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‘The Death of Merit’: A Documentary

April 24, 2011

On Suicides of Dalit Students in India’s Premier Educational Institutions

Linesh Mohan Gawle, a second year PhD student from National Institute of Immunology (NII), New Delhi, committed suicide in his hostel room on 16 April 2011. He belonged to a Dalit family from Dindori Tehsil in Jabalpur (Madhya Pradesh).

Linesh’s suicide is just one more addition in the growing list of Dalit students committing suicides in the country’s educational institutions, especially that of sciences and professional courses in recent times.  Most of these institutions are considered to be ‘top class’ and have ‘All India character’.

The number of students committing suicides in Indian campuses is in itself a big cause of worry for our society and points towards lacunae in our higher education system, proving it to be completely feudal and insensitive towards the students to say the least.

However, the disproportionate numbers of Dalit and Adivasi students committing suicides, especially, in premier institutions also points towards the kind of caste discrimination prevalent in these campuses where our students have to face harassment due to their caste background on a regular basis from not only their colleagues but more from the faculties and even from the administration.

The Documentary 

Last year, on March 3rd, 2010, another Dalit, Balmukund Bharti, final year MBBS student from All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), New Delhi committed suicide. He was from Kundeshwar village from Tikamgarh district of Madhya Pradesh. He was a bright student from a very humble background.

His parents accused AIIMS of caste discrimination that drove their son to commit suicide and demanded a probe. However, the police and the AIIMS administration plainly refused to consider this demand and cited ‘personal reasons’ for suicide without even conducting a preliminary enquiry.

Knowing the history of caste-discrimination in AIIMS our group decided to investigate the matter and went to Balmukund’s home to meet his parents on 1st April 2010.

What came out of our interaction with his parents and other family members was a shocking tale of how a young and bright Dalit student from very poor background was victimized so much on caste grounds in one of the premier educational institutions of the country that despite his entire record of struggle all through his life, he finally lost his willingness to even live.

We recorded the testimonies of Balmukund’s parents and his family members, taking small video clips with a digital still camera.

The Documentary ‘The Death of Merit’ is based on these testimonies and is a result of our amateur efforts to bring out the truth behind the kind of caste oppression suffered by Dalit and Adivasi students in higher education and the resulting suicides of our bright students like Balmukund Bharti.

It also raises a question on the definition of ‘merit’ in the country that is used to denigrate, harass, abuse Dalit and Adivasi students and has become a tool to display caste prejudices openly in Indian campuses both by faculties and other students.

What about the merit of students like Balmukund who defy all socio-economic odds and reach institutions like AIIMS based on their hard labour, determination and will to succeed in life?

Until when will our campuses remain the graveyard of students like Balmukund Bharti, a real meritorious student? 

19 Comments leave one →
  1. Gauravv permalink
    April 25, 2011 1:41 am

    IIFM is amongst these institutions who discriminates Dalits this year they have expelled 4 students on the excuse of OGPA below 2 and ruined their careers ,coincidently the chairperson IIFM is Yadav.
    WHether it is a coincidence or a deliberate attempt to prevent Dalits to pass out and and get a PG diploma . I think they secretly strive to push back Dalits against rising from the ashes.

  2. April 25, 2011 2:06 am

    it was heart tearing pain seeing this video.. I share the pain with those family and the families like those…When there will be full stop for this…I cant stop my tears….

  3. shubham solanki permalink
    April 25, 2011 4:34 am

    this documentary video shows the pathetic condition of the dalits in the the educational institutions in India. Dalits students try hard and scrifice their evrything to reach up such institutions and what does these institutions give them, discrimination, harassment and comments. For hwo will the dreams of dalit students shattered like that. We really need to take a strong effort and give a blow to these institutions and the government.

  4. April 25, 2011 5:52 am

    This is insane, whole system is involved in these murders of dalit students. We cant see our students getting murdered like this, this is a time to decide the action plan from all fronts though its academics, ngo’s, activists and political.

  5. Vinay Kumar permalink
    April 25, 2011 5:54 am

    The video attached with this blog is saying the true voice of 85% people of the country.. we should learn a lesson from it and unite against Manuvadi/Brahmanvadi/Jatiwadi forces… It is right time to push them in black hole.

  6. April 25, 2011 9:28 am

    Dalit Aadiwasi pratibhao ko mauka mila hota to aaj ke is yug me dalit daman ka shikaar nahi hota. na hi dalit praibhaaye maut ko gale lagati.Bhedbhaw to aaj bhi Bharatiy samaaj ki nas-nas me daud raha jisaka bhayawah natija-dalit shoshan,utpidan,nar-sanghar,bhumihinata,bhookh,berojgaari,hatyaaye,aatm-hatyaaye.chinta ka vishaya hai kya bharatiya sammaj dalit virodhi maansikata se ubar paayegaa. shayad nahi…….isake liye dalito-aadiwasiyo ko sangathit hokar aawaz buland karana hoga,tabhi virodhi vichardhara me samanata ki lahar ka sanchar ho sakega.sahi mayane me bharatiy jal-jamin aur jangal to inake hi hai durbhgybas wahi shoshan ke shikaar hai……..

