Discrimination in the IITs is something to write about

Source– The post is based on the article “Discrimination in the IITs is something to write about” published in “The Hindu” on 22nd March 2023. 

Syllabus: GS1- Social empowerment. GS2- Polity 

Relevance– Issues related to social justice 

News– Recently an undergraduate student of chemical engineering at the IIT Bombay, committed suicide. 

What is discrimination? 

Discrimination is not necessarily hurling abuse at somebody. It is a layered and continuous process that happens every day. It steadily creates an atmosphere of “us” and “them” 

Why discussion on discrimination at the IITs needs to be a discussion on merit? 

The political philosopher, Michael Sandel, provides criticism of meritocracy. He calls it a societal ideal. He argues that arrogance among the elites of their capabilities and politics of humiliation are natural outcomes of meritocracy.  

Some sections of the IITs are also suffering from meritocratic arrogance. This happens, when elite class tend to “look down on those who do not rise”. 

Such an approach undermines social recognition and esteem for those who lack the credentials that are rewarded by the system to the upper class.  

How is the principle of equal opportunity not sufficient for social well-being? 

It is only a corrective measure of historical injustice. It is not a sufficient principle to foster an equitable society. 

Social well-being depends upon cohesion and solidarity. Individual happiness does not only require the freedom to rise to new positions of comfort and distinction. It also requires that they should be able to lead a life of dignity and culture. 

What is the way forward to end discrimination at IITs? 

IITs should reflect on the blind spots of biases. Faculty at the IITs need to re-imaginate classrooms as spaces free of meritocratic or discriminatory judgements 

Building empathy and fostering a culture of equality, dignity, and fraternity cannot happen through short orientation programmes. These should be built into the curriculum at the IITs. It should become the DNA of campus life. 

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