India is slowly heading towards becoming an educational hub. Many aspirants around the country aim to get admission in the creme de la creme of colleges that provide the best opportunities.
However, their circumstances make it difficult. Our country's deeply entrenched caste system is unfortunate in denying students excellent opportunities in such institutions. Not only that, several face communal and regional discrimination that wreak havoc on their studies.
Recently, a student at IIT Bombay took his own life as he went through mental turmoil. The incident raises many uncomfortable questions about the harassment students to face in premier Indian colleges.
In light of this, a PhD holder named Dr Sachida Nand Pandey has been protesting in front of the Ministry of Education in New Delhi, demanding some answers and stringent actions against such treatment meted to students in IITs across the country.
Demanding Transparency In Faculty Recruitment
Since the last week, Dr Pandey has been standing in front of the Ministry, with a placard saying 'Stop Mental Torture, Stop Harassment'. He filed a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) to the Supreme Court, where he asked for reservations in IIT faculty placement and to stop mental harassment a student goes through.
He claims no transparency in the institute's faculty hiring process. "If anyone applies to teach at IIT, they should have a PhD degree. They are needed for several research projects, sometimes urgently. However, many have been hired for useless reasons that leave out those who truly deserve the position," Pandey tells The Logical Indian.
According to him, the IITs across the country have recruited less than 10% of people from reserved categories for the faculty position, which is lesser than the mandated percentage. "The IIT Council tells us that they have recruited a certain number of people to maintain quality. However, the council reveals over 50% of non-performing faculty. They would not have had this problem if they had taken in skilled people for the positions," Dr Pandey explains.
Discrimination And Mental Harassment
Another important aspect of his agitation is discrimination and harassment. Students do not have it as caste, regional and religious discrimination occurs in these institutes. "A North Indian harasses a South Indian, and vice-versa, this goes both ways. Ultimately, a student is in the middle of all this. All they want is a capable professor to teach them; their religion, caste or region does not matter," Dr Pandey adds.
Apart from this, many students are suffering from mental health problems. Pandey says, "Many people in IIT campuses are struggling with issues like anxiety and depression. It is a stressful and toxic environment. If a student does excellent research, the professors will take all the credit, and if it is the opposite, you will not be employed anywhere. In such circumstances, a young aspirant will always be scared."
An alumnus from IIT Bombay and Madras, Pandey has also suffered his share of discrimination. He alleged that his name was removed from his projects, and his fellowship was terminated for a year.
Why Is Supreme Court And Education Ministry Silent?
Dr Sachida Nand Pandey has been protesting in front of the Education Ministry building since January 7. He filed the PIL to the Supreme Court last year but has not received an answer yet. "I took all of these up to the apex court. While they accepted my plea for recruitment transparency, they have not responded to the discrimination bit," he said.
Not just Dr Pandey, everybody wonders why are the Supreme Court and the Education Ministry silent on such grave matters. The IIT and other premier institutes have steadily increased student suicide cases. Not only that, over 7000 students and scholars have dropped out in the last five years. Therefore, the protest goes on with more enthusiasm. Dr Sachida Nand Pandey's agitation will go on until he receives concrete answers from the authorities in the form of stern action taken against rampant discrimination and harassment.