Separate utensils, wash basins for vegetarians at IIT Madras; students term it ‘full-fledged untouchability’

In what seems like another step in the direction of an already regressive and discriminatory food policies in campuses of Indian Institute of Technology, IIT Madras has introduced separate entry and exit points, separate wash basins and separate utensils for vegetarian and non-vegetarian students on the campus .

The mess in question is ‘R R North Indian Mess’ which introduced this segregation three days ago. As this is the vacation period, only three messes are currently operational at the campus.  There was no official communication sent out to the students regarding the segregation. To the surprise of students, posters were put up inside the mess, indicating entry and exit points and separate wash basins for non-vegetarian students etc. The segregation has also introduced separate seating space, and separate plates for non-vegetarian students. Also, IIT Madras recently introduced a ‘vegetarian only’  mess to cater to vegetarian students on the campus.

One such student Mohan*, who was not aware of segregation said, “Three days back I sat towards the vegetarian side, I had an egg in my plate, the management came and forced me to sit on the other side, I was told that other students do not like if non vegetarian students sit here, so they asked me to sit on the other side.” Ambedkar Periyar Study Circle, a Facebook page by IIT Madras students, termed this move as  ‘full fledged’ untouchability.

The issue of food choices and targeting of non-vegetarian food has been going on for the last few years. In 2014, the MHRD through its under secretary forwarded a letter to 14 IITs asking them not to provide “tasmic” food and the action taken in this regard was also sort from the Directors of IITs. Earlier this year, IIT Bombay asked the canteen in the civil engineering department to stop serving non-vegetarian food including eggs. Again, the same campus in one of the hostels asked student who have non-vegetarian food to use separate plates.

Currently, students eating non vegetarian food have been forced to enter from other side of the mess, and take separate plate for food. Students intend to take up this issue and  file a complaint against this segregation with the administration

*Name changed to protect the student

Courtesy: Two Circles



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