Caste chauvinism in Delhi University
By: Amit Singh and Vatsala Shrangi   Date:  2010-09-07   Place: Delhi

Principal allegedly targets Dalit teacher for demanding his ouster

The caste map of India just got bigger. The new addition, though,
would take a lot of people by surprise.
Delhi University has allegedly joined the so-called caste chauvinists
of states like Uttar Pradesh and Bihar.

An embattled principal of a Delhi University college, who is already
facing charges of sexual misdemeanour, has allegedly made a casteist
comment against a Dalit teacher.

Dr Vijay Sharma, principal, Ram Lal Anand College of Delhi University,
has been charged with abusing a Dalit teacher of his institution by
calling him names.

"On August 31, I was standing along with some teachers who were
protesting against the principal on some issues in the college
verandah. I reached the spot after taking my class and was standing
with two of my colleagues when a peon told me that the principal has
asked for me," Dr Surendra Kumar, ad-hoc lecturer, Hindi, said in a
written complaint to the staff association, a copy of which is with

"The principal threatened he would sack me. He misbehaved with me and
said 'Gaon mein hote to joote hi banate, yahan padane aaye ho ya
rajneeti karne?' (If you had not come to a city, you would have been
making shoes back home in your village. Are you here to teach or play
politics?"Dr Kumar alleged in his complaint against the Dr Sharma.

The ad-hoc Dalit teacher said the mistreatment at the hands of the
principal caused him immense emotional hurt. "I am aghast. Why did he
target only me?"
"I am under extreme emotional stress. I am afraid the principal will
suspend me. I am the sole bread winner of my family and I seek the
help of the staff association," the complaint by Dr Kumar read.
All but two of the 47 permanent facult y members of Ram Lal Anand
College have been on an indefinite strike since August 26, calling for
an independent investigation into the "misdeeds" of their principal.

The faculty has put out a "chargesheet" against Sharma, calling for
him to be sent on leave pending enquiry. It also mentions gender
harassment complaints filed by three senior women faculty members
early this year. "The latter (Apex Complaints Committee, Delhi
University) refused to make it a prima facie case of gender harassment
without giving the complainants (an opportunity) to depose before it,"
the document states.

The college's governing body has set up a committee to look into the
allegations made by the women teachers and a report is expected soon.
Teachers at the college have not only held the teaching process to
ransom but also locked the principal's room for which the police had
to be called on August 31.

"I don't want to talk about it, but I know that Sharma has threatened
Surendra Kumar for joining the protest against him. The manner in
which he (the principal) works and behaves with the faculty members,
especially women, is very offensive. He often humiliates teachers,
shouts at them and call them shirkers,"said Rakesh Kumar, president
staff association of the college. The Other Side
I have never talked to any body in an offensive manner, whether a
Dalit or a non-Dalit. I have so many Dalit friends, I cannot even
think like this. I don't even remember talking to somebody by this
name (Surendra) in my faculty. This is news to me. This is all trade
union tactics to frame me. I just wanted to improve work ethics in the
college, but the staff is opposing my reformist agenda.
I am a victim and am being harassed by faculty members. At this
juncture, I should be the one talking about harassment. I am
emotionally beleaguered and traumatized. Things are not normal for me,
there is a great amount of uncertainty.
- Dr Vijay Sharma, principal, Ram Lal Anand College

* Soon after its release, Madhuri Dixit's comeback vehicle 'Aaja
Nachle' was banned by Punjab and Uttar Pradesh governments for using
derogatory words in the title song.
The song used the word "mochi" (cobbler) in contravention of the SC/ST
Act. The ban, however, was soon revoked after the makers of the movie
changed the lyrics.
* "Billu Barber", the story of a village hairdresser who is a
childhood friend of a Bollywood actor played by Shah Rukh Khan, was
criticised by an association of hairdressers who found the title
offensive. SRK talked to the association of hairdressers and assured
them that he would hide the word "barber" from posters and billboards,
and bleep out the word from the film, which released in February last

According to the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention
of Atrocities) Act, 1989 3(1)[x], any person who intentionally insults
or intimidates with intent to humiliate a member of a Scheduled Caste
or a Scheduled Tribe in any place within public view shall be
punishable with imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than
six months but which may extend to five years and with fine.

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