  7. Velmurugan. k permalink
    April 25, 2011 10:00 am

    Dear Friends,
    It makes me very sad seeing this message. I am velmurugan.K from Pondicherry….doing Ph.D in Pondicherry University. I am very eager to organize our people all over India,, to against inhuman practices in India. we should not leave simply this kind of murders. please inform to me to unite our students community against this Indian Govt.

  8. Satish Gupta permalink
    April 25, 2011 1:32 pm

    Discrimination against the dalit students in educational institutions is indeed a matter of grave concern. First they have been denied any kind of education, leave alone higher education; and now they are treated in a manner which cannot be called right by any human standard. Some of our best researches have gone unnoticed due to this menace. This is a slur upon our tall claim to an ancient civilization. Why did we create dalit in the first place. I am reminded of a poem by William Blake:
    Pity would be no more
    If we did not make some body poor
    Mercy no more could be,
    If all were happy as we.

    The rigid caste hierarchies refute our claims to the noble thoughts as presented in the Upanishads. If all is Brahma then dalit is a brahma too.

  9. Prabhakaran permalink
    April 27, 2011 4:33 am

    Educational institutions in India necessitates nearness of Revolutionaries having light of modern scientific Socialism.

  10. Manoj Kumar permalink
    April 29, 2011 4:14 pm

    Discrimination with the SC students is just like a fashion for the higher castes. we must have to take some strict actions towards this, so such a kind of incident could not be repeated in future. we must have to make a front which is capable of punishing such a peoples who creates the situation of suicide for our brothers and sisters.

  11. B R S GANGAR permalink
    May 12, 2011 6:35 pm

    When I heard such type of incidents in which innocents are tortured mentally and physically due their caste, religion, region, I feel that is there any need of Indian Judiciary, Indian Beareucracy or Indian Police. 99% percent these public servants are biased, corrupt, extortionists, murderers. We are the population of 121 crores Indians , it is better to through out the existing servants out of their offices and recruit the new ones. These servants to whom we give the responsiblity of our country and of our public are shameless , idiot, insane, nonsense. It is our idiot judiciary due to which murderer, corrupt , criminal people are enjoying. Indian Police made a nexus with the criminals. They do not bother about the public safety. They always search for the incidents to make big money. They are the big property dealers because they deal in disputed properties. Dalit people are badly tortured in Police stations due to their cast only. It is the Dalit who work in the agriculture, factories, brick kilns, orchards, cleaning work, building construction, road construction etc. All others are white collared idiot who have practical productivity zero. They eat 90% of the product grown by the dalits .So they are the burden on this planet Earth. Dalits even can not enjoy their basic fundamental rights. It is shame shame to President of India, Govt of India, shame shame to Suprem Court of India, shame shame to Indian Judiciary, Indian Police and Indian beareucracy and to those who spread hate in the name of caste/religion. Shame Shame……….. Jai Bharat.

  12. BHUSH permalink
    September 8, 2011 10:06 am

    Here I want to blame Indian Media n human rights people now where they are ? They always interested political news and bollywood news. No one in this country is care 4 Dalit except Dr. Ambedkar.

  13. Sudhirkumar Dhanvijay permalink
    October 3, 2011 7:01 am

    It is really painful to know that still now and then this type of things r happening around us.
    unless and untill we come together and fight for ourself there is no other option.

  14. Sudhirkumar Dhanvijay permalink
    October 3, 2011 7:03 am

    we can’t just simply blame and relax. there is need to take action. politically we cant do anything as we have seen our leaders how they r acting. need totake strong action unitedly

  15. mukut permalink
    December 2, 2011 7:00 pm

    Institutions in USA/Europe is so good that they give all kind support to any people. Even their teachers are so good that without looking their background, color, ethnicity, cast teachers try to put full efforts to give them best education. Look at the OBAMA. He was black and he studied in USA and he got good education and became the president of OBAMA. Can we image that Indian education system prepare this kind of person whose is african, mother divorced and married to Malaysian guy. If such students enters in any school in India he will suicide because of so many comments, discrimination in school and in neighbor.
    I think India has deep rooted discrimination mind set. Today also Harijan, lower cast do not allow to sit or take the water from same Hand pump in MP, Rajasthan, UP. Orisa , They can not enter in temples. I am from village and whenver I visit my village I still see same treatment towards lower cast people. They are considered labour who clean houses, work in farms, take care of cattle. Govt should give the jobs to SC/ST people from villages as much and try to lift their standard. They should move out of shit cleaning jobs.

  16. aryan permalink
    January 26, 2012 7:11 pm

    humari samasya ka solution hame hi lana hoga.ham sabko ek institute banana chahiye or ye institute sabhi sc/st students ko coaching dega.or max. students general category me compete kar jane chahiye.jise sabhi pramukh iit jesi institute me hamari sankhya badhe.isse un logo ko bhi jawab mil jayega jo hame weak kehte he.


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