The marginalized communities, including Dalits, SC and ST are facing oppression in various forms. They are often discriminated against by the people in their society. But what’s more concerning is that people from marginalized communities are now facing difficulties in various educational institutions. This poison is constantly affecting our societies and requires clear attention. A recent example making headlines regarding the seat scandal in IIT Bombay, which is globally ranked 149th and 4th in India according to the NIRF ranking, is a worrisome situation to be dealt with.
The seat scandal in IIT Bombay, where seat denial to marginalized communities is creating a negative impression towards the officials and authorities of these institutions. These seat denials reflect a more significant issue of discrimination that exists in our society and institutions. It’s crucial to recognize that reservations exist to correct historical injustices and uplift the backward community to fit in the same frame as the mainstream communities.
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Seat Scandal in IIT Bombay: An Overview
The Ambedkar-Periyar-Phule Study Circle (APPSC) is a student group formed at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Bombay. Recently, it filed a Right To Information (RIT) query regarding seat anomalies in various departments for SC/ ST communities. In its response, many important findings have been disclosed:
- IIT Bombay denied 80 seats meant for SC, ST, and OBC students and instead admitted 95 more students from the general category in their PhD admissions for 2023.
- Last December, it was found that five departments at IIT Bombay had not accepted any ST candidates for the past 8 years.
- Nearly 20 departments did not admit any ST students, 11 departments rejected SC students, and 5 departments did not admit any OBC students this year.
- The APPSC also highlighted that the Center for Technology Alternatives for Rural Areas (CTARA) hadn’t admitted any ST students in the past 9 years.
The anomalies in the number of students admitted under Ph.D. Admissions 2023 from various categories in IIT Bombay can be clearly seen in the table given below:
|Vacancy Percentage (approx)||16%||8.9 or 9%||30%||44%|
|Selected Percentage (approx)||9%||3%||21%||69%|
From this table, we can find a clear anomaly in the actual seat vacancy percentage to the selected percentage. The marginalized have been denied seats which is forwarded for students belonging to the Unreserved category. In 2010, a bill was introduced as the Central Educational Institutions (Reservation in Admission) Amendment Bill, 2010. This bill states: about the reservation of seats for students belonging to the Scheduled Caste (SC), Scheduled Tribe (ST) and OBC in certain central educational institutions. It states that out of the annual permitted seats for a branch of study or faculty, 15% seats shall be reserved for SC, 7.5% seats for ST and 27% for OBC students.
Also, the bill mentions that if the total number of seats reserved for SCs and STs exceeds 50%, there shall be no reservation for OBCs. The total percentage of reserved seats shall be reduced to 50% in all areas except the specified north-east region (Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Sikkim, Tripura, and tribal areas of Assam).
According to this act, there has been a violation by these institutions. This issue may have serious consequences. The seat scandal in IIT Bombay exposes various violations done by the institute. To counter it, a high power committee must be placed before it and must provide strict action.
Marginalised are harassed everywhere!
In higher education, like in prestigious institutions such as the IITs, cases of oppression against Dalit students are unfortunately not uncommon. The seat scandal in IIT Bombay is a new issue that has come to light but various other oppressions are very much evident in Higher Educational Institutions (HEIs) towards backward communities and also women.
A tragic incident occurred at IIT Bombay on February 12, 2023, where a Dalit student named Darshan Solanki lost his life due to caste-based remarks. Shockingly, the institution denied any involvement or wrongdoing in the matter. This highlights a concerning trend of discrimination that persists in our educational institutions.
Furthermore, in a recent statement in the Upper House, the Education Minister of India, Dharmendra Pradhan shared a distressing statistic. He revealed that between 2014 and 2021, over 120 students had taken their own lives in HEIs, including IITs and NITs. What’s even more distressing is that we don’t have concrete data on how many of these students were Dalits or how much of their suffering was a result of the oppression they faced.
In a situation where educational institutions exhibit such inequalities among students and where the lives of young students are at risk, it becomes a necessity for the government to step in and take decisive action. Addressing these issues is not just a matter of policy but a moral obligation to ensure that every student, regardless of their background gets equal opportunities in pursuing their education.
About Ambedkar-Periyar-Phule Study Circle
The Ambedkar-Periyar-Phule Study Circle (APPSC) plays a vital role in promoting social justice and equality within the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Bombay and beyond. This student group is dedicated to carrying forward the ideas and philosophies of three iconic social reformers: Dr. B. R. Ambedkar, Periyar E.V. Ramasamy, and Jyotirao Phule. Their work is of immense importance for several reasons.
The APPSC’s efforts are a reminder that despite progress, deep-rooted prejudices such as the seat scandal in IIT Bombay and discrimination persist in society. Even during the 19th-century independence movement, leaders were aware of these issues, yet they continued to poison our community. APPSC’s work is a call to action for a more inclusive and equitable society where hate and discrimination have no place.
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