This post has been self-published on Youth Ki Awaaz by Abhishek Jha. Just like them, anyone can publish on Youth Ki Awaaz.

An IIT Roorkee Student Explains: Of The 73 Expelled, 90% Students Were From Reserved Category

More from Abhishek Jha

By Abhishek Jha:

A student from IIT Roorkee compiled statistics on the expulsion of 73 students from the institute. The student’s argument is that if the policy of expelling students below the cumulative grade of 5 were to continue, it would- in conjunction with the relative grading system- lead to expulsion of a total of 30% students by the time a batch of students completes its degree. Another shocking statistics by the same student, who wishes to remain anonymous for fear of reprisal from the institute, reveals that “out of the 73 students, 31 were from ST category, 23 from SC category, 4 from PD, 8 from OBC & 7 from general category (90.4% students are from the reserved category).” While we discussed previously how the very idea of expulsion on the criterion of grades is flawed, here we seek to address the revealed statistics in the context of caste.

IIT Roorkee

 

Why Discuss Caste In IIT?
Because caste is so intrinsically woven into the social fabric of this country, there is little need for arguing that these statistics should be examined vis-a-vis casteist practices in IITs, the relation between merit and caste at IITs, and the reservation policies. However, it would not be useless to understand how historically, caste privilege had put upper castes on a perch in the field of technical education in particular. Ajantha Subramanian, an anthropologist from Harvard University, writes in Making Merit: The Indian Institutes of Technology and the Social Life of Caste: “As the numbers of Europeans in Madras Presidency’s engineering profession fell over the early twentieth century, Brahmins were the single largest group of Indians who filled the vacuum, this despite being barely 3 percent of the total regional population (Fuller and Narasimhan 2008). Not all Tamil Brahmins were inducted into engineering,and Vellalas and other upper castes were also key beneficiaries. Nevertheless, as a caste, they became disproportionately well represented across the modern professions….it was the distinction between industrial labor and artisanship on the one hand, and the engineering profession on the other, that ultimately convinced Brahmins that they could enter this new occupation without the loss of status.” Thus it can be argued that the engineering profession is not untouched by the hegemony of caste privilege. What is today known as the “general category” or “merit based admission” already rests on accumulated social capital.

How One Becomes Casteless
Nevertheless, the aforementioned statistics have led those against reservations to already claim that the admission process is flawed because it admits “undeserving” students into the institute. The claim is based on double oversight. About half the seats (about 1000 students are admitted to IIT-R ever year) in IITs are reserved. Therefore, the first oversight in the matter is that, of the (around) 500 students, only 64 students could not acquire the alleged “merit” “deserving” of an IIT student. It was also overlooked in the claim that those who languished below the 5 point bar (the unfairness of which has already been argued) included 7 students who are by the anti-reservation brigade considered by default “meritorious” or “talented“. Here is the second oversight in the matter. As Subramanian points out, ‘The distinction drawn ….between “the socially-deprived” and “the talented” illustrates the ability of upper castes to inhabit a casteless norm. After all, he refers to upper castes, not as “the socially-advantaged” but simply asthe talented.”’ After this self-transformative re-christening, this upper-caste then perceives a disadvantage. This perception remains even after seats were doubled and new IITs built when OBC reservations were introduced.
Some of those positioned against reservation also blame the reservations themselves for the heightened awareness of one’s caste in IITs (an observation I have gathered from my years in preparation for JEE and from the subsequent years at IIT-R) and, sometimes, also for casteism inside the institute. They are right to an extent and Subramanian concurs with them: “Identitarian claims are no longer just the resort of the powerless; in the face of subaltern assertion, the powerful are similarly inclined.” But this assertion is incomplete because it overlooks the fact that the “inclination” of the powerful stems not from being historically deprived or from a current social handicap but, precisely, because of being asked to compete on a level playing field, where caste inequality is compensated. The heightened awareness of the caste of the other is then the upper-caste’s inability to see its “modern capital” as a transformation of its “caste capital“.

Casteism And Reservation
However, this inability has its repercussions. Manish Kumar, a student of IIT Roorkee, committed suicide, some 4 years ago, allegedly due to casteist taunts. On Youtube, what appears to be a documentary video, which I chanced upon in my first year at college, shows Manish’s parents alleging that the institute even tried to cover up the incident and protect the accused. The story is similar in other elite institutions of this country, as reports show.

The failure of these 64 students in participating in the 5 point chase, the suicides of students, the de-recognition of Ambedkar Periyar Study Circle, etc. means not that reservations are useless but that more needs to be done, as sociologist Satish Deshpande pointed out in The Hindu in March this year. Deshpande rightly pointed out that reservations are not just “welfare programmes” handed out by the “caste-less nation” to “certain castes“. “From such a vantage point, it is impossible to see that the true origins of reservation lie in a promise of good faith that forms the core of the social contract on which our nation is founded“, Deshpande wrote, referring to the Poona Pact of 1932 where Ambedkar withdrew his claim for separate electorate for the untouchable castes. He also dismisses replacing caste criteria with economic criteria as it is “the promise of full citizenship” itself. “Note that such a policy is not about “historical wrongs” in the dim past, but about contemporary forms of caste inequality, and that replacing caste with economic criteria misses the whole point of caste discrimination that exists in varied forms across all classes,” he says. Of course, he concludes, that the “reservation policy as it exists today is flawed” but its “rethinking” is needed “because it is no longer enough.”

