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Wednesday, June 15, 2011

70 - 14th Jan 2010 – A Letter – Caste Virus in IIT Kanpur

The Ministry,
Human Resource and Development,
Government of India,
New Delhi.

Subject: Caste based discrimination with SC/ST students in IIT Kanpur

Respected Sir/ Madam,

Indian Institute of Technologies (IITs) are premier institutions of our country that were built by the Union Government to develop best engineering and technological brains for our country. For this to happen, IITs are given large autonomy so that they could function quite independently keeping with the best interest for our country.

However, we are greatly concerned as students of IIT Kanpur, that this particular IIT is flouting all the rules and regulations and practicing discriminatory behaviour in the name of institutional autonomy. Rather than becoming an Institute that promotes equal opportunity to all Indian citizens, as envisaged by Indian constitution, IIT Kanpur is creating hurdles for students from the marginalized sections of the society. For example, whether there is any Scheduled Caste or Scheduled Tribe faculty member in IIT Kanpur is unknown to us. Since IIT Kanpur is an autonomous body, administrators have no fear of any enquiry. Thus all the rules and regulations are overlooked for their personal interest and dictatorship. Even the decisions of the Senate, Board of Governors, Finance Committee, Building and Works Committee, are not made public.


In last few years the ranking of this elite institute has dropped down to 146 rank (Dainik jagran, Kanpur, 5th Jan., 2010). Who should be terminated? The Administrators/ Professors or the Students? Apart from this glaring example, we, the Dalit students of IIT Kanpur, want to mentions some facts to draw your kind attention.

1. Every year the reserve category students (SC/ST) qualify the JEE/JAM/GATE competition exam and enter this elite institute. We come here with lots of expectations and hope, but as we step here, our hopes get shattered as we face caste based discrimination in terms of academics and other activities. We are being discouraged to continue our studies and are regularly failed intentionally in various subjects to ruin our careers in the name of poor academics or CPI. 
Consequently they put us in AP, AP*, DP, DPC, Warning and terminations and many leave the degree/program when they cannot sustain in these conditions. These students are not only from the first year but even the final years too.

2. When we are facing some doubts or trouble in our academics and try to approach the concerned instructor, they just don’t pay heed to our problems. They try to neglect us by saying that “search it on google or any other website”. Though
instructors encourage us to ask questions but when we try to ask our doubts they make fun of us and they reply something like “don’t ask me such simple and silly questions”.

3. I.I.T. Kanpur authority have informed media (as per ‘HINDUSTAN’ dated 6th of January 2010 page no.3 column first) that 111 students were terminated but after mercy appeal 26 students have not been reinstated because of disciplinary and academic grounds. Sir we would like to inform you that we are not involved in any undisciplined activities and also we are not under any “disciplinary probation”. However Hindustan newspaper reports (8th January, 2010, Kanpur) that there are 38 students who have been terminated and this number may increase. The cause of terminations are poor CPI and health problem. This is in contradiction to what the authorities have informed earlier (‘HINDUSTAN’ dated 6th January,2010).

4. The suicide cases in IITK have increased in last few years. We are informed about the suicides and fact finding committees through e-mails that they will enquire for the cause of such incidents. The committee consists of the Institute professors itself. The report of the fact finding committee is never made open even to the IIT community. Here are some of the suicide cases that we would like to bring to your notice.

A) On Saturday, Jan 3 ,2009 G Suman, a post-graduate IIT student allegedly committed suicide in Kanpur by hanging himself in hostel room. (SC student).
B) Prashant Kureel, 19 April, 2008 a first year student of electrical engineering commit suicide in his hostel room ,he was not a weaker student as he is one of the top student in IIT-JEE exam. (SC student).
C) Ms. Toya , May 2008.
D) Mr. Durgesh Vikram who was under psychological treatment, attempted suicide at Kanpur Central Railway track.
E) A female student attempt suicide by hanging herself in her room. His life was saved when someone who saw her from window.
F) A student committed suicide by drinking mortein. He was referred from Health Centre to Regency hospital and his life was saved.

Similarly there has been numerous suicide attempts whose cases can be enquired through students.

