There is a vicious cycle that needs to be dismantled, because even when a marginalised student tries to raise an issue, it is considered insignificant by the savarnas as they don’t feel connected to Dalit Bahujans. Here comes the importance of reservations that goes beyond job creation and representation. It makes the institutional structure or the academic environments more democratic. We need inclusive representation where dalit bahujan people occupy administrative and powerful positions in institutes so as to facilitate an environment that is liveable for the dalit bahujans students. This is missing. The 200 roster system or the implementation of reservation for Economic Weaker Section has emboldened the influx of savarnas again into academic institutions, it has stopped a lot of dalit bahujan from people coming in.
  3. The legal and administrative mechanisms in place in universities to halt discrimination against dalit bahujan students are not effective. Makepeace has reported the findings of RTI applications regarding the efficiency of these mechanisms. The UGCs had asked the universities to send ‘action taken report’ and through the RTI application it was revealed that out of 800 universities only 145 universities responded to UGC. And also, only half of the universities have enabled the webpage to lodge a complaint against discrimination by SC ST students on campuses. This is the sad state of affairs of existing mechanisms in place that are not functional. I’m highlighting this only to reiterate the significance of  Rohith Vemula Act. We need to formally go ahead towards implementing this act. With the Rohith Vemula Act it will be possible to criminalise the behaviour of the perpetrators within the campuses and also include the provisions to punish those culprits who are perpetuating discrimination within the universities. For example in IIT Kharagpur, the “bloody bastard” remark is only being considered as misbehaviour of faculty, so we need to criminalise that behaviour. As far as the female students are concerned, we know that the Nirbhaya Act or Sexual Harassment Act are there that criminalise behaviours like staring and stalking. So in some ways these Acts protect the women on the campuses — but not the SC ST Dalit Bahujan students.
  4. Broadly, one factor that is continuously missed is that power positions control everything. The Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment has taken cognisance of the matter at IIT Kharagpur but action has not been taken. The overrepresentation of savarnas is a result of political power dominated by savarnas. We cannot neglect that there is a political patronage of our academic institutions because of which most of the faculty or administration positions are occupied by bootlickers of mainstream political parties. We need to have more political parties and power positions with Ambedkarite ideology.

Tejendra Pratap Gautam’s comments –

Tejendra Pratap Gautam (him/they), a PhD scholar at Centre for Policy Studies, IIT Bombay. At the webinar they said the following:

  1. I want to start by taking names: Rohit Vemula, Aniket Ambore, Fatima Latif, and Payal Tadvi are; some of them were victims of the cast and religious based campus violence. These are the names, which often trigger a reminder in our body and mind about how caste discrimination is embedded in India’s elite institutions and society.
  2. When Aniket died, he was a 22-year-old student; he faced derogatory remarks from his professors and discrimination, often by his colleagues. When he died, IIT Bombay did make a high-level committee without taking any external representative as part of their investigation committee. The elite from the upper castes made the committee. They came with a report that was never published in the public domain but was shared with the family. So we never know the cause and how deep they were seeing this claim made by their family that it was because of caste discrimination that he reached the point of suicide. It is a very traumatising experience whenever we discuss such issues.
  3. What happens in IIT is if you haven’t qualified the IIT Mains, they will put you in the one-year preparatory course, and then they will provide preparatory course work. The same happened with the IIT Kharagpur students. They were not up to the mark up to what the Brahmanical system asks of you because the whole education system is made only, and there is no voice from lower society. They categorise you in a particular category, and then they will try to teach you.
  4. And now in the stressful times when the whole world faces a pandemic, a professor like Seema Singh abuses them with very derogatory remarks, which I really don’t want to utter. It is heart wrenching that students from lower castes and marginalised sections have to go through such experiences. Moreover, it is not the first time this is happening.
  5. In the case of Fatima Latif’s suicide, she was in IIT Madras; she died on 9th November 2019. She also faced derogatory remarks from her professors and discrimination by them on a daily basis. Moreover, the kind of islamophobia she has faced cannot be imagined. It is not just caste but also islamophobia – hate against a different culture, different religions, and different minorities are a very dominant thought in elite institutions.
  6. This is happening because there is very low representation in these institutions by marginalised sections like SC ST and even OBC. If you look at the data, the sanctioned capacity for IIT Kharagpur for SC and ST was something like 1203, but there are only for that particular sanctions there are only 8 SC professors are. Similarly, at IIT Bombay sanctioned capacity is 1034, but there are only 5 SC Professors.
    The Brahmanical forces are very dominant within the campus. In IIT Bombay, I can share some tools that they have. In every mess, they have a Jain counter. On the Hindu festivals or poojas, the majority’s community students can openly celebrate and practice; they can do what they want, but students from marginalised communities face administrative hurdles; for example, our organisations many times don’t get permissions to organise a talk on Ambedkar or Periyar.
  7. To my knowledge, IIT Kharagpur has made a high-level committee, which is taking this incident into account, but what is its composition? How many people are from the SC? We need to know so that accountability can be measured when there is a judgment. This information is not there.
  8. Brahminisation of elite institutions like IITs is very much part of the same Hinduisation, which we are facing every day in current times. It is not like an educated professor who has a foreign degree would be untouched by caste biases. I see caste discrimination in the very soul of modern Hindu society. Caste atrocities are so normalised, since thousand of years of practice that they may not even get acknowledged.
    I know many people don’t want to speak in open spaces. This is how it is happening, and it is how it will continue to happen. I understand that. But we have to manage this way somehow. It is the responsibility of the whole of society to talk about it as often as possible because people are being driven to the point of taking drastic steps. Suicide is no less than institutional murder.
  9. (Translation) Ambedkar said Educate Agitate Organise. When students come to university, in the first step itself, there is discrimination. We have to get educated outside the campuses also, and we have to fight whenever possible.

