By UGC norms, expulsion is discrimination

The UGC headquarters at Bahadurshah Zafar Marg in New Delhi. File photo

The UGC headquarters at Bahadurshah Zafar Marg in New Delhi. File photo  

Four years ago, the University Grants Commission (UGC) officially acknowledged what was always known: discrimination along caste lines was a fact of college life. And the admission made its way to the UGC (Promotion of Equity in Higher Educational Institutions) Regulations, 2012, drafted at an emergency meeting of officials called after the suicide of a medical student in the capital and a research student who was denied a guide.

The expulsion of students belonging to the Ambedkar Students Association by the Executive Council of the University of Hyderabad, leading to the suicide of Rohith Vemula, would have qualified as discrimination under the regulations notified on January 19, 2013. But they remained only on paper, leading many activists and intellectuals to believe that they should have been made into a law.

The notification deals with specific acts of discrimination on the basis of caste, creed, religion, language, ethnicity, gender, and disability. It defines harassment as unwanted conduct which is persistent and demeans, humiliates or creates a hostile and intimidating environment or is calculated to induce submission through actual or threatened adverse consequences.

Interestingly, the memorandum submitted by the striking students, is framed in the context of discrimination along caste lines and states as subject matter: “Expulsion of five Scheduled Caste Ph.D. research scholars from their hostel room on flimsy, concocted allegations made by a disgruntled non-SC/ST student.”

At variance was Union HRD Minister Smriti Irani’s statement at a press conference that repeatedly sought to downplay the caste angle in the death of Rohith Vemula.

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Printable version | Apr 2, 2020 8:56:41 PM |

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