5. The different levels of meetings, especially Senate, where the termination cases are discussed we do not know whether there are SC/ST representatives in both student and faculty members. When we approach to the concerned member of the Senate they just ask caste and category and even after full assurance to support most of them decline to
keep their promises later or in Senate meeting. a.) The counseling service (CS) does not seem to be supportive. Even though IIT Kanpur spends lots of money on it they never ask the students about their difficulties throughout the semester . But when we get terminated they just call the students in lecture room and sympathize us that they are with us. Whenever we consult them, they always try to neglect us in lieu of poor academics and behave as if we have got depression feelings. The previous CS head Prof. Gautom Deo and current CS head Prof. A.K.Gosh and Dean of Student’s Affairs –Prof. Partha Chakraborty, are chain smokers. Thus, when we tell our problems, they keep on smoking cigarettes and at last they scold us for poor performance. They don’t arrange for extra classes, training, and skills , as they are
prejudiced that we SC/ST are poor in studies and have come through quota.

6. Here In IIT-Kanpur we have a grade system viz.A=10 ,B=8 ,C=6, D=4 and F=2 . But in other IIT’s the grading system is A=10, A-=9, B=8, B-=7, C=6, C-=5, D=4, and F=2 .

e.g. If someone gets 60 marks in a particular course he is getting C grade but if he get 59 then according to IIT-Kanpur grading he is awarded D grade. So there is big gap between C=6 and D=4.But according to other IIT’s it is not so much difference between C and D.

7.Our exam answer sheets have our name and roll numbers on them. Thus, It is easy to know a person’s category from his/her answer sheet and hence they can grade us with lower marks than what we deserve. As a result due to biased grading system most of our students either drop out or are compelled to complete the course in more than the allotted ime period. The administration terminates students twice in a year (two semesters). The number of such terminated students increase every semester .Consequently very few SC and ST students complete the course within the stipulated time. (After termination they don’t reinstate easily and if reinstated the student degree gets extended thus PSU sector don’t give jobs to the extended degree holder students).

8. There are few SC and ST students who managed to survive in this biased system and are in the final year of their courses and about to complete their degrees but now they have been terminated. Now they have nothing in their hand and have even lost their valuable time.

9. When the first appeal from terminated students for reinstatement is turn-down by the concerned authorities, the reasons for such step of turning down the appeal are never clearly given out. Even before his/her appeal, the terminated student is always made to feel low and insecure by telling that he/she has almost no chance to study in IIT.

The Institute administration says that one can re-appeal any number of times. With this hope, we wait for 6 months for the next senate meeting but again we come to know that our re-appeal has been turned down without any concrete easons. As a result our valuable time and hope is lost.

[For e.g. A 2003 batch SC student has been re-appealing for the last 18months but every time his appeal is turned down by the Senate under the Chairmanship of the Director without any concrete reason ].The concerned authorities only ask us to re-appeal everytime our appeal is turned down.

10. SC/ST cell: Due to all these above problems and harassment, we look for the SC/ST cell in IIT Kanpur but we find no information about it either on the IIT-Kanpur website or anywhere else within the campus so that we can express our grievances .

11. The mandate of Article 46 of the Constitution of India says: “It is not in dispute that SC and ST are a separate class by themselves, and the creamy layer principle is not applicable to them. Article 46 of the Constitution enjoins upon the state to promote with special care the educational and economic interests of the weaker sections and protect them from social injustice and all forms of exploitation. These socially and economically backward categories are to be taken care of at every stage even in the specialised institutions like IITs.” It’s an utter disappointment that in such an elite institution with highly educated community, they haven’t realized the real relevance of reservations even after 60 years of Independence.

12. Despite the recent supreme court ruling (dated 12th August, 2009) on terminating SC/ST students and showing more encouragement towards SC/ST students the IIT Kanpur administration has continued to be indifferent to the woes of SC/ST students. The administration continued to be a deaf ear and continued to terminate SC/ST students trivially. They have not shown any encouragement like always and continue to terminate SC/ST students even on small pretexts.
In such context,we appeal to the concerned authorities in the ministry to take immediate action in IIT Kanpur to save the life and career of SC and ST students otherwise we would be of nowhere inspite of spending our precious time in IIT Kanpur.

Sir, If this continues the day is not far that the “IIT Kanpur” would be better known as “ITI Kanpur.” Looking to it please take immediate action in this matter as our life and career are most affected due to this termination and the social justice can be done as early as possible.

Hoping for a positive response.

Yours Sincerely
SC/ST Students