Riya Singh’s comments –

Riya Singh is a doctoral researcher at at Dr. BR Ambedkar University in Delhi expertising on caste atrocities and is also in the core leadership of Dalit Women Fight collective. At the webinar she said:

  1. In the two institutions I have been part of TISS and CWD-AUD people are generally radical, progressive, leftists, some have claimed to be “caste-crusaders” themselves, some have been part of women’s movement in India etc. However, in my experience, they are hyper-casteist as well.
  2. Unfortunately for something to qualify as caste discrimination/atrocity there has to be a higher degree of harassment or a very clearly visible or verbal abuse. However the pattern of harassment and means of gatekeeping has evolved in the past 10 years. The forms of exclusion and abuse we see now are more subtle and largely everyday in nature. It is a very normalised part of a classroom with an everyday-ness to it. There is no one big casteist incident that happens but it keeps on building on everyday. Everyday in a classroom we see casteist practices and behaviours in form of humour or subtly insults thrown on Dalit students. In my experience, while navigating cases of caste discrimination, the war we fight is largely about endlessly explaining what just happened qualifies to be casteist and why. In return what we get is a constant denial and more often this happens in progressive spaces. What we saw in the IIT Kgp case is Seema Singh was bluntly outspoken and she actually said the word ‘bastards’. I’m still unsure whether the committee will qualify this as caste abuse, they might say that this is abuse but not caste abuse. Even if we produce the evidence, we explain it to them, we bring all kinds of explanatory material that are needed to support the argument, there is a constant denial from them. In progressive spaces, the denial also comes in a powerful way supported by the background of the department as being one that fights for equality and for women’s rights, we are often left aghast at what more we can do to seek some relief.
  3. People in progressive spaces and professors don’t need to be educated, they actually know exactly what they do, they are repeated offenders. Even spaces that are considered sensitive because most people there are women, building pedagogy of discrimination and working on women’s rights cannot be assumed to be free of caste discrimination. My 8 years of experiences comes with many cases of casteism in such spaces, I can share 2 experiences to explain myself further. In 2012, I was in TISS Mumbai doing my masters and there was a course on Caste Class and Gender. We were to be evaluated on an assignment where we had to write our own caste experiences. Firstly I’m not sure how wrong we can go in writing about our own caste experiences. I chose to write about how my parents prepared me before I was entering university after passing out from school. On that paper I scored 4/10 and then 4.5 when I sent a fresh assignment for revaluation. Other students who were also from DBA group also scored less, some even failed with a grade like 3.6 or 3.8
  4. In CWDS-AUD, one faculty member told me that SC ST students should be officially given 7 years to complete their PhD because they cannot finish in 5 (as general students) because they are not academic enough. This shows their prejudice against SC students and DBA students, the reason being they think we have language issues and need more training in academic language, which I think stands equal for all students because all students who enter research degrees are doing research for the first time. There have been students in my batch from Brahmin and Upper Caste backgrounds who studied in Hindi medium schools don’t get this prejudice, rather I see the teachers cooperating and supporting them in learning English and developing their thesis. Whereas the faculty members give up on DBA students stating this reason that they will take much more time, so they are on their own and not much supervision is given to them.
  5. During my M. Phil, a tribal student, was compelled to drop out of the course because she was told multiple times that her language is not good enough and she is not academic enough to carry on with a degree of this kind. All if this was happening informally during face to face meetings and over text messages. Even when we offered support, she had convinced herself that she is not good enough, she stopped coming to university one day. There have been fancy-looking leftist professors who will not leave a chance to comment on the clothes and appearance of research students from DBA communities. This is extremely ridiculous and is happening in so-called prestigious universities in India.
  6. Both CWDS established in 1985 and AUD established in 2008 still do not have SC ST cells in place. My experience of taking up cases of caste discrimination is that university will not take up the case at all, it will call it a petty issue or ideological differences between 2 political students. If eventually a committee is made, they will hardly have representation from SC ST groups. Even when there is representation, since the numbers of SC ST faculty is low, those on committee are under a lot of pressure and can’t afford to be unbiased. The reports of cases that I have taken up are very neutral, they don’t hold the accused accountable, somehow there is a pacifier that comes in between, unless there is a high intensity violence in the case. These committees are often not completely composed of SC ST people that are free to express what they feel, so I think they are also intimidated while sitting in committee rooms. TISS Bombay has a very good model of SC ST cell where all members are from communities so they can come up with judgements that are in favour of DBA students. However, temporary committees set up in universities have failed to do any good for students who come forward with their grievances.
  7. To conclude I want to say that the SC ST Prevention of Atrocities Act is inefficient in tackling the new forms of atrocities taking place in urban areas and academic institutions because it enlists the crimes that are largely still predominant in rural and semi urban areas. So I would not hesitate to say that presently the PoA act just does not address the crimes that are committed on SC ST students in university spaces.

