New Delhi- IIT Delhi withdrew a survey following outrage over "insensitive" questions. The survey came in the wake of the suicides of two students belonging to the SC category within a span of two months. IIT Delhi had to withdraw the survey due to opposition from students. The students claimed that the survey was improperly designed, biased, insensitive, and problematic. They also pointed out that the Scheduled Caste /Scheduled Tribe Cell of the institute was not consulted for the survey.
The survey was circulated by the institute's Board of Student Publications (BSP), an in-house student media body of IIT Delhi. It is run by the student community and is headed by Professor Gaurav Goel from the Department of Chemistry. The survey was titled 'Student Survey on Caste-Based Discrimination' and was conducted by the BSP for one of its publications.
The survey, which contained nine sections with a total of around 45 questions, was circulated through Google Docs with a promise of anonymity. It included basic mandatory questions about gender, category, year of course entry, annual family income, and background (urban or rural). However, according to a research student who wished to remain anonymous, the questions were quite insensitive and vague. The survey also included questions about affirmative action and the reservation system, as well as a mandatory question about CGPA score, which was considered irrelevant and offensive.
A B.Tech student commented, "Although the question regarding family income was also quite irrelevant, the most problematic question was the one that asked about fluency in English (including speaking, writing, and comprehension skills)."
One situational question asked, "Suppose you're hanging out with your peers in your hostel common room, and someone makes a comment that a person from the reserved category 'had it easier' or something similar. How common is this in your peer group?" This question led to the survey being stopped.
The suicides of two students within a span of two months prompted the administration to seek feedback. On July 10, Ayush Ashna, a student from the Mathematics department belonging to Bareilly, was found hanging in his room. On September 2, Anil Kumar, aged 21, also died by suicide. Both students belonged to the Scheduled Caste category and were part of the same batch (2019).
There was significant uproar against the administration following these suicides, with the student collective demanding accountability from the Director. This survey was initially seen as an attempt to gather feedback from students, but the questions raised concerns among the larger student community.