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'Prejudice has extracted a terrible price': 131 academics express concern at Hyderabad suicide

Leading scholars from international institutions ask authorities to ensure that Dalit students are offered a nurturing environment.

The suicide of Dalit research scholar Rohith Vemula on Sunday has prompted 131 academics from around to world to express their concern about caste discrimination in Indian universities.

"This suicide is not an individual act," they said in a statement issued on Tuesday. "It is the failure of higher educational institutions in democratic India to meet their most basic obligation: to foster the intellectual and personal growth of India’s most vulnerable young people."

The signatories include French scholar Christophe Jaffrelot, Rupa Viswanath of the University of Göttingen in Germany and Ania Loomba of the the University of Pennsylvania in the US.

Here is the full text of their statement.

We of the global scholarly community make an urgent appeal that justice be done in the most recent case of caste discrimination in Indian higher education, that of the University of Hyderabad’s prejudicial suspension of five young Dalit men pursuing PhDs. It was ordered under political pressure, without even allowing the young men in question to speak in their own defense. It directly contravened an earlier decision made by the University administration itself, which had exonerated them of any charges of wrongdoing ‒ charges which had been trumped up by political rivals opposed to the activism of these young men.

This prejudice has now exacted a terrible price. One of the five, a scholar of great promise, Rohith Vemula, committed suicide on January 17. Unable to bear the despair of having his one chance at a future snatched from him, of his value being reduced, in his own eloquent parting words, to nothing but “a vote” and “an immediate identity,” he took his own life. As scholars we know that individual actions are never just that. This suicide is not an individual act. It is the failure of higher educational institutions in democratic India to meet their most basic obligation: to foster the intellectual and personal growth of India’s most vulnerable young people. Instead, Rohith now joins a long list of victims of prejudice at premier institutions in the country, where pervasive discrimination drives so many Dalit students to depression and suicide, when not simply forcing them to quietly drop out.

As international scholars of South Asia, we ask the authorities at the University of Hyderabad to immediately reinstate Mr. Vemula’s four peers, to provide support to his family, and to launch a police investigation into his passing. But that is not enough. The University of Hyderabad must ensure not only that justice be done now, but that further injustice be rigorously prevented. It is vital to the life of any academic institution to actively nurture students exactly like Rohith, whose contribution to civic life and healthy political debate made the university the place of learning and personal transformation it should be. Measures must be implemented to ensure that such students are supported and allowed to thrive when they enter what is all too often the hostile, casteist environment of higher education in India. A university where students turn away from life with the regularity they have at the University of Hyderabad requires urgent and massive rehauling.

The involvement of political leaders in buttressing caste discrimination in Indian universities, and the double standards applied by university administrations to anti-caste student activity, directly contribute to the negative reputation India is earning among scholars worldwide. We urge the University of Hyderabad to restore our confidence by living up to its obligation to end institutionalized discrimination, to educate all students in a climate of respect and empathy, and to resist political pressures to do otherwise. We are all watching.