Makepeace Sitlhou’s comments –

Makepeace Sitlhou is a Guwahati based journalist, covering India’s north-east region. She has written for CNN, International Foreign Policy, Vice Asia. She also makes documentaries.

  1. We have been going around the problem for a long time. A lot of us still feel somewhere this needs to be explained from Point A because people are not caught up with defining who is a Dalit and who is a Bahujan. I think we need to start moving to a more solutions oriented dialogue because, for the rest who are still catching up, there is a lot of material to read, many panelists here have written extensively on these issues.
  2. I’m going to be drawing from my reportage and I can speak from my own lived experience, which has guided the way that I have written about caste and understood it. I have spoken to several sources… university professors, students and parents of students who have been lost to suicides because of a centuries old discrimination practice, which might I add, for whatever reason is still defended to death even today, as a misunderstood system that otherwise was enshrined in its some kind of its own democracy or something of that sort. So moving beyond the defence of the caste system…
  3. We have the SC, ST POA act and in my personal opinion it is fairly watertight. There have been attempts at its dilution, which is something that I’ve been very against, but as far as just the provisions of the Act goes, I do think that it doesn’t really fall short on the various ways that discrimination manifests in modern times. I heard a line in a movie that struck me, the character said: it’s not like people change, they just get better at hiding it and hiding their prejudices and their biases. People are surely getting more diplomatic, I mean, there is this whole woke language which has taken on a life of its own. A lot of people are so nuanced and are so well versed in the language that they could probably beat any of us in this panel who really come with actual lived experiences.
  4. When the story on came out I was with Amnesty International India, I was a researcher and a campaigner there. The report followed soon after the first death anniversary of Rohith Vemula in 2017. While I was doing my research I realised that proving caste discrimination on campus can often be riddled with a lot of hurdles. And that’s largely because of the fact that discrimination may not really necessarily be overt, and especially not physical. The very basic understanding that we have of caste discrimination in India is that it got to do with not being able to draw water from a well, or ensuring that your shadow does not put on a Brahmin priest… these are very overt and easier to prove. But when it comes to more white collar spaces like the university, even with all of the extremely tragic deaths that have happened, often the difficulty has been in a being able to say that it is this act, it is these words that have led to someone’s suicide. That was also a huge debate that was raging, even in Rohith Vemula’s case even when there wasn’t an ounce of doubt about what kind of circumstances that led to his death. In many cases where the discrimination is very subtle, it is very relational, that’s often been a challenge for many of these committees that formed in the aftermath of these suicides. So putting this in the human rights framework was quite a challenge because our bar of evidence was not meeting the standards that are typically observed in human rights violations, or what qualifies as human rights violations.
  5. When reading through the various committee reports I saw a lot of good recommendations being put forth by the committee’s that were formed. While I did follow up with the universities at the time, I spoke to the professors of all the universities where suicides happened, and also asked them about what was the changes happened after these committee was formed and the recommendations were made. All across, it had no impact. The places where I asked these questions after Rohith’s death was also JNU where soon after Muthukrishnan’s suicide took place. So I think that’s just in itself says a lot. It just speaks volumes of the complete ineptness of our very Savarna dominated faculty or administration at the helm of these things. It is inconvenient for most people to digest these facts since caste is one those topics in this country that doesn’t fall neatly into a very left or right discourse, it permeates across. I remember coming away from that reporting feeling disheartened by the lack of accountability people in these institutions have towards institutional murders that have happened.
