IIT Campus Notice That Said “Veg Only” Caused Online Outrage!!

Written by keerthiga Published on Jul 31, 2023 | 07:36 AM IST | 176

IIT Campus Notice That Said "Veg Only" Caused Online Outrage

Allegations of discrimination have cast a dark shadow over the prestigious Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Bombay, as reports of food-based segregation come to light. The campus, known for its academic brilliance and diverse student body, is now facing scrutiny over alleged practices of separating students based on their food choices, causing discomfort and humiliation among its community members. This article delves into the recent controversy surrounding the division of seating areas and mess facilities, uncovering deeper issues of caste-based discrimination and intolerance.

IIT Bombay has become the new battleground for students who wish to eat vegetarian and non-vegetarian food on the campus.
IIT Bombay has become the new battleground for students who wish to eat vegetarian and non-vegetarian food on the campus.

The Ambedkar Periyar Phule Study Circle (APPSC), an informal students’ collective at IIT Bombay, was among the first to raise concerns about vegetarian students being granted access to exclusive seating areas, while non-vegetarians were reportedly not permitted to occupy the same space. Posters in the canteen declaring this restriction sparked outrage among certain students who took to Twitter to express their discontent. It is important to note that there is no official institute policy supporting such food segregation, making these actions the result of individual initiatives.

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However, the issue goes far beyond mere seating arrangements. A Ph.D. student and member of APPSC revealed that the segregation is deeply ingrained within the campus. Separate plates and stoves for vegetarians and non-vegetarians in the kitchen point to a long-standing practice of division. Moreover, fines as high as Rs 50,000 have been levied on students who fail to comply with these rules, indicating a rigid enforcement of these discriminatory practices.

IIT Bombay
IIT Bombay

The imposition of a fine of Rs 400 on a few students in Hostel 8 in 2017 for not adhering to the seating arrangement serves as a glaring example of how the discriminatory norms have persisted over time. Additionally, a recent incident in Hostel 10 witnessed a fine of Rs 50,000 on a caterer for cooking vegetarian food on a stove designated for non-vegetarian meals. These occurrences underscore the seriousness of the issue and the need for immediate action.

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The APPSC filed an RTI query in November of the previous year to inquire about the presence of Jain food spaces in mess facilities where non-vegetarian students are not allowed to consume egg or meat products. However, the response revealed that no separate space for Jain food exists in any IIT Bombay hostel. Despite this, the APPSC received reports of individuals forcefully designating certain areas in messes as ‘Jain sitting space’ and expelling non-vegetarian students from those areas.

IIT Bombay
IIT Bombay

In the midst of these accusations, the IIT Bombay administration has remained silent on the matter. Several attempts to contact Dean of Student Affairs, Suryanarayana Doolla, for a response have gone unanswered. This silence from the administration has further fueled discontent and raised questions about the institute’s commitment to fostering an inclusive and tolerant campus environment.

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The recent revelations of food-based segregation at IIT Bombay have shed light on an uncomfortable truth that plagues the campus. The practice of separating students based on their food choices not only violates the principles of equality and respect but also perpetuates caste-based discrimination. Addressing this issue requires the institute’s active involvement in implementing policies that promote inclusivity, mutual respect, and acceptance of diverse cultures and food choices.

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As a premier educational institution, IIT Bombay must take a stand against such discriminatory practices and take concrete steps to dismantle these divisive norms. Engaging in open dialogue with student bodies, revising mess policies, and sensitizing the campus community about the value of diversity are essential to foster a harmonious and inclusive environment for all students. Only through collective efforts and a commitment to change can IIT Bombay uphold its reputation as an institute of excellence while also being a beacon of equality and acceptance.

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