Advertisement
Wednesday, Dec 08, 2021
Outlook.com
Cover Story

Not Quite An End Note

In the end, the system got Rohith Vemula. He died thinking he could not win the caste battle, little knowing that he has started a war.

Not Quite An End Note
P. Anil Kumar
Not Quite An End Note
outlookindia.com
-0001-11-30T00:00:00+05:53

To get a measure of untouchability in our country, one needs only to look at the two-glass system. It is a practice whereby Dalits are not allo­wed to use the same glass as elite castes to drink water from. It was a version of this that Rohith Chakravarthi Vemula faced when he, along with four other PhD scholars and Ambedkar Students’ Association members, was suspen­ded from one of the top varsities in India. Starting January 3, 2016, the foursome faced a social boycott, forbidden from entering the hostel, the mess, the admi­nistrative building and interacting freely with faculty.

Rohith could have been forgiven for the brief delusion that he might have harboured about having left caste prejudice behind at Savitribai Nagar in Guntur where his home was when he earned a PhD seat (Science, Technology and Society Studies) in the University of Hyderabad. Hadn’t Ekalavya? Dronacharya’s proxy protege had to lose a thumb, Rohith gave up his life. Science on your mind and poe­try in your heart was never going to be enough. He wouldn’t be a Carl Sagan. A knowledge he was left with, before he left—“The value of a man...reduced to his immediate identity and nearest possibility. To a vote. To a number. To a thing. Never...as a mind.” That the paper he said it on had to be his suicide note is our collective shame. On January 17, his deathday, Rohith was just 13 days shy of his 27th birthday. He took leave of the world, but not of his convictions. He hanged himself with it. He couldn’t have made a braver statement for the cause.

Advertisement

Outlook Newsletters

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

Read More from Outlook

Aung San Suu Kyi Verdict 'Disturbing' But Will It Change India's Equation With Myanmar?

Aung San Suu Kyi Verdict 'Disturbing' But Will It Change India's Equation With Myanmar?

While India has time and again appealed for rapprochement between the democratic forces and the military, it has continued to engage with the junta in Myanmar.

Church In India Cosying Up To BJP To Protect Its Interests

Church In India Cosying Up To BJP To Protect Its Interests

What has led to this change of heart over the past few years for the Church, long seen to be anathemic to the Sangh Parivar?

Ashes, 1st Test, Day 1 LIVE: England Tottering At 87/5

Ashes, 1st Test, Day 1 LIVE: England Tottering At 87/5

England have not won a Test match in Brisbane since 1986-87. Can Australia protect that record this time in the Ashes? Follow live.

Why AFSPA In Jammu And Kashmir Is Not Just A Defence Act

Why AFSPA In Jammu And Kashmir Is Not Just A Defence Act

Has the AFSPA become an ideological Act, a tool to revise Kashmir history? Many analysts believe so.

Advertisement