1. Rupa Viswanath, Professor of Indian Religions, University of Göttingen, Germany

2. Joel Lee, Assistant Professor of Anthropology, Williams College, USA

3. Dwaipayan Sen, Assistant Professor of History, Amherst College, USA

4. Nathaniel Roberts, Research Fellow, Max Planck Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity, Germany

5. Gajendran Ayyathurai, Postdoctoral Researcher, University of Göttingen, Germany

6. David Mosse, Professor, SOAS University of London, UK

7. Karthikeyan Damodaran, PhD Scholar, University of Edinburgh

8. Hugo Gorringe, Senior Lecturer, University of Edinburgh

9. T. Dharmaraj, Visiting Professor, Centre for Modern Indian Studies, University of Göttingen

10. AniaLoomba, Professor, University of Pennsylvania, USA

11. LalitVachani, Research Fellow, Center for Modern Indian Studies, University of Göttingen, Germany

12. Srirupa Roy, Professor of State and Democracy, Center for Modern Indian Studies, University of Göttingen, Germany

13. Christophe Jaffrelot, Dr., CERI-Sciences Po/CNRS, Paris, France

14. SuvirKaul, A. M. Rosenthal Professor, University of Pennsylvania, USA

15. Frank J. Korom, Professor of Religion and Anthropology, Boston University, USA

16. John Harriss, Professor, Simon Fraser University, Canada

17. Dilip Menon, Professor and Director, Centre for Indian Studies, University of Witwatersrand, South Africa

18. Raka Ray, Professor of Sociology and South and Southeast Asian Studies, University of California, Berkeley, USA.

19. Jonathan Spencer, Regius Professor of South Asian Language, Culture and Society, University of Edinburgh, UK

20. Constantine Nakassis, Assistant Professor of Anthropology, University of Chicago, USA

21. Sankaran Krishna, Professor of Political Science, University of Hawaii-Manoa, USA

22. Chandra Mallampalli, Professor of History, Westmont College, USA

23. Timothy Lubin, Professor, Washington and Lee University, USA

24. Linda Hess, Senior Lecturer, Stanford University, USA

25. Auritro Majumder, Assistant Professor, University of Houston, USA

26. P. Bagavandoss, Professor, Department of Biological Sciences, Kent State University, USA.

27. Shirin Rai, Professor of Politics and International Studies, University of Warwick, UK.

28. Indira Arumugam, Assistant Professor of Sociology, National University of Singapore

29. Michele Friedner, Assistant Professor, Stony Brook University, New York, USA

30. Dibyesh Anand, Associate Professor, University of Westminster, UK

31. Ravinder Kaur, Associate Professor, University of Copenhagen, Denmark.

32. James Caron, Lecturer in Islamicate South Asia, SOAS, University of London, UK.

33. Francis Cody, Associate Professor of Anthropology, University of Toronto, Canada.

34. Christopher Taylor, Assistant Professor of English, University of Chicago, USA

35. Alpa Shah, Associate Professor (Reader) of Anthropology, London School of Economics and Political Science, UK

36. BishnupriyaGhosh, Professor of English, University of California, Santa Barbara

37. Gloria Goodwin Raheja, Professor of Anthropology, University of Minnesota, USA

38. Anjali Arondekar, Associate Professor of Feminist Studies, University of California, Santa Cruz, USA

39. Nosheen Ali, Habib University, Karachi

40. Vazira Zamindar, Associate Professor of History, Brown University, USA

41. Kavita Philip, Professor of History, University of California at Irvine, USA

42. Bhavani Raman, Associate Professor, University of Toronto, Canada

43. Subir Sinha, Development Studies, SOAS, London, UK.

44. Francesca Orsini, Professor, SOAS, London, UK.

45. Gilbert Achcar, Professor, SOAS, London, UK.

46. Nilanjan Sarkar, Deputy Director, South Asia Center, LSE, UK.

47. Jon Wilson, Senior Lecturer in History, King’s College, London, UK.

48. Peter van der Veer, Director and Professor at the Max Planck Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity, Göttingen, Germany.

49. Tam Ngo, Researcher, Max-Planck-Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity, Göttingen, Germany

50. Shakuntala Banaji, Lecturer, London School of Economics and Political Science, UK

51. Meena Dhanda, Reader in Philosophy and Cultural Politics, University of Wolverhampton, UK

52. Goldie Osuri, Associate Professor of Sociology, University of Warwick, UK.

53. Shana Sippy, Visiting Scholar, Carleton College, USA

54. Sarah Hodges, Associate Professor, University of Warwick, UK

55. Mukulika Banerjee, Associate Professor of Anthropology and Director, South Asia Centre, London School of Economics, UK

