Lucknow: Earlier this year in February, an IIT Mumbai student, Darshan Solanki, committed suicide. His parents alleged that Solanki had told them he was asked about his general rank by his classmates. In guidelines issued by IIT Bombay to combat caste-based discrimination on campus, it was mentioned that asking fellow students about their birth, admission, or the category they belong to could lead to conscious or subconscious bias. It also warned against asking about JEE Advanced rank, GATE score, or any information that may reveal caste or other related aspects.
However, some recruiters at IIT Kanpur and Guwahati campuses have brazenly sought information regarding the general rank of students in JEE Mains and JEE Advance. Some recruiters have openly sought details regarding their category. Students on the campuses believe that a four-year-old JEE rank is immaterial, and recruiters should assess students based on recent performance at the campus and in placement exams.
According to a complaint filed with the SC/ST Commission and Ministry of Education, Dheeraj Singh, an alumnus of IIT Kanpur and IIM Calcutta, who runs the Global IIT SC/ST Alumni Support Group, has alleged that the Placement Office at IIT Kanpur has allowed recruiters to engage in caste-based discrimination against 500 students belonging to SC/ST and OBC backgrounds seeking placements at the institute.
In a letter addressed to the Placement Office at IIT Kanpur, Dheeraj has pointed out that a company named Merilytics has sought the general rank of students. "The company has made it mandatory for students to fill in their general rank twice in JEE Mains and JEE Advanced, which is a blatant attempt to discriminate against SC/ST/OBC students by this company, other companies, and IIT Kanpur officials who are facilitating this practice." The letter warns of legal remedies if such discriminatory practices do not stop.
In a similar email addressed to the Director of IIT Guwahati campus, Dheeraj mentions names of NAVI, ICICI, JLR (Tata) for asking general rank in JEE Mains and JEE Advanced. "We have several students' testimonials along with proof of the company's forms." The letter adds that copies of the aforementioned letters are also marked to the National Commission of SC/ST, Ministry of Education, Government of India, and Ministry of Social Justice, Government of India.
Larsen & Toubro, an Indian multinational, has even gone to the extent of asking for the community of the students. According to a screenshot shared with The Mooknayak, L&T has asked for details of "community," the dropdown list of which includes categories such as Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, etc.
Speaking to The Mooknayak, Dheeraj Singh said, "Students fear IITs might be using and sharing this sensitive personal data with companies without their consent, and it might jeopardize their job placement chances and even later career prospects in private sector companies due to prevailing bias and prejudice against SC/ST/OBCs. IITs should disclose category-wise placements done, as they have all the data. It will become clear if there is discrimination in campus hirings due to JEE category rank biases inside IITs and among companies. As SC/ST/OBC Cells in IITs are doing nothing to stop such discriminatory practices, complaints have been registered with NCSC and NCST to instruct IITs to ensure fair play for students belonging to marginalized backgrounds, who constitute 50% of the total students in IITs."