IIT-Delhi has 'etiquette lessons' for SC/ST students - Do you support it?

MUMBAI: Even before this year's freshmen enter the Indian Institute of Technology-Delhi, some others will be pushed to pick up etiquette lessons required to live on the tech school campus. The objective may be well-intentioned but putting just the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe candidates through a 'self-enrichment programme' has prompted experts to criticize the move as "smacking of apartheid" and causing a "distinction" between two sets of students on the basis of caste.

Delhi is the only IIT to have felt the pressing need to put all the selected SC/ST candidates through classes on manners.

The co-ed programme—which will be run from July 10 to July 17—is made up of modules on communication, personality development and theatre for communication (more like public speaking). Put together, "in all logical integrity, it is meant to boost the confidence of students who come from a different background", say IIT-Delhi heads.

But not everyone thinks of the "correctional programme" as a means to achieve equilibrium among campus residents. An IIT-Delhi faculty member snorts at the idea. "A campus is a symbol of assimilation of many minds and several lives. To carve out a group on the basis of their origins and put them through a training programme—I would term it nothing short of apartheid."

Many parents too aren't kicked about the idea. "On day one, the institute is telling my child that he is different," rues a parent from Andhra Pradesh whose son is joining IIT-D.

TISS director S Parasuraman feels it is not useful to segregate students at all. "Every student who joins IIT knows his/her maths but may not be able to write good English. All students from rural and underprivileged backgrounds need adjustment but putting them through a training programme is not the answer. IIT-Delhi needs to have a long-term support system in place and hire better counsellors for every student, not just SC/STs or OBCs," he says.

The residential programme is conducted by the Centre for Research and Education for Social Transformation, Kerala (CREST). It will enable SC/ST students to develop social skills, orientation and have the ability to adapt to the environment at IIT Delhi, states the note sent to all the SC/ST students.

Ashley Paul, a CREST co-ordinator, says, "Most of these students don't have the social capital; they are mostly first-generation learners and they come from rural parts of India. The course leaves them a lot more certain than when they walked in."

From classes in communication to touching on all aspects of personality development, Paul says the course is meant to help students shed their inhibitions and "come out of their shell".

But IIT-D director Surendra Prasad says he would love to leave the door open for any general category student who wants to attend the programme. "The programme came out of our desire to be pro-active, to take care of all our students, especially those who hail from different backgrounds. The entire academic community at the institute felt that a section of the students need to be better prepared and confident for their stint at the institute."
- As in News on Times of India

What do you think about this? Is it a good news, a bad news or will be just a passé?


  • optimystix
    I would not feel good about it if I were such a student being put through such a program that distinguishes me based on my caste. It is rather shameful of such a prestigious institute doing all this.
  • Pensu
    I dont think this is such a big deal.If someone is not of that level and these ppl are trying to boost up their level then its a good thing. They are only trying to improve personality of students who are from rural area. I dont find anything bad in it.

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