56. Paula Chakravartty, Associate Professor, MCC and Galatin, New York University, USA

57. Narendra Subramanian, Professor of Political Science, McGill University, Canada, and Visiting Senior Research Fellow, Max-Planck-Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity, Göttingen, Germany

58. Gurminder K Bhambra, Professor, University of Warwick

59. Rashmi Varma, Associate Professor, University of Warwick, UK

60. Uday Chandra, Assistant Professor of Government, Georgetown University, Qatar

61. Anupama Rao, Associate Professor of History, Barnard College, Columbia University, USA

62. Neena Mahadev, Postdoctoral Fellow, Max Planck Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity, Germany.

63. Nusrat S Chowdhury, Assistant Professor of Anthropology, Amherst College, USA

64. Kavin Paulraj, Lecturer, Saint Mary's College of California, USA

65. Asiya Alam, History Department, Louisiana State University, USA

66. Ananya Chakravarti, assistant professor of history, Georgetown University

67. Jesse Knutson, Assistant Professor of Sanskrit, University of Hawaii Manoa

68. Gopa lBalakrishnan, Professor, History of Consciousness, University of California Santa Cruz, USA

69. Gei rHeierstad, Research Director, Norwegian Institute for Urban and Regional Research, Norway

70. Kenneth Bo Nielsen, Coordinator, Norwegian Network for Asian Studies, Norway

71. Andrew Liu, Assistant Professor of History, Villanova University, USA

72. Toussaint Losier, Assistant Professor of Afro-American Studies, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, USA