  6. The research process of this report was quite a tumultuous one, because, again, there  weren’t too many civil society reports, or for that matter even human rights reports to lean on, apart from these committee reports. There were a few, you know National Human Rights Commission of India reports to refer to, but nothing which were mounted by some of the leading civil society organisations as well as international organisations that operate in India. I must  state that there was zero Think Tank reports on this pattern of abuse that’s been happening in our institutes for the longest time.
  7. Another thing I did find challenging was, who would be the best person to speak to at these places? Of course the easy thing was to speak to the professors who led these fact finding committees. But I remember at the time my supervisor had suggested that, while I could also speak to students, I should also be speaking to professors who are not necessarily involved. This suggestion was invaluable. These professors has not necessarily been in the fact finding committees, but had spent decades perhaps in those departments to be able to see across generations, across batches, how things had been, and if there were any sort of changes, even in the patterns of, exclusion, abuse, not just about changing from bad to worse or bad to better. That really was very interesting, it was a very good suggestion that I felt helped to really cement what had been each institution’s own pattern so to speak.
  8. One of the things I’d like to fight here is this preparatory class in the zero-th year that more or less are exclusively meant for students from reserved categories before the first year of engineering that starts off. The Seema Singh outburst took place in such a class. In IIT Bombay, again, Aniket Ambhore was in his zero-th year when the incident of his suicide happened. This class is seen as both a helping hand, or as rather the institution’s way of saying that we’ve done our bit, we are starting this preparatory class for these kids so that we don’t exclude them and we can improve the representation in the institute. But at the same time,  the casteist attitude remains. That is kind of in many ways proven by Seema Singh, who has ironically written something (none of which I’ve read) for her to be seen as very sensitive, professional, someone who is very very clued in to the needs of students from reserved categories. An IIT Bombay professor had told me that this whole preparatory class is just another form of upper caste generosity. It is just helping these students but in any way it does not change how teachers approach the students, it hasn’t really shifted the attitude, and what having these students can really bring to the institutions. Especially in institutions like IIT, or for that matter medical institutions and colleges, it’s a very strict box that has been created for all students to kind of fall into that because you know it’s science, it’s very objective, it’s very clear cut, there’s no room for expanding the margins, people’s lives depend on it etc. We’re talking about high packet jobs that you can get based on these degrees so the attitude becomes even more rigid in these spaces. It made a lot of sense to me when one IIt Bombay professor I spoke to talked about the preparatory class being about upper class generosity because what we often consider as someone taking a step towards inclusion is really often a self serving exercise. I think what would be really good is to have some sort of a baseline as well as an endline assessment of the students who go through this preparatory year.  I’ve had nieces who’ve gone through this preparatory class. And I can just say that the sense that I got from them is of complete indebtedness, they feel very indebted being in this space that they feel is something that was given to them. It was not something that they deserved. It was not something that they had the right to. So I think that, in being in that space, being in that mindset already makes you extremely, extremely vulnerable to.
  9. What should be the media’s role in this? How can the media report these instances better? For one, I think it suffices to say that don’t just report deaths. Don’t just wait for people to take their lives, take their own life because that’s the last end point for someone to reach that point of desperation. It reflects very poorly on journalists as well that we wouldn’t really take instances like Seema Singh  so seriously as opposed to a situation where some student from that batch had to committed suicide or something of that sort. We need to be far more tuned to what is happening in these institutions. I mean especially the reporters who are on the education beat…follow up on these committee recommendations, follow up on the data that the UGC can provide to RTI or otherwise through your sources. Follow up before someone else takes their life because that’s not what we should be waiting for.

