State plans ‘casteless’ hostels for students

Social Welfare Minister Priyank Kharge submitted a concept note, or white paper, to Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy on this, proposing setting up these general hostels in every taluk. DH File Photo

In an apparent social engineering exercise, Karnataka is looking to set up hostels across the state where students of all castes — SC, ST, OBC and general merit — can stay together.

Social Welfare Minister Priyank Kharge submitted a concept note, or white paper, to Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy on this, proposing setting up these general hostels in every taluk.

The idea was initially mooted in July this year when, during a day-long meeting, it was pointed out by Deputy Chief Minister G Parameshwara that existing student hostels were divided along caste lines.

This project of creating general hostels where students across castes and communities can stay is intended to counter the long-held notion that the government itself promoted casteism through separate hostels for students belonging to different social groups.

“Minority students are in one place, SC/ST students in another place. It’s like the government itself is sowing the seeds of casteism,” Kharge told DH. “But currently, the Social Welfare department hostels have 25% reservation for backward class students. Likewise, the Backward Class Welfare department hostels have 25% reservation for SC/ST students so that people blend.”

Kharge has suggested setting up hostels that can accommodate 250-300 students. “I have suggested that the departments of Social Welfare, Backward Classes Welfare, Minority Welfare and Education pitch in 25% each,” he said.

Sociologist Chandan Gowda of the Azim Premji University welcomed the move in spirit. “While calling it social engineering may seem interventionist of an undesirable kind, this could be another step toward removal of cultural or social exclusion,” he said.

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State plans ‘casteless’ hostels for students

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