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Challenging Caste Discrimination in IITs: Insights & Action.



  Oct 09, 2023

Casteism



Facts and Perspective on Caste Discrimination in IITs

Survey Findings

75% of SC/ST/OBC students negatively affected by casteist comments.

59% of general category students either agree with or are neutral to casteist remarks.

41% of respondents across categories reported casteist remarks on campus.

11% knew of professors/administrative staff making casteist comments.

53% of SC and ST students felt intentional casteist comments are passed on campus.

33% of general category respondents found certain casteist comments acceptable.

Perspective

Normalization of Discrimination: The fact that a significant percentage of general category students either agree with or are neutral to casteist remarks indicates the normalization of caste-based discrimination within educational settings.

Power Dynamics: The survey reveals an imbalance of power and privilege, where marginalized communities continue to face systemic discrimination, not just from peers but also from faculty and administrative staff.

Social Conditioning: The acceptance of casteist comments by a section of general category students reflects how social conditioning can perpetuate discriminatory attitudes.

Institutional Inaction: Despite survey findings, the lack of concrete action from the institution raises questions about the commitment to diversity and inclusion.

Intersectionality: The issue is not just about caste but intersects with other social categories like education and economic status, creating a complex web of discrimination.

Cognitive Dissonance: The survey indicates a mismatch between categories on what counts as casteist, suggesting that different social groups have different levels of awareness and sensitivity towards the issue.

Silent Complicity: A portion of general category students who don't like casteist remarks choose to remain silent, contributing to the perpetuation of a discriminatory culture.

Meritocracy Myth: The belief that reserved category students get "undue advantages" reflects the widespread but flawed notion of meritocracy, which often ignores the social and historical context of educational inequality.

Social Capital: The survey also indirectly highlights the role of social capital, where students from privileged backgrounds may have better access to resources and networks, further widening the gap.

Microaggressions: The survey sheds light on the prevalence of microaggressions, which may seem trivial but have a cumulative effect on the mental health of marginalized students.

Immediate Concerns

Two Dalit students died by suicide at IIT-D within months of each other.

Student organizations have called for an investigation into alleged caste discrimination.

The survey results are a wake-up call for educational institutions to actively address systemic discrimination and foster a more inclusive environment.


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