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New Delhi: PhD scholars from IIT Delhi have started an online petition demanding the setting up of permanent SC, ST, and OBC committees in IITs across the country.

The petition on Change.org — the online petition portal that allows internet users to mobilise around different causes — was addressed to Ramesh Pokhriyal, who was the education minister before Wednesday’s cabinet reshuffle.

The petition lists nine demands that universities should meet to solve the grievances of members of the marginalised community. Around 27,500 students have signed the petition so far.

Students say the petition was started following recent events of discrimination against members of the SC/ST/OBC community.

It also comes days after Vipin P. Veetil, assistant professor of economics at IIT-Madras, resigned from his post alleging incidents of caste-based discrimination at the institution.

What the petition says

Some of the demands listed in the petition include setting up a joint committee for SC/ST/OBC grievance redressal, which should be headed by a Chief Liaison Officer from the SC/ST/OBC community. The petition also says the names and numbers of the members should be published on the university website, caste sensitisation workshops should be conducted on college campuses, and there should be a strict procedure and timeline for resolving complaints. In addition, the petition says, the committee should ensure the institutes follow reservation policy for hiring faculty.

A PhD scholar from IIT Delhi said, “There are so many small isolated incidents that keep happening at IITs which reflect poor sensitivity of professors and students towards the marginalised community. Despite having commissions these people are underrepresented and their complaints often go unheard. They are treated poorly leading to incidents like that of professor Vipin Veetil. It is time that the SC/ST/OBC members of our institutes are given a voice and a safe space where they are heard by peers who sympathise.”

Another PhD scholar from IIT Madras, who did not wish to be named, said: “Little or inadequate effort has been taken by the administration to provide sustainable solutions to the problem of disparity in academic outcomes between students from the general category and SC/ST groups. Specific cells or committees for their welfare are non-existent and support systems are almost absent. The solution to the forms of caste discrimination in IIT lies in the urgent addressing of lack of social representation and immediate formation of permanent support system and grievance committees for the students and faculties and non-teaching staffs from SC/ST and OBC sections in IITs.”

Also read: IITs, NITs, IISc tell Modi govt to extend PhD scholars’ stipend for another year due to Covid


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