What Does IIT Bombay Marking Canteen Tables 'Vegetarian Only' Signify?

By Tanishka Urade

1 October, 2023

The intersection of vegetarianism, caste dynamics, and discrimination at India's premier educational institute, IIT Bombay, reveals unsettling truths.

- Vegetarianism in India holds distinct caste-driven connotations, often rooted in notions of purity and impurity. - Sudha Murty's admission about carrying a spoon for 'pure' vegetarianism illustrates Brahmanical undertones.

Unique Caste-Infused Vegetarianism:

- IIT Bombay's canteen introduced 'vegetarian only' seating areas, drawing condemnation from anti-caste groups. - A protest ensued, and the administration eventually termed the 'vegetarian only' posters as 'unauthorized'.

IIT Bombay's 'Vegetarian Only' Move:

Allegations of Caste Discrimination:

- IIT Bombay has faced allegations of caste discrimination, with tragic consequences, like student's suicide. - Internal surveys and recruitment practices reveal deep-rooted issues of exclusion.

- IIT Madras previously designated separate entrances and wash basins for vegetarian and non-vegetarian students, echoing historical caste-based divisions. - Some IIT directors have made controversial statements linking non-vegetarianism to climate change.

Historical Precedents in IITs:

IITs and the Wider Context:

- IITs are seen as reflecting a nationally important ideology aligned with the Hindutva agenda. - The banning of beef consumption in Maharashtra and the historical weaponization of food in caste society underscore the broader context.

The unsettling dynamics at IIT Bombay highlight the need to address discrimination, exclusion, and caste-related issues in Indian society and prestigious educational institutions. This is a complex and deeply rooted problem that deserves further examination.