Days after The Hindu reported on internal surveys conducted by the Indian Institute of Technology-Bombay, which revealed widespread caste-discrimination and mental health issues faced by the SC and ST students, the institute in a statement on Tuesday said that the results of the survey were “although very useful qualitatively, are harder to interpret quantitatively”.
The institute called the surveys “informal” but added that its results were used by the SC/ST student cell to design a volunteer-based SC/ST student mentorship programme (rolled out partially), a caste sensitisation course (still under preparation) and help with scholarship filings, among others.
The institute’s statement said, “Since the surveys were voluntary and only a fraction of the students filled it, although the results are very useful qualitatively, they are harder to interpret quantitatively.”
According to the reports of the surveys accessed by The Hindu, 388 out of the around 2,000 SC/ST students on the campus responded to the survey, which is a sample size of nearly 20%.
It added, “While the SC/ST student cell took up several steps to address the issues identified in the surveys, which was the key purpose of conducting the surveys, the specific survey results were not shared earlier with the IIT senior administration.”
However, according to documents available with The Hindu, the Registrar was aware of the measures being taken on the basis of the survey results mentioned above and had intimated the Union Education Ministry about the same as far back as in November, 2022.
The Hindu had reported the results of the surveys weeks after an 18-year-old Dalit student, Darshan Solanki, allegedly died by suicide in the campus, following which his family have alleged that he was facing caste-discrimination.
‘Surveys were held before the death’
The institute claimed that since the surveys were taken months before Solanki’s batch started, they “provide no specific inputs on the experiences of the current first year batch”.
IIT-B had constituted a 12-member internal panel to investigate the death, which in its interim report ruled out caste-discrimination, despite recording statements from Solanki’s sister highlighting discrimination and a statement from his senior saying he was alienated by his roommate after he found out about his rank.
On Tuesday, the institute said, “IIT Bombay remains committed to ensuring that our students do not face any form of discrimination. It has already taken several steps, and will continue to take more steps in this direction.”
It added, “For specific issues related to the case of Mr. Darshan Solanki, we request everyone to wait for the SIT report and avoid unnecessary speculation.”