A Dalit scholar’s death and Brahmin dominance at India’s premier science institute

For last week’s Common Ground story, Nolina Minj visited Vidyasagar University in West Bengal’s Midnapore district. Thirty years ago, a trailblazing Adivasi scholar named Chuni Kotal had died by suicide while enrolled in a master’s programme at the university, and Minj sought to understand if and how the campus had changed in the intervening years.

This week’s story looks at the country’s premier scientific educational institution: the Indian Institute of Science in Bengaluru. In 2007, a PhD scholar named Ajay Sree Chandra died by suicide in the institute. Afterwards, his father in an interview alleged that his son had faced casteist discrimination on the campus, and that the environment itself had intimidated and stifled him.

Johanna Deeksha spoke to current students from marginalised communities to understand how they experienced the institution today. “Students from marginalised communities struggle to survive in most educational spaces, but when it comes to the field of science, the situation is miserable,” Deeksha said. “The students I spoke to repeatedly told me that they hesitated talking to the media because they feared repercussions from the institute. But they knew that it was important for the world outside to hear their stories.”

She added, “They wanted the rational world of science to remain so, and for them to have a fair chance of excelling in it.”

You can read the story here. To support more such in-depth and investigative journalism, do sign up to be a Scroll Member.

Ajay Krishnan
Senior Editor

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