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2 IIM-B faculty members accuse IIM-A of hiding behind a facade of non-discrimination

  • 2 IIM-B faculty members highlight the absence of diversity and under-representation of marginalised groups at IIM-A
  • All IIMs, except IIM-A, have taken ameliorative steps by implementing reservations in their Ph.D. programmes, says a letter by Siddharth Joshi, a fellow and Deepak Malghan, associate professor at IIM-B

BENGALURU : Two faculty members of the Indian Institute of Management-Bengaluru (IIM-B) on Friday shot off a letter to the director of IIM-Ahmedabad, accusing the institution of hiding behind a facade of non-discrimination and highlighting the absence of diversity and under-representation of marginalised groups within one of the top management schools in the country.

Siddharth Joshi, a fellow and Deepak Malghan, associate professor at IIM-B wrote in their personal capacity to IIM-A director, Errol D'Souza, highlighting the gaps in recruiting marginalised groups on the fourth death anniversary of death of Rohit Vemula, a second year Ph.D scholar at Hyderabad University who took his own life after allegedly discrimination.

“IIMs have tried to hide behind the facade of "we do not discriminate, but there are not enough qualified candidates from historically marginalized groups," Joshi and Malghan wrote in their letter. They added that such reasons were “at best an indefensible excuse that betrays entrenched privilege". They reason that over 90% of IIM faculty members are drawn from less than 10% of Indian society.

Vemula’s death became a rallying point for students aiming to sharpen the focus on marginalization of backward classes in educational institutes, institutional harassment of students belonging to weaker sections by methods including holding back stipends by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led central government.

“It is about time IIM-A listened to its own alumni and students who have for long pointed out the hollowness and nakedness underlying the emperor's faux-defense of anachronistic exclusionary practices," the letter stated.

According to the table attached by the two signatories, the percentage of other backward classes (OBC) in the 18 IIM's is just 3.46% while the number drops to 0.84% when to comes faculty from groups classified as Scheduled Castes (SC) and 0.24% of Scheduled tribes. Faculty from general classes account for 95.47%. There are no faculty members from OBC, SC or ST in IIM-A, according to the table provided by Joshi and Malghan.

IIM-A director Errol D'Souza could not be immediately reached for comment.

The two signatories of the letter, in 2017, had authored a working paper titled ‘Missing Scholars: Social Exclusion at the Indian Institutes of Management’ highlighting how IIM’s suffer from an acute social diversity deficit in the composition of their faculty bodies.

In the letter on Friday, Malghan and Joshi said that across the twenty IIM’s, over 40% of the faculty members were trained within the system. “We have an apartheid like outcome because we have used every trick in the book to evade reservations in our Ph.D. programs. How can we complain of a skewed talent pool when the plurality of faculty members within the IIM system have been trained in our own institutions, and we have been so unimaginative with our graduate programs," the letter read.

It added that all IIMs, except the one at Ahmedabad have taken ameliorative steps by implementing reservations in their respective Ph.D. programmes.

The letter said that the institute should make immediate amends to its Ph.D programmes as it has a “constitutional obligation to remedy centuries of acute inequity in access to knowledge".

They added that the institute should stop defending the “wall of exclusion" that Rohith fought hard to breach. “ We urge you to make a new beginning this January 17th, and dress yourself up with the enduring wisdom of Rohith's stardust," the letter added.

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