Anybody who defends the institute in failing its reserved category students and the casteist bias in it, falls into the trap of deeming oneself casteless by aforementioned machinations. It is the pet excuse of administrators to offer rules as their circumscribing limit. But it is they themselves who make the rules. It is reminiscent of the 1931 Malabar Hill meeting between Gandhi and Ambedkar, where Gandhi glibly offered that “Congress has spent not less than rupees twently lakhs on the uplift of the Untouchables. And it is really surprising that men like you should offer opposition to me and the Congress.” The prompt reply from Ambedkar was “But let me tell you frankly that Congress did nothing beyond giving formal recognition to this problem….Had it been sincere, it would have surely made the removal of untouchability a condition…for becoming a member of the Congress… Had there been such a condition, you could have avoided the ridiculous sight where the President of the District Congress Committee was seen opposing the temple entry of the Untouchables!”

This is Part II of a series. Read Part I here.

Take campus conversations to the next level. Become a YKA Campus Correspondent today! Sign up here.

You must be to comment.
  1. ahmad fawaz

    am glad that the institute has taken the bold step.It’s politically incorrect to criticise ‘reserved category’ students in India but it’s high time that the defunct policy of caste based reservation is junked. Had it helped ,at least 6.7% of targeted population would have entered creamy layer section in last 67 years. If it hasn’t , then we know who are gobbling up the lion’s share of reservation pie and is claiming it to be their divine non-negotiable right.

  2. Rajeev

    Ridiculous. This article is absurd in the extreme, whereas part 1 had made some excellent arguments. I am an IITian in one of the 5 initial IITs, and I have seen people from very poor socially disadvantaged backgrounds excelling academically (people who had to undergo the worst struggles of being socially disadvantaged.) To argue that these people could not have achieved a better grade is an insult to the other hundreds of people who came to Roorkee from a socially disadvantaged background and did achieve a better grade. Within IIT, I have seen NO excuse for not performing and while some discrimination may exist, it is quite actively looked down upon.

    Disclaimer: I support reservations and most of what is described about the current situation of caste inequality and the discrimination faced by “lower” castes. I also agree that the idea of a CPI at 5 is ridiculous; and if at all, should be at 4 (becuase 4 is actually a failing grade, whereas <5 must represent a percentage of students.) But this seems to be a ridiculous attempt to introduce caste into something which has nothing to do with it. Statements about Congress, Manish, Ambedkar Circle, etc. are all unfortunate events, but, except for Manish's suicide, have NOTHING to do with the current article.

    1. Abhishek Jha

      “About half the seats (about 1000 students are admitted to IIT-R ever year) in IITs are reserved. Therefore, the first oversight in the matter is that, of the (around) 500 students, only 64 students could not acquire the alleged “merit” “deserving” of an IIT student.” -Doesn’t this say that, even by the institute’s own idea of merit (discussed in the previous article), reserved category students are equally capable of excelling academically?
      It is on the contrary those people who are against reservation that say that these students were somehow intrinsically incapable of “merit” and deserved to be expelled.

    2. Avinesh Saini

      The 7 general category students deserve to be expelled. And so does the 64 students from the reserved category. I have no sympathy for bigots who think thet they are intrinsically incapable. However, unlike the other 440 students from the reserved category in the institute, these students failed to achieve the requisite grades. Hence, there is no point blaming the institute in case they choose to remove them.

  3. Aryan

    The author seems to be paranoid. He seems to be having some sort of personal grudge and enemity or hatred. Everything is written in so confusing and negative manner. Go get a life man.

  4. Avinesh Saini

    The institute didn’t fali the students. They failed due to their own inability to score higher. As you can yourself see that even most students in the reserved category managed to obtain 5 CGPA in spite of their social “backwardness”. The institute has got to evaluate the students based on grades, no matter what neo liberals like you feel about it. Anyway, I guess you won’t be advocating the case of the 7 general students who were terminated.

  5. Baba

    Dear Mr Jha,
    I have studied in UOR the previous avatar of the IIT Roorkee and I know from my first had experience the nature of Roorkee faculty’s castiest mindset. some of the professors were truly nasty and openly abused the reserved category students. So I am not surprised to see that IIT Roorkee has expelled that many category students. They just want to show the other older IITs what can be dome. SC reservation has been there in older IITs and they never expelled this many students. It has just never happened. I know the quality of the faculty and most of them will be kicked out if the same criteria is applied onto them. The logic is very simple. IIT Roorkee takes more general category students in the first year. Expels reserved category students after first year. Then all the seats are open for the general category students and nearly all of these seats then go to them. This is very clever method of diluting the reservation and now you will have more than 80% general category students in all the top branches.

  6. true indian

    upper caste students or general category students are not beggars,they are occupying seats and vacancies by their own merit.Nobody is giving them alms.On contrary reserved category students use constitutional backdoor committing constitutional dacoity by destroying taxpayers’ money.In most of the cases people admitted through reservation or appointed through reservation are pitifully less capable—i have experienced it in school,college,university and govt offices.so i cannot be politically correct.Seats in higher educational institutions and govt jobs are not ‘mithai ki dukan’ where proportionate distribution can happen without hampering quality,these are all competitive seats/jobs.In fact the idea of proportionate representation in higher educational institutions and govt jobs are flawed and absurd while it may have some merit in case of legislatures as during election all candidates whether SC/STs,women,Generals follow the same rule of the game-there is no relax-able norm for anyone except reservation of seats(as we have no separate electorate system right now).

More from Abhishek Jha

Similar Posts

By Author Anonymous

By BigChange

By @krantikari_yuva

Wondering what to write about?

Here are some topics to get you started

Share your details to download the report.









We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

Share your details to download the report.









We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

Share your details to download the report.









We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

Sign up for the Youth Ki Awaaz Prime Ministerial Brief below