Keep Casteist Slurs Off Campuses, UGC Warns Varsities

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New Delhi: The University Grants Commission (UGC) has reiterated its advisory to universities to stop incidents of caste-based discrimination on their campuses and strengthen the redressal mechanism.

In a communication issued to vice-chancellors on Wednesday, the higher education watchdog has suggested:

1. Universities, institutes and affiliated colleges may develop a page on their website for lodging complaints of caste discrimination by SC/ST students.

2. The faculty members should desist from any acts of discrimination against SC/ST students on the grounds of their social origin.

3. Institutions of higher learning should constitute committees to look into complaints of discrimination from SC/ST/OBC students/teachers and non-teaching staff.

4. Vic-chancellors must send ‘an action taken report’ to the UGC.

The latest circular comes against repeated complaints of casteist slurs reported from campuses across the country.

A survey done by researchers from Tata Institute of Social Sciences, IIS, BITS-Pilani and Christ University in Mumbai revealed that several universities had failed to implement the recommendations made by UGC from time to time.

It said that only about 40 of the institutes surveyed had any information that could enable students or faculty to access the SC/ST Cell or lodge a complaint.

It also found that only 4 of the 13 IITs and none of the older IIMs had any mechanism to register caste-based complaints.

UGC had first issued a circular in 2011 asking the universities to be sensitive to this aspect and adopt a mechanism to prevent discrimination against SC/ST students.

Thereafter, circulars were issued periodically in 2013, twice in 2016, 2017 and on June 4, 2018. But there was no let-up in such incidents.

The Parliament was informed in 2017 that 102 such cases were reported alone in 2015-16.

Incidents that rocked the nation:

The issue had become a national debate following the suicide of research scholar Rohit Vemula in Hyderabad Central University in 2016.

The suicide of 26-year-old Payal Tadvi, a second-year student of TN Topiwala National Medical College in Mumbai earlier this year once again rocked the nation, bringing to forth the prevailing societal-ill on campuses.

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