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

How Many Colleges Really Have A Functioning Redressal Cell For The Marginalised?

This post is a part of JaatiNahiAdhikaar, a campaign by Youth Ki Awaaz with National Campaign on Dalit Human Rights & Safai Karamchari Andolan, to demand implementation of scholarships in higher education for SC/ST students, and to end the practice of manual scavenging. Click here to find out more.

Yes, even my college hasn’t created their own committee for addressing the issues of Dalit-Bahujan-Adivasi students in campus but it has implemented the UGC guidelines of 12th plan which talks about forming Equal Opportunity Committee as a redressal mechanism in higher institutions for SC/ST students.

In my campus, Equality Opportunity Cell was established by one Bahujan teacher while in some institutions, no such cells have been formed. This signifies that the teaching staff from the Dalit-Bahujan-Adivasi background are the ones who can make these guidelines well established in campuses. Lack of similar action from most of the teachers belonging to the so-called upper castes clearly shows their mindsets.

I got to know from the Vice-President of Equal Opportunity Cell (EOC) of my campus that it is only the cell that takes some actions regarding concerns of Dalit-Bahujan-Adivasi (DBA) students through protests, discussions but the administration doesn’t play any role in it. And now, even the EOC works less, with limited powers, as now even the convener of EOC is from a so-called upper caste who has made the functionality of any event difficult. The union of EOC have to ask her and the conduct of all events depends on her whims and fancies.

This is also suppressing as it stops us from raising or voice as much as needed to make our issues get noticed in the mainstream of college. Teachers do discriminate but it’s difficult to approach the administration for they don’t even consider the complaint. The Vice President stated, “College administration has zero roles. Even if we are able to conduct discussions and open mike events., stage a few protests and sit in, we won’t get any result. But we can atleast ease out our minds from the burden of doing nothing.”

This is the reality of redressal mechanisms in one of the prestigious college of University of Delhi. You can imagine the conditions of other colleges and universities across India and the discrimination faced by the DBA students in these campuses as the environment, administration, professors, students have a Brahminist ideology. Now let’s look at the regulations of UGC 12th plan and how far it has been implemented.

Representational image. Photo: The Indian Express

University Grants Commission (Grievances Redressal) Regulation 2012

Concerning the increasing number of allegations of harassment made by DBA students, University Grants Commission (Grievances Redressal) Regulation 2012 was formed by UGC to prohibit the harassment, discrimination on the grounds of caste and to ensure a caste-bias free environment in campuses.

It includes establishing Equal Opportunity Cells, SC/ST Cells concerning issues related to finance, social, political, family as mandated by the UGC guidelines to be followed by higher educational institutions. It includes the appointment of anti-discriminatory faculty advisors for SC/ST students to be able to approach them with their problems for help. These guidelines show how a campus can be rid of caste bias effectively but we need to take a bite of the reality sandwich.

Let’s have a look at the Thorat Committee of 2007 to check the history of caste discrimination in these campuses. UGC later came up with some special provisions to ensure equal representation and the anti-discrimination environment in these institutions in its 12th plan.

History Of Caste Discrimination In Higher Institutions: 2007 Report Of Thorat Committee

A committee was formed to check on the discrimination and alleged harassment of SC/ST students in AIIMS, Delhi mentioned through various complaints. Under the chairmanship of Sukhdeo Thorat, then UGC Head, this committee was formed.

The 77 pages report revealed  76% were asked about their caste directly or indirectly during evaluations, while 84% claimed their grades were affected owing to their caste.

Students were forced to live in isolation in hostel rooms, faced discrimination in mess, faced abuse and violence by dominant castes and external examiners were invited for the viva of SC/ST students. “Nearly 25-30 students in top educational institutes have died in the last decade or so but the subsequent governments have failed to take any concrete policy decision to end caste discrimination in educational institutes,” Sukhdeo Thorat told this to the New Indian Express on 31st May 2019.

It has been 14 years since this report was passed but the situation is only getting worse.

Let’s have a look at the recent surveys, facts which reveal how determined our system is to make the higher educational institutions “caste-bias” free.

Students of the Tata Institute of Social Sciences protesting| Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Students Union 2017-18/Facebook

How Far Have The UGC Guidelines Been Implemented?

Bhumika Jain, on 9 August 2019, reported in SabrangIndia that in a recent survey conducted by the Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Indian Institute of Science, BITS Pilani and Christ University, it was found that UGC Guidelines are yet to be implemented in colleges/universities. Teachers and students of less than a third (42) of 132 institutes had information that they can access the equal opportunity cells or SC/ST cells or lodge a complaint against the ill-treatment being done to them. Only 4 of the 15 institutes (having a badge of ‘institute of excellence’) and 4 of the 13 IITs had the same information while none of the 6 first-generation IIMs had this information.

On 9 July 2019, Indian Express reported, HRD Ministry revealed that over 70 cases of caste discrimination in universities and colleges across the country were reported to the University Grants Commission during 2017-18 in which 66 were cases related to students of Scheduled Castes and 6 were of Scheduled Tribes.

There are a number of studies and cases of caste discrimination against SC/ST students. From Balmukund, Rohith Vemula to the recent cases of Payal Tadvi and Muthukrishnan Jeevananthan these were deaths by suicide which should be called as “institutional murders” as these institutions created such conditions for these DBA students where they felt forced to take their own lives. 

The representation of SC/ST students are already much lower in these higher institutions and the existence of an environment with no one to listen to, harassment by so-called “upper castes” and systemic ignorance of their issues furthers their problems. 

The government and administration of these institutions should think until they get an answer to these questions.

Are these institutions really inclusive? Are the students are treated equally? Do they need more Rohits and Payals to die to ensure effective redressal mechanism in higher educational institutions?

We are entering a new decade. Will we be entering with “new” cases of harassment in these higher educational institutions?

Note: The author is part of the current batch of the Jaati Nahi, Adhikaar Writer’s Training Program. Head here to know more about the program and to apply for an upcoming batch!

This post is part of theJaati Nahi, Adhikaar Writers' Training Program, a campaign by Youth Ki Awaaz with National Campaign on Dalit Human Rights & Safai Karamchari Andolan, to demand implementation of scholarships in higher education for SC/ST students, and to end the practice of manual scavenging. Click here to find out more and apply.

You must be to comment.

More from aashika shivangi Singh

Similar Posts

By Prityush Sharma

By Parveen

By ginju mathew

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