Nikhila Henry, TNN | Mar 29, 2013,
Raju’s story is not an isolated case, it is in fact indicative of a bigger failure of universities in communicating certain matters of relevance to the students who are already reeling under caste discrimination, either real or perceived.
Among the nine suicides from university campuses in the past one year, seven belonged to SC/ST/OBC communities, and one to a minority community.
In another case, Senthil Kumar, a dalit PhD scholar of the School of Physics, UoH, had committed suicide in 2008 as he was not told that he was eligible for scholarship in the coming semester, despite clearing his course work examinations, a senior faculty member of the university said.
Academics said the trend indicates incapability of institutions to understand the pressing problems of students with poor socio-economic background.
Ignored by school, college and university managements, students coming from less privileged backgrounds are at a higher risk of committing suicide in hostile or unreceptive academic set-ups, assert counsellors and human rights groups.
A fact-finding report submitted as part of an internal investigation after the suicide of Senthil Kumar found that “most students affected by the inconsistencies and ambiguities in procedures (academic and administrative) were SC/ST students, leading to the building up of a perception of discrimination among students belonging to these communities.”
The report goes on to recommend confidence-building measures and transparent procedures to integrate such students into the academic system, which is not in place now.
In a more recent study conducted by Insight Foundation, New Delhi, it was found that four from Hyderabad were in a list of 19 suicides committed by SC/ST students of various institutions in the country, owing to caste discrimination during the past five years.
Activists say that most campuses which earlier had majority of students from effluent backgrounds have an increasing number of students from poor socio-economic backgrounds.
“On one hand, the government has recognized the importance of supporting and nurturing groups that were hitherto excluded from educational opportunities through scholarship schemes for SC/ST students and for minorities. On the other hand, this is not matched by a corresponding overhauling of existing institutional cultures,” an article by faculty members of English and Foreign Languages University (EFLU), Asma Rasheed, K. Satyanarayana and Uma Bhrugubanda said.
- Seeking Solidarity for Justice for Mudasir Kamran #mustshare (kractivist.wordpress.com)
- On Suicides, Caste and Higher Education (fakhrah.wordpress.com)
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