News & Events

Panel Discussion | Institutional Casteism




Sunday, January 17, 2021, 6:00 pm

Savitri Phule Ambedkar Caravan (SPAC) is organizing a panel discussion on Institutional Casteism on 17th January 2021

About the event: A note from SPAC

On 17th January 2016, Rohith Chakravarti Vemula, a Dalit student and a Ph.D. scholar at the University of Hyderabad committed suicide. The events that followed Rohith’s death unmasked the tragedy of institutional casteism in India. As students, and more generally as citizens of India, we believe that it is our responsibility to understand and eliminate instances of institutional casteism. But for this, it is imperative for us to understand what it is and how it operates.

SPAC considers that the best way to honour Rohith’s memory is by educating people. With this purpose, SPAC humbly extends an invitation for a Panel Discussion on ‘Institutional Casteism’ on 17th January 2021 at 6 pm.

The panel will be witnessed by an open audience. Through this initiative, SPAC hopes to engage with the issues of Bahujan students and come up with ways to make university spaces as safe and accessible as possible. In pursuance of this, we have invited various heads of institutions, students, academics, activists, lawyers, and professionals to be a part of the event. We are excited that Dr. Sudhir Krishnaswamy, Vice-Chancellor, NLSIU, will also be addressing the audience. We humbly invite you to be a part of the discussion that is not just important, but also necessary and indispensable to engage with.


The Panel Discussion will be based on the following sub-themes:

1) Rise of Right-wing politics in India and its Impact on Higher Education

2) The pervasiveness of Casteism in Universities and Academia

3) Issues of Affirmative Action and Reservation (in IITs, NLUs, and other elite institutions)

4) The merit of Caste and Caste of Merit: Defining Merit in Indian Higher

5) Educational Caste(ing) Universities: How to make universities a safe space for Bahujan students?

Panel Members:

The panel will consist of the following luminaries:

Prof. Ajantha Subramanian is a Professor of Anthropology and South Asian Studies at Harvard University. Her book, The Caste of Merit: Engineering Education in India, tracks the relationship between meritocracy and democracy in India in order to understand the production of merit as a form of caste property and its implications for democratic transformation.

Prof. Bhangya Bhukya is a Professor and the Head of, Department of History at the University of Hyderabad. He specializes in Modern Indian History and has contributed extensively to the understanding of the evolution of the identities of the hillfolk and tribal communities in India.

Prof. C. Lakshmanan is a Professor at the Madras Institute of Developmental Studies. He has written extensively about the intersection of the Dalit identity with religion, politics, and even the Tamil film industry. He has recently co-authored Untouchable among the Untouchables: Case of Pudirai Vannars in Tamil Nadu.

Adv. Disha Wadekar is an advocate practicing in the Supreme Court and with Project 39A. In the recent Hathras incident,  she has filed an intervention in the Allahabad High Court for the implementation of the Atrocities  Act in Uttar Pradesh. Wadekar has also headed a legal resource center set up under a project by the London School of Economics. Her work has involved representation in cases of campus discrimination, Forest Rights claims, and custodial torture and deaths. Wadekar was the youngest lawyer representing victims of violence at Bhima Koregaon Judicial Commission in 2017- 2018.

Prof. N. Sukumar is a Professor of Political Science at the University of Delhi. He has years of experience in academia and has worked extensively to expose students to the Dalit standpoint while studying Indian Culture and Politics. He has spoken against the Brahmanical pedagogy in Indian Universities and also challenged an administrative decision to exclude works on the Dalit perspective.

Prof. Satish Deshpande is a Professor of Sociology at the Delhi School of Economics. His research interests include caste and class inequalities, contemporary social theory, politics, and history of the social sciences and south-south interactions. He has written extensively on the changes experienced by India through the lens of class, caste, and religion.

Mr. Anurag Bhaskar is a Professor at Jindal Global Law School. He completed his LLM (2018-19) from Harvard Law School, where he studied courses on constitutional law, constitutional history and civil rights movement, race, poverty and development, gender justice, philosophy, and the legal profession.

For queries, please email .