The Indian Institute of Technology-Delhi suspended a survey on caste discrimination in campus hours after it was circulated on the campus, The Indian Express reported on Saturday. Several students said that the survey had insensitive and irrelevant questions.
In the wake of the death of two Scheduled Castes students in the last two months, the survey had been circulated by the Board of Student Publications, the officially recognised student publication of the institute.
Earlier this month, Anil Kumar, a student of B. Tech in the Mathematics and Computing Department died by suicide. Ayush Ashna of the same department had allegedly died by suicide in July.
The deaths had led to outrage from students at IIT-Delhi, who demanded an investigation into alleged incidents of caste discrimination and an inquiry against the Mathematics and Computing Department, according to The Hindu.
An unidentified student at the institute told The Indian Express that a question in the survey had asked students about the institute’s reservation policy. Among the options provided were the choice of whether they support its current form, should it be replaced with a new policy based on economic conditions, should reservations should be abolished, or if they preferred not to answer.
“Why would someone put the last option in the survey?” the student asked. “What is so problematic to speak about it [reservations] openly?”
Another question asked respondents to rate how often they witnessed a particular type of caste discrimination. It offered “never” as one of the choices and “so common that I don’t even bother” as another, reported The Hindu.
Pravin Ingole, an official at the institute’s SC/ST cell claimed that the survey did not go through official channels before distribution.
“The faculty member coordinating the BSP’s [Board of Student Publications] activities had advised student members of the board to consult the SC/ST cell, which they did not,” Ingole told The Indian Express. “There was a miscommunication and the survey was released. The survey was shut down as soon as we found out.”
A student head at the Board of Student Publications said that the survey had been circulated to understand the status of caste-based discrimination on campus.
“However, it has been temporarily withdrawn due to certain complaints from the institute’s SC/ST Cell,” the student said. “The matter has been resolved internally and BSP is currently engaging with the SC/ST cell to plan a new survey which will be released in the near future.”