IIT prof alleges irregularity in caste bias probe

Published on Aug 28, 2021 12:10 AM IST

In the letter, Vipin P Veetil, a 36-year-old assistant professor of economics who resigned citing caste bias in July, said that the head of the department – who was named in his complaint -- was allegedly liaising with members of the investigation committee looking into his claims of caste-based discrimination at the institution.

An assistant professor at the Indian Institute of Technology-Madras alleged caste discrimination at the institution. (PTI)
An assistant professor at the Indian Institute of Technology-Madras alleged caste discrimination at the institution. (PTI)
By, New Delhi

An assistant professor at the Indian Institute of Technology-Madras, who alleged caste discrimination at the institution, claimed irregularities in the investigation process in an open letter to Union education minister Dharmendra Pradhan on Friday.

In the letter, Vipin P Veetil, a 36-year-old assistant professor of economics who resigned citing caste bias in July, said that the head of the department – who was named in his complaint -- was allegedly liaising with members of the investigation committee looking into his claims of caste-based discrimination at the institution.

Veetil said that he sent two letters to the institute asking Jyotirmaya Tripathy, the head of the department of humanities and social sciences, to temporarily step down from his position while the investigation is on but didn’t receive a response.

Veetil said the situation sent a “wrong signal” to members of the department and might inhibit other faculty members from speaking out.

“These features are merely the superficial manifestations of a far deeper rot: the subjugation of truth, justice, and scholarship by caste. A subjugation which is maintained with administrative structures that reproduce themselves,” Veetil wrote, calling for affirmative action within the board of governors and heads of department.

Veetil joined the department of humanities and social sciences in March 2019 but resigned on July 1, saying in his resignation letter that he was moving to another institution due to caste bias at IIT-Madras.

On August 13, he approached the National Commission for Backward Classes in Delhi and complained that he was denied opportunities due to his caste. Veetil belongs to the other backward class community.

“I wrote the open letter because I wanted the minister to know what was going on. The basic principles of natural justice demand that a person accused in the complaint should step down from positions of power during the length of the probe,” he said.

In response, IIT-Madras said it did not permit discrimination of any kind, including religion or caste and that there are grievance redressal mechanisms in place for students as well as employees, and the process is initiated promptly when a complaint is received.

“Students are familiarised with this during their orientation programme. Faculty join in ones and twos, they meet the dean, director and head of department and are provided documentation on the processes followed in the institute,” the institute said in a statement.

“In this instant case too, as soon as a complaint was received, a committee has been constituted to look into it. The committee members, as always, do not include anyone connected with the complainant or the department/individuals against whom the grievance is lodged. The committee is enquiring into the matter and is expected to submit its report shortly,” the statement added.

Tripathy couldn’t be reached for a comment.

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    Dhrubo works as an edit resource and writes at the intersection of caste, gender, sexuality and politics. Formerly trained in Physics, abandoned a study of the stars for the glitter of journalism. Fish out of digital water.

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