Kerala has no Dalit vice-chancellor

Activists fear exclusion despite globally acclaimed scholars.

Thiruvananthapuram: With the search for vice-chancellors for three universities in the state going on, Deccan Chronicle finds out that the state had no Dalit VC in its 62 years of existence.

The only Malayali to occupy the post was former vice-president K.R. Narayanan, who was the third VC of Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) from January 3, 1979, to October 14, 1980.

During the period of the previous UDF government, Kerala University had its only Dalit pro-VC, N. Veeramanikandan. Prominent economist M. Kunhaman, a professor at School of Rural Development of Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS), Tuljapur campus, said though the state masquerades itself as progressive, it is essentially feudalist.

“The narrative about the progressiveness of the state is built in half-truth and untruth. The exclusion of Dalits from higher education institutions is successfully hidden under this garb of progressiveness,” said Mr Kunhaman, Dr V. Bijukumar, associate professor, Centre for Political Studies, JNU, New Delhi, said there was a problem with the construction of social justice.

Even after 62 years, most of the institutions, including the higher educational institutions, the representation of the Dalit are meagre in number. Dalits did not develop capital and institutions of their own in the state and thereby could not influence political power, said Mr Bijukumar.

Social Activist V.B. Ajayakumar, executive director of RIGHTS, Thiruvananthapuram, said the real problem was that there was a mindset that did not approve of Dalit scholarship. “That’s why there were no Dalit vice-chancellors even while we had internationally acclaimed sch-olars like M. Kunhaman and P. Sanal Mohan,” said Ajayakumar.

( Source : Deccan Chronicle. )
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