2 years of caste discrimination: Assistant Professor quits IIT Madras

Another case of casteism has now come to light from one of India’s premier institutes, IIT. Vipin Pudiyath Veetil, an assistant professor in Indian Institute of Technology-Madras resigned alleging caste discrimination.

In his mail to other faculty members, Vipin who teaches in the Department of Humanities and Social Sciences, alleged that he had been discriminated against because of his caste ever since he joined the institute in 2019.

“The discrimination came from individuals in positions of power irrespective of their claimed political affiliations and gender,” read the letter by Vipin who hails from an OBC community in Kerala.

Vipin also said he was leaving the IIT for another institution because of this, and he would “pursue appropriate actions to address the matter.”

The letter also alleges rampant caste discrimination at the institute. “One of the curious phenomena I’ve observed at the institute is that the Bayesian prior among many is that caste discrimination is rare occurence. My own experience and conversations with members of SC and OBC communities, suggests that the Bayesian prior is far from true,” wrote Vipin.

He has also suggested that the IIT sets up a committee to study the experience of the SC and OBC faculty members. According to the young scholar, such a committee should also have members from the SC/ ST Commission, OBC Commission and psychologists. 

Responding to the news, ChintaBAR, an organisation of students on the campus alleged that the IITs have been in the news recently for caste discrimination against students and persistent violation of reservation norms in admission to Ph.D. programmes.

“ChintaBAR has been demanding the setting up of functioning SC, ST and OBC cells in the institute and for expanding the scope of the grievance redressal mechanism established at department level to address issues of discrimination, harassment etc. We have also been demanding proper implementation of reservation norms in admissions of research scholars and faculty recruitment as stipulated by Central Education Institutions Acts 2006 and 2019,” read a statement by the students body.

The instance has eerie callbacks to the institutional murder of a student Fathima Lateef at the institute in 2019. Fathima in her purported suicide note had alleged Islamophobia by the faculty and management. 

According to the IIT Madras website, Vipin, a post-doctoral faculty member in the Department of Economics, completed his schooling in China and bachelor’s in economics at Hindu College, Delhi University. He has spent time in institutions in Europe and then earned his Ph.D. at George Mason University in the U.S. Vipin has published several papers in peer-reviewed journals, and three are awaiting release. In 2020, he co-authored an analysis of the economic cost of the COVID-19 lockdown across the world.