73. Pinky Hota, Assistant Professor of Anthropology, Smith College, Northampton MA

74. Madhumita Lahiri, Assistant Professor of English, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, USA

75. Juned Shaikh, Assistant Professor, Department of History, University of California, Santa Cruz

76. Neilesh Bose, Canada Research Chair in Global and Comparative History University of Victoria

77. Lawrence Cohen, Professor and Director, Institute of South Asia Studies, University of California, Berkeley, USA

78. John Holmwood, Professor of Sociology, University of Nottingham, UK.

79. Balmurli Natrajan, Associate Professor, William Paterson University of New Jersey, USA.

80. Richard Alexander, Lecturer in Financial Law, SOAS University of London, UK.

81. Eleanor Newbigin, Senior Lecturer, SOAS, University of London

82. Chinnaiah Jangam, Assistant Professor of History, Carleton University, Canada.

83. Matthew J Nelson, Reader in Politics, SOAS, University of London.

84. Sîan Hawthorne, Lecturer in Critical Theory & the Study of Religions, SOAS, London, UK.

85. Amrita Shodhan, SOAS, University of London, UK.

86. Michael Hutt Professor and Director, SOAS South Asia Institute, University of London, UK

87. Jonathan Goodhand, Professor in Conflict and Development Studies, SOAS, University of London, UK

88. Nitasha Kaul, Author and academic, University of Westminster, London.

89. Deepankar Basu, Associate Professor, University of Massachusetts, Amherst

90. Somak Biswas, Doctoral Candidate, Department of History, University of Warwick, UK

91. Michael Levien, Assistant Professor of Sociology, Johns Hopkins University, USA

92. Nilisha Vashist, M.Phil/PhD student, University College London, UK

93. Rama Mantena, Associate Professor of History, University of Illinois at Chicago, USA

94. SohiniKar, Assistant Professor, London School of Economics and Political Science, UK

95. Dr. Jacob Copeman, Social Anthropology, University of Edinburgh.

96. Dr. Priyamvada Gopal, Cambridge University, UK.

97. Carole Spary, Assistant Professor, University of Nottingham, UK.

98. James Putzel, Professor of Development Studies, LSE, UK.

99. Romola Sanyal, Assistant Professor, London School of Economics and Political Science, UK

100. Dr Barnita Bagchi, Literary Studies, Utrecht University, Netherlands.

101. Dag Erik Berg, Postdoctoral Fellow, Center for Modern Indian Studies, University of Göttingen, Germany.

102. Dr Kalpana Wilson, London School of Economics, UK

103. Chetan Bhatt, Professor, Department of Sociology, London School of Economics and Political Science, UK

104. Rahul Rao, Senior Lecturer in Politics, SOAS, University of London, UK

105. Dr Alan Bullion, The Open University, UK

106. Katharine Adeney, Professor and Director of the Institute of Asia and Pacific Studies, University of Nottingham, UK

107. D. Mara Matta, Modern Literatures of the Indian Subcontinent, SAPIENZA Università di Roma, Italy

108. Pritam Singh, Professor of Economics, Oxford Brookes University, UK.

109. Dr. Sunil Kumar, Lecturer, London School of Economics, UK

110. Maitreesh Ghatak, Professor of Economics, London School of Economics and Political Science, UK

111. Richa Nagar, Professor, University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, USA

112. Mary Kaldor, Professor, London School of Economics and Political Science, UK

113. David Lewis, Professor of Social Policy, London School of Economics and Political Science, UK

114. Dr. Suthaharan Nadarajah, Lecturer, SOAS, University of London

115. Dr. Navtej Purewal, SOAS, University of London, UK

116. Shruti Sinha, Toulouse School of Economics, France.

117. Robert Cassen, Professor

118. Apurba Kundu, Deputy Dean, Anglia Ruskin University, UK.

119. Rachel McDermott, Associate Professor of Religion, Barnard College, Columbia University, USA.

120. Dr. Clarinda Still, Contemporary South Asian Studies Programme, University of Oxford, UK

121. Chad M. Bauman, Associate Professor of Religion, Butler University, USA.

122. Nandini Bhattacharya, Lecturer in History, University of Dundee, UK

123. Vijay Prashad, Professor, Trinity College, USA and Chief Editor, LeftWord Books.

124. Lucinda Ramberg, Assistant Professor, Cornell University, USA.

125. Pippa Virdee, Senior Lecturer in Modern South Asian History, De Montfort University, UK.

126. Andrew J. Nicholson, Associate Professor, State University of New York, Stony Brook

127. Dr. Teena Purohit, Department of Religion, Boston University.

128. Sahana Bajpaie, Instructor in Bengali, SOAS, University of London, UK.

129. M. V. Ramana, Physicist, Princeton University, USA

130 Shailaja Paik, Assistant Professor, University of Cincinnati, USA

131 Andrew Sartori, Professor of History, New York University, USA

We welcome your comments at letters@scroll.in.
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As corporate India changes from strait-jacketed to stylish, here’s how you can stay on-trend

For men and women, tips to make your office style game strong.

Office wear in India tends to be conservative. For men, the staple blue or white shirt and dark trouser arranged in a monotonous assembly line has been a permanent feature of the wardrobe (a tactic shrewdly administered to ensure minimum time is spent shopping). For women, androgynous work wear has been ever reliable and just as dull.

But camouflage is of no use in the corporate jungle anymore. The Indian office is no longer a place for dull, unthinking conformity, it is a place that expects vibrancy in thought and action. With a younger workforce and a greater mix of multinationals and jobs, there is a greater acceptance of edgier trends. Men are stepping away from their blues and greys and women are reshaping their workwear to be more interesting and distinctly feminine. As corporate India is proving its mettle on the global stage and to itself, it’s also growing confident in expressing individuality and style in the formal work environment. From clothing to office décor and fashion accessories to work tools, the workplace is becoming a place to display merit as well as taste.

Work clothes have shed their monochrome and moved into the light of technicolor. Bright colours have steadily become popular as Pantone’s annual colours of the year show us. For the corporate warrior who wants to be stylish here is our pick of trends worth considering.


Statement jacket. A statement jacket is one that doesn’t merely stand out in a crowd, but blows it open for you. How do you recognize one? You’ll know it when you see it. Most statement jackets have a non-traditional color. They could also have subtle prints on them if you want to go funky.

