Mumbai IIT imposes fine on students over veg-only dining controversy; Controversy erupts 


The dispute revolves across the establishment’s choice to allocate separate tables for vegetarian students in its mess, resulting in the imposition of a fine on a pupil who protested in opposition to this coverage. In latest months, IIT Bombay has confronted antagonistic publicity as a result of unlucky incidents, together with pupil suicides. Now, the establishment faces scrutiny for its dining preparations. The controversy was ignited when a humanities pupil, Abhishek Mali, reportedly tried to reveal strict vegetarian students, primarily from the Jain neighborhood, to the sight and scent of meat dishes throughout dinner. As a consequence, IIT Mumbai fined Mali with Rs 10,000 for his actions.

In a latest improvement on the prestigious Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), controversy has erupted surrounding the allocation of dining house for vegetarian meals at Hostels 12, 13, and 14. These hostels primarily accommodate PhD students and share a typical mess space. Reports from main dailies, together with The Indian Express, Times of India, and Swarajya, shed mild on the continued dispute.

The subject initially got here to the forefront in 2020 throughout ideological confrontations associated to the Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB). Tensions resurfaced when a professor dined within the vegetarian part whereas consuming a meat dish, resulting in additional confrontations.

In July of this 12 months, the problem escalated when a pupil electronic mail recommended that opposition to consuming meat within the vegetarian part might end in disciplinary actions. A controversial poster emerged, stating “Vegetarians only are allowed to sit here,” igniting heated debates and accusations of meals discrimination.

Responding to the scenario, the IIT administration promptly eliminated the controversial poster and initiated discussions to allocate an unique space for vegetarian meals. Additionally, preparations have been made for students observing Paryushan, a Jain competition.

However, regardless of these measures, students reported cases of harassment, resembling leaving eggshells on vegetarian-only tables and smearing meals ladles on the Jain meals counter with meat. On September 27, the Mess Council formally designated six tables within the canteen for vegetarian meals, emphasizing that these tables have been accessible to any pupil selecting to eat vegetarian meals.

In a response that additional escalated tensions, Abhishek Mali and different students staged a protest by intentionally consuming meat at one of many designated vegetarian tables. As a outcome, Mali obtained a fine, and others concerned could face disciplinary motion.

The controversy has spurred discussions and debate amongst numerous alumni and anxious people, a few of whom are actually calling for the shutdown of the Humanities and Social Sciences departments because of the perceived pointless politicization of what many contemplate a trivial subject.

Suryakant Waghmore, Professor of Sociology at IIT Bombay, tweeted, “Bhartiya vegetarianism of purity and segregation is a social illness.. it needs to be cured, not institutionalized!”. Some of the college members termed the designated ‘veg-only’ house “disgraceful”, whereas one other professor has referred to as the segregation “social illness”.
Swati Goel Sharma of the Swarajya had shared an electronic mail wherein a pupil alleges that on 5 October 2023, a pupil after utilizing a spoon to take omelet used the exact same spoon to take meals from the Jain/Vegetarian counter. When questioned, the coed apparently gave a really impolite response and asserted that he would proceed along with his behaviour.

Academic Outcry and Agitations

The imposition of this fine has drawn robust reactions each inside and outdoors the IIT Bombay campus. Assistant Professor Anupam Guha from the Centre for Policy Studies at IIT Bombay took to social media to precise his disapproval of the fine, stating that lecturers who care about their establishments ought to resist such actions. Additionally, the Students’ wing of the Nationalist Congress Party’s (NCP) Sharad Pawar group has warned of an agitation in opposition to the authorities if the fine is just not withdrawn.

Food decisions at IIT Bombay, as with many instructional establishments in India, are usually a matter of non-public choice. The campus usually gives a wide range of dining choices, together with each vegetarian and non-vegetarian meals. While many students, workers, and college members at IIT Bombay observe a vegetarian eating regimen for private, cultural, or non secular causes, there isn’t any official requirement for students to be vegetarians.

The Narrative of Intimidation

The Indian Express has reported on the incident, claiming that non-vegetarian students are being intimidated. Quoting one pupil, they highlighted that regardless that there was all the time casual segregation of veg and non-veg meals eaters within the mess out of mutual respect, the formal rule and subsequent motion in opposition to protesters have created a certain quantity of concern amongst students.

Imposition of Fine and Campus-Wide Reactions

A fine was imposed after a web-based assembly of the mess council for hostels 12, 13, and 14 on October1, 2023 and in that assembly, the council asserted that the protest was a deliberate effort to disturb the tranquillity and unity within the mess, regardless of the recommendation offered by the Associate Dean of Students’ Affairs. Following the announcement of the choice to allocate six distinct tables for vegetarian meals within the closing week of September, a small group of students expressed their dissent by consuming non-vegetarian dishes at these designated tables.

Unmindful of this association, some ate non-vegetarian meals at one of many six tables designated for vegetarian-only dining, leading to ruckus within the dining space. In response, the mess council imposed a considerable fine of Rs 10,000 on one of many protesting students. This choice prompted robust reactions from each inside and outdoors the campus. Some professors expressed their disapproval on social media, whereas the Ambedkar Periyar Phule Study Circle cautioned that they’d provoke protests until the fine was rescinded.

Recently, IIT Delhi professor of philosophy Divya Dwived, in an interview to French media mentioned, “There are two Indias. The previous India of racialized caste order oppressing the bulk inhabitants, after which there may be the India of the long run that’s an egalitarian India with out caste oppression and Hinduism. That is the India which isn’t but represented however is ready, longing to indicate its visage to the world.“

Unveiling a Confidential Document

According to a confidential doc along with your correspondent , “ IIT is being dragged into unnecessary controversy for an imaginary discrimination/harassment against Dalits/ minorities by Zombie like personalities and D-Stock online monikers who stoop to the despicable level to abuse upper caste pedagogue in the institute and charging them with adopting caste-based discrimination against Dalits/oppressed, particularly when incidents of suicide of students take place in IIT Madras or when they are questioned by IIT-M academicians on their qualifications etc” it additionally says “The statistics on suicide by students in premier educational institutions like IITs, IIMs in the last 8 years show a total of 122 incidents in IITs/IIMs in the country,but none of such incidents point to the reason of caste-discrimination and repression against oppressed people by upper caste/Brahmin faculty”

The confidential report mentioned “Now, especially in Tamil Nadu, whatever be the issue being faced by the Dalit/reserved category students in IIT Madras or other institutions or whenever they are questioned by educators on some issues, a vilification propaganda is being hurled by the filthy rich and D-Stock persons who, with vested interests, play the trump card of oppression against under-privileged to exploit Dalits/minorities in lower strata and also resort to malicious campaign that such issues are taking place because of Brahmin domination” .

In 2015 The ban on the coed group, Ambedkar Periyar Study Circle (APSC) by the Dean of Students of IIT Madras, M S Sivakumar has sparked protests throughout different IITs and academic institutes who’ve began their very own variations of APSC as a mark of solidarity. IIT Bombay students have floated a bunch within the title of Ambedkar-Periyar-Phule Circle (APPC) and IIT Delhi has retained the unique title of APCS. Kolkata’s Jadhavpur University and New Delhi’s Jawaharlal Nehru University have too floated APSC of their campuses. APSC, which led an anti-Modi marketing campaign in IIT Madras campus, got here after a humanities division was established on the institute. Card-holding members of the CPI(M) signed in with out a lot delay.

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