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Will We Call Out The Nepotism In Academia That Has Been Furthering Casteism?

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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.

Sharmaji ka beta toh Sharma Ji ke Jaise hoshiyar hai (Sharmaji’s child is intelligent like Sharma Ji)”, “Sharma Ji ke ladke/ladki se seekho (learn from Sharmaji’s son/daughter)” are phrases commonly used to show the superiority of work and I am sure you have also come across these dialogues in your surroundings or your social media spaces. Have you ever questioned why only ‘Sharma Ji ka ladka/ladki’ can do everything?

Representational image.

The idea of merit is used in higher educational institutes to make them inaccessible to DBA students.

Sharma Ji Ka Ladka Ka Caste Privilege

This particular saying has a caste root carrying multidimensionality. ‘Sharma Ji’ is an upper-caste surname in northern India signifying only so-called upper caste people can achieve things, other people should get some motivation from them.

Does anyone mention that ‘Sharma Ji ka ladka/ladki’ is having caste privilege, social and economic capital?.

No, nobody told you that because from our houses to higher educational institutions, there is a dominance of savarnas who don’t want others to see how caste linkage is working in every field so their children could get in everywhere.

Sharma Ji ka ladka/ladki” talks about how Sushant Singh Rajput, an outsider for film industry made his career on his own, fought with the dominant royal houses of Bollywood, how he challenged nepotism in Bollywood. Savarna children do debates on nepotism in their own colleges and spaces but did they call out the nepotism in Indian academia ever?

Yes, nepotism in Indian academia is not just about how one family member is using their power for others to let in into the course/job but also how the people of the so-called upper caste use their power/status to benefit the people who belong to their caste

One student of Masters from arts faculty, the University of Delhi whom I interviewed on this whole debate stated that there are teachers quota also functioning through which teacher’s child can get admission and we all know who consists the teaching staff in large percentage in such places.

Caste And Indian Academia

According to the All India Survey of Higher Education (AISHE) shows there are 12,84,000 teachers in various higher education institutions as of 2017-18. Of these, 56.8% of teaching staff are from the general category, 8.6% are Scheduled Caste, while Scheduled Tribes are a mere 2.27%. 

When we look into history, we see how the varna system used to function and how this has modified with time. People who had all resources are now having even more wealth and resources.

A two-year-long study jointly undertaken by the Savitribai Phule Pune University (SPPU), Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), and Indian Institute of Dalit Studies. Only 22.3% of the country’s higher caste Hindus own 41% of the country’s total wealth and form the richest group, whereas 7.8% of Hindu Scheduled Tribes own only 3.7%, or the lowest wealth share of the country’s assets, finds the study.”- The Hindu reported in February 2019.

Economic conditions laid the path for opportunities, and access to resources.

If people from so-called upper castes don’t take any position in government educational institutions they can go for better private institutions for pursuing the same course which they didn’t get in a government institute. There is a management quota in private colleges in MBBS in which students can get admission if they have a low percentage in NEET but big bank balance, it costs 80 lakhs approx to one crore rupees per seat. It simply means that the savarna is going to grab it. To check the fee under the management quota, you can visit this provided link.

NEP 2020

The introduction of NEP 2020 will further hinder DBA students from getting quality and affordable higher education.

Already this system has made the path for getting higher education filled with thorns for DBA students and now one of the central universities has come up with a supernumerary quota.

Recently, According to PTI on December 24, 2020, DU has approved a supernumerary quota according to which a minimum of five students can be selected by the principal of the college and university aside from the students who have to get admitted through the merit list. We can be very assured about it where these five students will come from. This is another systematic attempt to shatter the dream of  DBA’s students to study in these central universities.

The system is that much determined to become a Dronacharya that it doesn’t want to let any Eklavya entered into institutions for which New Education Policy has been introduced and implemented in the times of global pandemic Covid-19. This is how the caste system is being rooted with high intensity in educational institutions.

The New Education Policy And Inaccessibility to DBA Students

 New Education Policy 2020 in its draft under point number 10 – ‘Institutional restructuring and consolidation’, on page no. 34 in sub-point 10.4 talks about “autonomy to colleges” and on page no. 35 in sub-point 10.5 talks about “HEIs will have the autonomy“. 

Autonomous institutions mean no application of reservation, hike in fees, no accountability to government and people. It simply signifies that the path for receiving higher studies will be open to only savarnas while DBA has to get into the menial works.

This is a brahminist, casteist system which doesn’t want to let DBA students enter the education sector because they know education is the key to one’s liberation. Savarnas don’t want to see DBA’s liberated because if DBA gets liberation who will be there to serve them? to bear their oppression which gives them a sense of superiority?

Delhi university

DU recently announced a supernumerary quota that will allow principals of colleges to choose 5 students for seats.

Caste doesn’t work ina vacuum, it works with the collective sense when this collective sense of being superior works in educational institutions, it works as favoritism, nepotism, casteism in academia which also establishes the prejudices like ‘meritless’, ‘beggars of reservation’, ‘caste is a past thing’, against students of Dalit-Bahujan-Adivasi descent.

Do we have to question in every field to the system, to the administration why only “Sharma Ji ka ladka/ladki” is having all opportunities? Why only they can do everything? And on the same time, we (DBA students) have to break this prejudice of only “Sharma Ji ka ladka/ladki can do best” in thousand pieces so the voice of breaking and resistance of ours reach the minds of savarnas through their ears.

Featured image is for representational purposes only.

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!

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