Mumbai: The National Commission of Scheduled Tribes (NCST) has issued a notice Ministry of Education and IIT Bombay in response to a complaint filed by the Ambedkar Periyar Phule Study Circle(APPSC) at IIT-B. The APPSC, in June, had issued a complaint to several authorities, one of which was the NCST, asking it to look into the inadequate mental health support system present for students belonging to scheduled castes and scheduled tribes at the IIT.
The complaint was filed after the head counselor of the student wellness center at IIT Bombay was accused of carrying anti-reservationist sentiments based on her social media posts. "The students do not feel safe or comfortable going to talk about their mental health issues to such a person who is sharing their casteist views against a constitutional provision for representation of underrepresented communities (sic),” stated the email filed by the APPSC.
After receiving the complaint, the National Commission of Scheduled Tribes decided to look into the matter under section 338A of the Indian Constitution and asked the Ministry of Education to submit information on the actions taken against these allegations within 15 days of the notice being issued. If the ministry fails to do so, the commission may exercise civil court jurisdiction and summon a representative, wrote NCST in the notice.
“Subtle casteism is channeled from both, administration to students and students to students. After filing an RTI we realised that 90% of our professors and 70% of our Ph.D. scholars belong to the upper castes. The professors state that this has been done due to a lack of meritorious applications from the reserved castes,” said an APPSC student member at IIT Bombay.
Disagreeing with the narrative, a faculty member from the Electrical Engineering Department commented, “The IIT has enough forums, these should proactively reach out to the students who need help. We also have meetings with the students on a department level to check up on them. No institution is perfect, but we are always willing to listen.”
When asked, IITB spokesperson said it will first reply to NCST when the institute receives the letter.