There is a widespread dissatisfaction on caste based reservation among almost all the sections in India. No matter if it is a job vacancy, a seat for higher education or even a place in the football team, the reservation system plays its role. Many activists have come up with protests, social media fights and speeches on this biased system of reservation. The majority opinion says the talented are rejected to give way for the undeserving. There is no man who has not thought the same about it at least once unless he is one who has benefitted from this system. A general category student has to score above 96 percentile to have a chance of receiving call letter from an IIT or IIM where a SC/ST student could sneak in with just 70 percentile or less. The other main factor for frustration is that they pay negligible fees when compared to a general category student. Thus, a student from SC/ST studying in elite institutions is considered ‘undeserving’ and ‘fee defaulters’.
The SC/ST students have a reservation quota of 22.5% but not more than half of the seats are occupied by them. 25% of those who join the course are obliged to drop out. Out of the 1273 seats reserved for them, 773 seats are lost every year due to both, unfilled seats during admission and the subsequent drop outs. This amounts to a massive 62% loss of seats per year to the students of these communities. Though the Government offers very low fees and advantage in competitive exams for these students, why are they not joining for higher education/ dropping out of college?
The death of Aniket Ambhore, an engineering student at IIT Bombay, under suspicious circumstances has brought forth the attention of the nation. Among the many things this elite institution hides under its banner, one shameful reason is ‘caste based discrimination’. Aniket's father has alleged that his son was used to be taunted for being a student from scheduled caste. The deep rooted prejudice towards the scheduled caste is evident in the nation’s best educational institutions as well. Aniket was reportedly under stress followed by psychiatric issues and was under treatment. He had backlogs from the first second and third year. The management blindly put forward a statement that could satisfy the appetite of many.
“The syllabus is too hard for average brains to catch up. The undeserving comes up with the loop hole of reservation and struggles in the academics, failing to catch up results in stress and psychiatric problems.”
This surely could be one reason but there can be other reasons as well. Major portion of the above mentioned community students have suppressed their concerns about the discriminating behavior towards them. A survey among first year students (2013-14 batch) belonging to various SC, ST and OBC categories, has revealed that an alarming 56% of them feel discriminated against in the institution. They say they are the ‘odd one out’ and it’s literally impossible to live at a place if he/she has a friend of the same community.
The schedule caste/ tribe students are mistreated even in the elite institutions. The number of reports and complaints about this caste based discrimination in our nation is shocking! Cases of discrimination have also been reported from other IITs, IISc and AIIMS. In 2008, 12 dalit students were terminated from IIT Delhi due to ‘poor academic performance’. After a long judicial fight, 11 of them were re-admitted to the institution. "At least 20 Dalit students from these institutions have committed suicide in the past seven years," said a PhD student in IIT Delhi.
35 students from Vardhman Medical College, Delhi, were repeatedly failing in one particular subject. After filing a lawsuit, National Schedule Caste Commission (NSCC) assigned Dr.Mungekar to deal with the case. After investigation, as his report puts it, the faculty of the said department ‘resorted to caste-based discrimination and neglected the duties assigned to them, not by omission but by commission’. The same Medical College in 2004-05 was in the headlines as 25 of its students continuously failed in a particular subject (Physiology). And yes, all the 25 students were from SC community. After the high court order, fresh examinations were conducted and 24 among them passed.
Lok Nayak Jaiprakash Narayan Hospital (LNJP) last year had similar cases where a SC student failed consecutively three years in a particular subject exactly by one mark. All those who had failed in the previous five years in the same subject were found to be from SC/ST communities.
In 2010 and 2011, two students from AIIMS, Delhi- Balmukund Bharti and Anil Meena- committed suicide. Both of them belonged to Scheduled castes and these suicides again raised question against the discrimination towards the ‘so-considered’ lower classes. The committee appointed to investigate on these suicides acknowledged that scheduled caste students did face discrimination and made some recommendations.
The hostels have become a nightmare for these students. No general category student is ready to share their room with an SC/ST student. In fact, certain hostels have their upper floors for SC/ST students and lower floors for general category students. Is it their fault to have born to SC/ST parents? Is it being ambitious if he/she wishes to learn in an IIT/AIIMS? Most of these students are toppers in their respective schools. Most of them come from a non-English medium school. Yes, it is difficult for them to catch up with the brains cultivated from an English speaking Kindergarten and through to the highly expensive school markets and then towards the billion dollar industry called ‘Coaching centers’. These elite institutions conduct an entrance exam which has to be considered one of the toughest in the world. Though the cut off for the SC/ST students are less, there is a huge population of general category students who fails to even qualify for the exam. It is high time we considered them ‘deserving’. If these things are happening at the best educational institutions in India, what is then education all about?
Wouldn’t it be apt if we speak up against the ‘caste based discrimination’ before complaining about the ‘caste based reservation’? Act.