Let's acknowledge it. Ragging has a nasty CASTE undertone

Ahead of Uttar Pradesh polls, netas continue to pile vote-banks citing their ‘heartfelt Dalit sentiments’. The epicenters of these discussions have been campus violence afflicted on the minority caste. Less than twenty-four hour back, OS Avinash, a Dalit student at Government Polytechnic’s Institute, Kottayam (Kerela) had to undergo four rounds of dialysis following inhuman ragging a fortnight back.

Avinash is a resident of Thrissur. His family runs on his father’s meager income. He stated difficulty in sustaining the medical expenses of his son. It has been reported that the police have arrested five of the nine accused. Similar instances reported in the last one year promotes the question: Were they victims of ragging or caste-based violence?

Cases of campus violence on Dalit students do not have spatial or merit barriers. Unfortunate occurrences have been reported from Bihar and the cradle of Dalit politics, Uttar Pradesh. Babasaheb Bhimrao Ambedkar University (BBAU) had expelled eight Dalit students charging them of assault on a professor. The students stated that they weren’t given a chance to defend themselves. Countering allegations, the students claim the professor tore his own clothes and filed a false police complaint. They also accused the professor of being biased towards their caste and inflicting violence on them along with a group of students. No action and interrogation had been undertaken to probe the professors, including two Brahmans. Among the accused was Shreytha Bodh, the topper of the PhD entrance exam for History. This October, the Internet was host to a viral video wherein a meritorious high-school Dalit student was assaulted.

Here are some more examples:

Dalit student in hospital, family alleges ragging

Kerala: Two students in hospital after ragging, accused on the run

Despite all the protectionism and the regular debates on the rights of minority groups, a definite end to them remains a myth. Assessment of atrocities has been made possible by media reports and student accounts and movements involving minimal initiative and co-operation the college administration. Had it not been the social media, these incidents wouldn’t have made news. So, are our educational establishments anti-Dalit?

No. Perhaps, because in a progressive world, we do not recognize the privileges based on our birth. Studying sciences and humanities in a national university classroom gives little scope for any kind of discrimination. The phenomenon takes shape outside the classroom when we are part of a greater social setting marked by hierarchy. Our greater interaction and social learning with the outside environment does get reflected in our stay in an educational setting. This is supported by protectionism and glorification by certain caste groups that become the subject of hostility for the other.

The Scheduled Castes and Scheduled tribes (Prevention of Atrocities Act) 2015’s implementation is being put to question repeatedly. Perhaps indicating that the hierarchical social setting is still prevalent but, for different reasons. Sympathies for a minority group points to an authorization from an empowered group. The need of the hour is an educational setting talking equality, fraternity, and liberty. The debate on ‘excess’ protectionism and the escalated talk needs to be addressed in two opposing ways. Despite all the exclusive reservations why is the representation rate seemingly inadequate in educational institutions? This points to wrong diagnosis undertaken by the planners. But then despite all the protectionism, prejudices still exist. Leaving these issues to be addressed only by our politicians wouldn’t do any good. For they, find ways to perpetuate this divide to thrive and revel in vote bank politics. For them winning elections is more important than implanting a welfare scheme and ending long-held prejudices.