ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Students Fight Discrimination

Statement from the University of Hyderabad Students' Union

The students of the University of Hyderabad have passed a resolution unanimously at their Students' Union's general body meeting on 12 April 2016 demanding a Committee Against Prejudice and Discrimination on campus. This committee is seen as a way to institutionalise their struggle against prejudice and discrimination, which saw an intensification in the past few months. This proposed CAPD will comprise all sections of the university community and will focus on redressing complaints of prejudicial treatment and discrimination within campus. Modelled on the anti-sexual harrassment committee, it is also expected to create awareness about overt and covert forms of discrimination and prejudice.

We, the Students’ Union of University of Hyderabad, believe that Rohith Vemula’s decision to take his own life is a symptom of a larger problem that plagues institutions of higher education in India. The University of Hyderabad (UoH), considered a premier institution of India, has not taken adequate steps to support and protect students from socially underprivileged castes, even after students have raised grievances repeatedly, and some had even taken their own lives in despair! 

 To address caste-based, and other forms of discrimination in higher educational institutions, the institutions must accept that discrimination on the basis of caste and other identities, in overt and covert ways, is a reality on our campuses. The Students’ Union of UoH would like to suggest an institutional mechanisms that shall ensure that these deep-seated social practices are addressed head-on. 

  • We demand that each higher educational institution establish a “Committee Against Prejudice and Discrimination” (CAPD). It must be in keeping with Article 15 and Article 21 of the Constitution of India, which together protect citizens from discrimination by the state or fellow citizens on the grounds of religion, race, caste, sex or place of birth, and ensures the right to live with human dignity. The main focus of the CAPD must be to look into complaints regarding acts of prejudice and/or discrimination against Scheduled Castes (SCs), Scheduled Tribes (STs), Other Backward Classes (OBCs), religious minorities, sexual minorities, women, transgenders, racial, and ethnic minorities. The CAPD must be structured on the lines of the Gender Sensitisation Committee Against Sexual Harassment (GS-CASH). The CAPD must be widely representative (women, OBCs, religious, sexual, racial, and ethnic minorities, etc), while ensuring that at least half the committee comprises SC and ST members and it is headed by a person from SC/ST background. Student representatives must be part of the committee. 
  • Higher educational institutions must collectively constitute a high-level committee to formulate rules for the CAPD immediately. And the committee must be given a clear briefing, and a deadline to submit its report. 
  • A course should be introduce for all students in universities and colleges to increase their knowledge and understanding  about the problem of caste ,ethnicity ,gender  and other issues .This course should be compulsory. Many countries such as USA, Scotland and UK have introduced courses on “civic learning” or “Citizenship Education” for students.
  • A Module and administrative guidelines should be prepared to sensitize administers and teachers in universities and colleges.
  • Reform the present Remedial Coaching schemes of UGC to make it effective with increased funding.
  • An Ombudsman must be appointed for each university for redressal of grievances of students as per the University Grants Commission (Grievance Redressal) Regulations, 2012.

We believe that this will help the campus communities and institutions address issues of prejudice and discrimination, which otherwise have no dedicated forum to redress these kinds of grievances. It is, we hope, understood that creating awareness about prejudiced practices, and acts of discrimination will be one of the main roles of the CAPD. This is the only way that a dialogue about prejudice and discrimination can be brought about in our educational institutions.

We hope that the heads of the higher educational institutions will act immediately on our proposal, and help build prejudice- and discrimination-free campuses and institutions.  

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