Posters for separate entry and exit, wash basins for veg, non-veg students at IIT-Madras kick up rowPosters for separate entry and exit, wash basins for veg, non-veg students at IIT-Madras kick up row

December 14, 2018

A new system of separate entrance, wash basins, utensils for vegetarian and non-vegetarian students at Indian Institute of Technology-Madras mess hall has kicked up a controversy, with a section of students describing it as a new form segregation and “modern untouchability”. The new system, which came into force at the Himalaya mess since Thursday night has enraged students, who have launched a campaign against it.

“Posters have appeared in the mess demarcating the entrance and wash basins for vegetarian and non-vegetarian students. Even tables are separate. Those having non-vegetarian food cannot share the table with those having vegetarian food, though both are served in the same mess,” said Sashi Bhushan, a student and co-coordinator of the Ambedkar Periyar Study Circle (APSC), a student body in the premier institute.

According to hostel staff, the new system was put in place following instructions from the Hostel Monitoring Committee. This being a vacation season, only two mess halls are running, it was pointed out.

The group posted photographs of the mess hall, with separate entrances and food counters for vegetarian and non-vegetarian students, and plastered with signs reading “hand wash, vegetarian students”, “entry/exit non-vegetarian students”.

“Upper caste households in India would usually have two entrances — one for the upper castes and the other one in the back for the ‘impure’ lower castes. A mess in IIT Madras is now having the same system. This mess has two separate entrances for vegetarians and non-vegetarians. Not just that — separate wash basins and separate utensils as well,” APSC’s Facebook post read.

Earlier, following a demand for a separate vegetarian mess, a poll among students was planned. But, it had to be abandoned due to strong opposition from within the student community.

“What has started as a demand for ‘pure’ vegetarian mess has become full-fledged untouchability. IIT Madras is trying to become a world-class institute, but the culture inside is still regressive in many respects,” said APSC’s Facebook post.

According to an IIT professor, who does not wish to be named, accommodating extreme demands of culinary practices is not in tune with a modern institute.

“Students demanding pure vegetarian mess have no qualms in attending international seminars and workshops where they dine together with those relishing non-veg dishes. Encouraging such demands will not help bring the students together. Mess is not only a place for dining. It is also a place where students talk, share and mingle,” he said.

A section of students have also sent a mail to the students’ dean, complaining about this new practice. “We have lodged a complaint to the dean through an e-mail. We will await his response before deciding on the future course of action,” said IIT Madras student Sashi Bhushan.


“This kind of separation for veg and non-veg is really appreciable. Why vegetarian students should suffer because of non-vegetarians. It is highly difficult to manage to eat with non-veg and this is matter of wisdom then there should be no anarchy on this.”- Editor, Vedic Upasna Peeth

Source : Hindustan Times 

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