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IIT Bombay teachers criticize fine on student protesting over 'veg-table'; check details

Other professors and students have also expressed their dissatisfaction with these developments, contending that government spaces should not endorse segregation based on dietary choices.

IIT Bombay teachers criticize fine on student protesting over 'veg-table'; check details AJR
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First Published Oct 5, 2023, 2:13 PM IST

A decision by IIT Bombay to allocate separate tables for vegetarian students in one of its messes, along with imposing a fine on a protesting student, has ignited controversy within the institute. Some of the faculty members at IIT Bombay expressed strong disapproval of these actions.

Assistant Professor Anupam Guha from the Ashank Desai Centre for Policy Studies at the institute criticized the fine imposed on the protesting student, describing it as "disgraceful." He emphasized the importance of academics speaking out against such measures.

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Meanwhile, a fine of Rs 10,000 was levied on a student by the mess council of hostels 12, 13, and 14, which includes four professors and three student representatives. Professor Suryakant Waghmore from the department of humanities and social sciences joined in the criticism, stating that the concept of "Bhartiya vegetarianism of purity and segregation" is a societal ailment that needs to be treated, not institutionalized.

In a column published earlier, Waghmore highlighted the connection between vegetarianism's purity ideals and the caste system's influence on food preferences in India. Guha had previously criticized the decision on September 28, calling the segregation of spaces based on food "irrational" and rooted in caste-based purity-pollution practices.

Other professors and students have also expressed their dissatisfaction with these developments, contending that government spaces should not endorse segregation based on dietary choices. They argue that eating non-vegetarian food is neither a crime nor illegal, and such decisions would not withstand legal scrutiny.

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The mess council imposed the fine on a student who protested against the designation of specific tables for vegetarian-only meals. The controversy erupted when the student, accompanied by a few others, protested by consuming non-vegetarian food at the segregated tables on September 28.

The mess council cited "unruly behavior" and "violation of mess norms" as the reasons for the fine and indicated plans to take disciplinary action against two more students once their identities are confirmed. The institute's administration has yet to comment on the issue.

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