ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Caste Discrimination in Higher Education

The Future Agenda

The death of Rohith Vemula once again triggered an intense debate on the prevalence of caste discrimination in higher education. Addressing the situation from a legal perspective, the shortcomings of the existing legal norms on caste discrimination become apparent, especially when compared with the regulations on ragging. Effective measures to overcome caste discrimination in higher education are then the need of the hour.

The death of research scholar Rohith Vemula triggered an intense debate on caste discrimination and a demand was raised to enact the Rohith Act in order to overcome rampant caste discrimination in educational institutions. This demand draws a parallel link with the Nirbhaya rape case of 2012. In terms of similarities, both Nirbhaya and Rohith were enthusiastic, young and passed away at an early age. Both succumbed to social forces. However, the dissimilarity was associated with the nature of social forces that caused their deaths. For Nirbhaya, it was her gender and patriarchal forces that victimised her and in the case of Rohith, it was caste discrimination that abetted him to commit suicide.

Another peculiar difference was the role of the government. In the case of Nirbhaya: after massive protests, the government actively worked to address the issue of gender discrimination. It immediately constituted the Justice Verma Committee to suggest necessary changes in criminal laws for effective and speedy trials and justice in cases of sexual offences against women. The committee submitted its report in 30 days and the Criminal (Amendment) Law, 2013 was passed in less than four months of the incident. A stringent approach was adopted. Reforms were introduced in criminal procedural law, evidence law and the Indian Penal Code (IPC). On the contrary, in the Rohith case, although similar massive protests were witnessed not only in India but also abroad, the government neither constituted a judicial committee nor detained any culprits. In reality, caste has wider social and economic implications. As a result, the demand for Rohith Act necessitates due to the prevalence of caste discrimination in higher education (Thorat 2016)1 and to fulfil the constitutional commitment enshrined under Article 46. The article states that

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Published On : 19th Jul, 2018

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