Shalini Mahadev’s comments –

(Editorial note: In the video above, Shalini’s affiliation is mentioned as a PhD scholar at IIT Hyderabad. However, Shalini is a PhD scholar at the University of Hyderabad. We apologize for this inadvertent mistake.)

Dilip Mandal’s comments –

Prof Dilip C Mandal is a senior journalist (@dilipcmandal) with a long experience covering caste based issues.

  1. I was listening to the presentation of Shalini, and I just felt like crying, because actually I survived the turbulent 90s when a Mandal commission was implemented in 1990, and I was in Delhi University. Everybody in my classroom, teachers and students were saying: (translation) “Oh you are the same ‘Mandal’ like ‘Mandal commission’. There are so many problems because of you.” It was such a frightening experience to go to University because it was such a violent time. I thought, if somebody asks for my identity what will happen? I’ve also seen 2006 anti-reservation movements in Delhi, how so called upper caste people vacated the hospitals by throwing out all the patients in AIIMS, Safdarjung and many hospitals and it was never documented how many patients actually died at that time. I was there as a reporter so I have seen.
  2. Yes, it is very difficult for Dalit Bahunjan student in Indian academic space. I was thinking about what must be going on in the mind of students in the class of Seema Singh. Professor Ratan Lal of Delhi University asked: (translation) “Why didn’t the students say something? Why did they remain quiet?” I think this is not the right question to ask because especially in STEM courses the problem is that overt casteism is still being practiced; in social sciences it’s more covert, more nuanced, and some sort of sensitisation has happened. In viva or oral examinations minority students are given low marks despite getting good marks in written parts. This is a known problem. There have been many reports like the Thorat Committee report committee report that tell us what are the ways to mitigate this problem. Those solutions are there but it hasn’t been implemented.
  3. I think the whole issue is about navigating this space and how to survive it. Yeah, the question is about survival. Because you know, earlier, these institutions were in the form of places, like agrahara or Brahmin colonies, where all the students and all the teachers actually thought that this kind of space is for them only. Connections and networking they have used, and they have translated to education or intellectual capital. Now they are pretending that they have become castless. (Translation) They are pretending that.. “we have reached this stage because of their own merit and students who don’t have it have not been able to reach that stage. Where is the problem with that?” This is the rhetoric.
  4. Things changed after 1950 and then, again, some paradigm shift happened in 1990 and 2006. And after that, you can see that, especially in government institutions/schools, you will find a diversified classroom. In many of the institutions you will find more than fifty percent students are from SC/ST and OBC communities and if you add the number of other minorities the number comes to 60 percent or so. But the teacher and staff remain the same, as if time stopped for them, the structure of the staffroom has not changed. So that is the primary composition of government schools…UC dominated teachers, staffroom and SC, ST, OBC dominated classrooms. And that is actually leading to a ‘bloodbath’. Actually it is a bloodbath, if you consider all events, every suicide might be an extreme, high intensity event, but discrimination is happening in many subtle ways.
  5. So how to navigate this space? I think we have to ponder on that. And my prescription is that we have to demand a diversified faculty and intensify this demand. It is very important because without that, I think, things will not change. Despite so many petitions…many questions were also raised in the parliament about this…the faculty room landscape has not changed. But still we have to stay with this issue, with whatever might and resources we have. Another thing is we need to have solidarities amongst us, we have to align with all the persecuted communities. There should be a larger solidarity between SC, ST, OBCs, even minorities and small sections of upper caste progressives. Third, solidarity, which I think is more important, is to have some sort of global solidarity. We need to align with Blacks, Jews, Romas and all other oppressed communities. I think there is a huge possibility now, because of social media. Without internationalising this issue, we will not be able to counter the strategies and tactics of the upper caste. We have to do something, because we are not here to die. I agree with Shalini.
  6. This time is actually the right time to do sustained efforts because caste is now discussed in the western academy after this book ‘The Caste of Merit’ by Ajanta Subramanian. It is there on the table. Even Brandeis University, the Jewish University in Boston has included caste in the protected category. So I think this is the time we are at the right juncture of history where we can intervene. We have to write in international journals and we have to internationalise the issue.

Rachelle Bharathi Chandran’s comments –

Vaishali Khandekar’s comments –

Prajwal Gaikwad’s comments –

About the author(s)

Aashima is a freelance science communicator, author and editor. She co-founded in 2016.