Racism in colleges to become punishable offence

Racism in colleges to become punishable offence

Those found guilty of such malpractice will be fined

Discrimination against students on grounds of caste, religion or gender in higher educational institutions could become a punishable offence, if the Human Resource Development (HRD) Ministry has its way.

The HRD ministry has decided to amend the National Accreditation Regulatory Authority bill.

In view of complaints about students becoming victim of such practices in many institutions, the Ministry is bringing amendments to its Prohibition of Unfair Practices in Technical, Medical Educational Institutions and Universities Bill, 2010 that will recognise discrimination on the basis of caste, religion or gender as malpractice.

Such malpractice will be made punishable with imposition of fine on the person indulging in it but what will be the extent of punishment is yet to be finalised, sources in the HRD Ministry told Deccan Herald.

Further, to ensure that the institutions keep such bias against students in check, the Ministry has also decided to bring amendments in its National Accreditation Regulatory Authority bill.

The proposed law, which seeks to make accreditation of higher educational institutions mandatory to maintain academic quality, will contain a provision wherein the national authority will have powers to see the approach of the institution “in matters of equity and inclusion” before giving an accreditation, sources said.

The decision to bring amendments in the two proposed legislation was taken by the HRD Ministry after it received complaints about caste discrimination prevalent in many higher education institutions which has led some students to even take extreme steps like suicide.

Recently, a forum of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes parliamentarians also made an appeal to the HRD Minister Kapil Sibal. After the amendments in the Bill, it will be sent to the Union Cabinet for clearance.

Any record

Although, University Grants Commission (UGC) does not maintain any record of suicides committed by Dalit students in the higher educational institutions, there has reportedly been at least 19 such incidents in the last four years.

The latest incident being of a tribal student Anil Kumar Meena (22) at All India Institute of Medical Sciences who committed suicide on March 3. Students alleged that he was not able to follow lectures in English and teachers too, weren’t helpful to him.

Earlier one Manish Kumar, a second year engineering student at IIT Roorkee ended his life by jumping off the fifth floor of his hostel on February 6. Kumar’s parents alleged that he was hurt by castist remarks  made by some of his seniors.

In a circular to 578 higher educational institutions, the Commission had stated that it was necessary for senior officers or faculty members including liaison officers of the educational institutes to keep a close watch “to ensure that such incidents do not occur at all”. This came after various organisations and individuals recently sought the Commission to intervene, alleging prevalence of caste biasness in higher educational institutions that led many Dalit students to commit suicide.