Technicolor socks. Multicolored socks (or hipster socks as they are known in some quarters) peek out every once in a while and brighten things up in the workplace. From polka dots and caricatures to geometric patterns, you can choose a pair to suit your mood or your workplace. A great way of telling people you don’t take fashion rules seriously (except these ones).

Plaid: Well played is well, plaid. Great for your 9-to-5 and even performs well after. Plaids, in shirts and jackets, are perhaps the most versatile tool in the corporate warrior’s armory, and straddle the fine line between formal and casual effectively. They’re also age-resistant meaning a young buck in his twenties can rock them as much as your seasoned forty-plus campaigner. Plaid, though Scottish in origin, has an Indian connection too, in the Madras checks that became popular all over the world after the World War.

Inside collars and cuffs. If you like to keep it classy but still a little edgy, nothing does it like contrast or printed insides of your collar and cuffs. After the work day, when it’s proper to roll up your sleeves, it even adds a touch of evening character.

Coloured Shoes. Alternate your staid blacks and browns with variants like burgundy, light buttery browns and ashen blues. Play with moccasins, tassel loafers and lace-ups. Go beyond leather and try suede and maybe even canvas. But do remember to take a quick course in matching.


Floral prints. Flowers are back (though one could argue that they never went out) and now they’re storming the bastion of your office. Even the traditional Indian paisley is making its way into formal wear. With the prevalence of digital printing, with a little hunting, you’ll even find beautiful florals in watercolour style.

Scarves. The first rule of wearing scarves is to rid yourself of the notion that they are to be worn only in winter. A colourful scarf paired with a monochrome top works wonders. A dozen online videos will teach you to wear it in a dozen ways. Plus, it always comes in handy when the thermostat isn’t to your liking. Kiran Mazumdar Shaw wears scarves frequently, and is a great example of how you can use it strikingly.

Pants. Yes. Pants. Experiment with different styles and you’ll be surprised how they can really spruce up a boring look. Silhouette is everything when it comes to pants. Choose from high-waisted, wide legged, pleated to ankle length pants and what not! The best part is offices rarely prescribe silhouettes, so you can always get by with some style even if your workplace demands a uniform.

Houndstooth. The houndstooth pattern is at the sweet intersection between casual and formal and can be worn to make a splash in either occasion. Whether its jackets or a dress or a simple top, a houndstooth pattern is incredibly versatile.

Chic suits. A sharp suit is a must for a modern professional’s wardrobe. And please don’t even look in the direction of black. Pastel colours or even greys with patterns are great options for suits. Uncoordinated suits are also a great option depending on how edgy you want your office attire to be.


It isn’t enough to be well-dressed in the modern workplace. A good professional is known by his or her tools and how they carry it.

Designer laptop sleeves. Your high-precision instrument deserves a cover chosen with as much care. Black Neoprene is out. Pastel monochromes, geometric patterns and bold designs are very much in. Different materials like cotton, leather and even paper are a great option.

Natural fiber or leather bags (yes kill your black synthetic one now). Briefcases are ancient and black messenger bags are done. Go for a color variant or a subtle pattern. Pay attention to the different leather finishes. Adding a few nicely done metal trims can make all the difference. But convenience and ease are top priority. If you travel a lot, get a stylish strolley and thank yourself later.

Commute pack. The urban corporate needs to be productive at all times, or at the very least, needs to be accessible. A modern commute pack should include wireless headphones, a USB battery pack (power bank) and a wire/gadget organisation pack just so that you’re always prepared.

Machine. We’ve all showed off our latest smartphones. Your work machine is way more important. And like in smartphones, a good laptop is no longer only about performance. The specifications must be top-notch but it has also become an expression of your personality. It can up your style quotient and significantly impact your experience.

Source: Dell
Source: Dell

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This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of Dell and not by the Scroll editorial team.

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