Bengaluru— In a significant development, the Karnataka government has urged the Ministry of Education to withdraw the coveted "Deemed to be Status" from Jain University, based in Bengaluru. This recommendation follows an inspection report and comes in the wake of a controversial skit that targeted Dalits and Dr. B.R. Ambedkar, enacted on the university campus. The move has sparked debates about accountability, inclusivity, and the role of educational institutions in promoting sensitivity towards marginalized communities.
The recommendation is based on an inspection report and comes months after the skit derogatory to Dalits and Dr. B.R. Ambedkar was enacted on the University campus. In a letter to the Union Ministry of Education, the government stated that the university's management was aware of the casteist dialogues in a skit performed on campus but took no action to prevent the enactment of the drama. The defense of the students in the letter also condemned the rustication of the students who participated in the skit, calling the move irresponsible.
The incident occurred in February 2023, during the university's annual college festival, Samyoga - The youth fest of the university. As part of that event, "Delroys Boys," a theater group from the College of Management Studies, performed a play that contained objectionable references to Dr. B.R. Ambedkar and the Dalit community. The skit altered the name of Dr. B.R. Ambedkar to "Beer Ambedkar" and used the line, "Why be a Dalit when you can be D-Lit?" The act did not sit well with a section of people, and students who attended the festival launched an online campaign on Jhatkaa.org, demanding a public apology from Jain University and the College of Management Studies for their actions. "The petition read. The petitioners also called for concrete steps to be taken to educate themselves and others on the importance of inclusivity and sensitivity toward marginalized communities." It is to be noted that the skit went through the scrutiny of the faculties and the administration.
Reacting to the recommendation, Akshay Bansode of the Vanchit Bahujan Yuva Aghadi said, "It will adversely affect the academics and the well-being of students, and it is unacceptable to us. The decision, which will affect the academic careers of a large number of students, won't stand in court; the Congress Karnataka government knows this and has therefore taken this convenient step that won't hold the administration accountable. The Karnataka government should stop its lip service and take concrete action against the administration."
The matter was raised in the Karnataka Assembly by legislators belonging to different communities. K Annadani, the then JDS MLA from Malavalli constituency, raised the issue during the zero hour of the house and said, "The police have arrested the students, but the government has to cancel the deemed status."
The then Law Minister J C Madhuswamy had said, "At present, it looks like students performed the skit, and based on this alone, we cannot withdraw the deemed status of the university. We will ask why it was not anticipated; we will ask them to conduct a probe and take action to prevent such incidents in the future."
The term "deemed university" refers to higher education institutions that have been granted university status by the Department of Higher Education, Ministry of Education. The UGC Act of 1956 provides for the Central Government to declare any institution, other than a university, to have the status of an Institution Deemed to be University as if it were a university within the meaning of Section 2(f). Upon declaration, such an institution shall be deemed to be a university.
Deemed universities are autonomous institutions that have the authority to award degrees and diplomas. The status of a deemed university is granted to an institution based on its overall academic record, research, and infrastructure. The revised criteria for deemed universities are:
The faculty strength should be 150.
The corpus fund for private institutions has been increased from Rs 10 crore to Rs 25 crore.
The UGC has the sole right to give recognition and withdraw it on a recommendation.