Ambedkarite Student Elected to Key Position at Columbia University

An Ambedkarite student from Maharashtra has achieved success in a foreign land, a century after Ambedkar.
Vikas at the University of Columbia Library
Vikas at the University of Columbia Library

New Delhi. Columbia University, renowned as the alma mater of Babasaheb Bhim Rao Ambedkar, who received his dual post-graduate degrees and a doctoral degree and later received an honorary degree in 1952, has recently witnessed the ascent of an Ambedkarite student from Maharashtra, Vikas Tatad. His latest win is being the Treasurer in the Executive Board of Teachers College, which is part of Columbia University. In this role, Vikas will be responsible for managing the students' funds. Hailing from Bhimnagar slum in Amravati and belonging to a family with a humble background, Vikas's journey to Columbia University has been nothing short of remarkable. Vikas shared with The Mooknayak his experiences at the prestigious institution so far.

Vikas had won the position of Senator for International and Transcultural Studies last year by a handsome margin. He also managed to win the Chairperson post in the University Policy and Rules Committee by the votes of elected senators. Vikas added "Caste" as a protected category in the Discrimination and Harassment policy, emphasizing the importance of the post. He also organized the "John Dewey and Ambedkar" programme, which was attended by people and organizations from 30 countries. Vikas helped address concerns raised by students, such as improving the Ombuds office and make senate elections more inclusive and representative.

Vikas Tatad
Vikas Tatad

Becoming the Treasurer

Vikas won the treasurer position by defeating a student. Being one of the five key positions at the Executive Board at Teachers College, along with the President, Vice President, Communication Officer, and University Senator, the role of Treasurer can allocate student funds for organizing programs and activities, apart from expenditures on food.

Fights for Inclusivity and Diversity

Vikas, who hails from Bhimnagar slum in Amravati, approached the administration at Columbia University with a proposal to give preference in admission and scholarships to people who have suffered because of caste-based discrimination in India. The administration showed a positive response to Vikas's suggestion. He promised that as a Treasurer, he will work for the TC students and spread the of Ambedkarite vision of Prabuddha Bharat.

Vikas with his father in Amravati. His father runs a tea stall outside Dayasagar Hospital in the city.
Vikas with his father in Amravati. His father runs a tea stall outside Dayasagar Hospital in the city.

Humble Background

Vikas Tatad's father supports the family by selling tea outside the Dayasagar Hospital, while his mother runs a kirana store in the slum cluster. Despite his humble background, Vikas pursued B. Com from K. L College, Amravati, and Masters in Dalit and Tribal Studies and Action from Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai. He joined Columbia University after working with Adhyayan Asia.

About Columbia University

Columbia University is a private Ivy League University located in New York, attracting faculties and students from all over the world. The notable alumni include former U.S. Presidents Theodore Roosevelt and Barack Obama, and also Babasaheb Bhim Rao Ambedkar.

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