UGC Mandates Report on Caste-Based Discrimination in Universities

Date:

Higher education institutions are directed to submit compliance by July 31.

Team Clarion

NEW DELHI – The University Grants Commission (UGC) has directed higher education institutions (HEIs) across the country to submit a detailed report on measures to prevent caste-based discrimination during the 2023-24 academic year. This report must be submitted via the University Activity Monitoring Portal (UAMP) by July 31.

The UGC has instructed HEIs to form committees including representatives from marginalised castes and women to ensure diversity and fair handling of complaints. The directive aims to address caste-based discrimination within university spaces comprehensively.

Upon inquiry, institutions such as the University of Delhi (DU), Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), and the University of Hyderabad (UoH) showed varying levels of compliance and implementation.

DU’s Dean of Students Welfare has conceded that no specific committee has been formed to tackle caste-based complaints. “If there is a harassment complaint, we deal with it accordingly, irrespective of the caste of the complainant,” he said.

However, DU Professor Dr. Nandita Narain, president of the Democratic Teachers’ Front, highlighted the lack of a dedicated committee for caste-based discrimination. “Although officials oversee general issues for various categories, there is no formal mechanism for handling caste-related complaints,” she said.

Dr. Narain also noted the late implementation of faculty reservations for SC/ST and OBC candidates at Delhi University.

The University of Hyderabad has a committee for handling caste-based discrimination, but it acts only on orders from the registrar. The university has been a centre of student protests against casteism, especially after the suicide of Dalit scholar Rohith Vemula in 2016, which highlighted systemic issues and led to nationwide protests.

JNU has an Equal Opportunity Cell that deals with caste-based discrimination complaints, managed by a chief advisor and two others. However, JNU Student Union General Secretary Priyanshi Arya mentioned that marginalised students face profiling and discrimination, particularly during admissions and evaluations. “Students from SC/ST backgrounds often receive significantly lower marks, which confines them to the reserved category or excludes them from the process altogether,” she said.

The UGC’s directive calls for dedicated committees to address caste-based discrimination complaints, ensuring representation from marginalised castes and women. Institutions must also create a webpage for SC/ST/OBC students to lodge complaints and maintain a physical complaint register in the registrar or principal’s office.

The directive emphasises the need for sensitivity training for faculty and officials to handle incidents of caste-based discrimination appropriately. Institutions are required to report the number of complaints received and actions taken regularly. The UGC mandates that these guidelines be widely circulated to ensure awareness and implementation across all affiliated colleges.

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