“I’ve become a victim of institutional exclusion”: KS Madhavan of Calicut University

02 June 2021

On 21 April, Madhyamam, a Malayalam newspaper published an opinion piece titled “The Anti-Reservation Mafia Flourishing in Universities.” The authors—PK Pokker, a visiting professor at Calicut University, and KS Madhavan, an associate professor in the history department at Calicut University—wrote that the implementation of reservation in Kerala’s universities was dismal. They referred specifically to recruitment for teaching posts. On 29 April, the Calicut University issued a memo to Madhavan demanding a written explanation “on the matter of discrediting the image of the University” and accused the senior academic of violating various sections of the Kerala Government Servants’ Conduct Rules which state that an employee cannot publicly criticise any government policy or make any communication to the press which could result in “embarrassing” the “relation between the Government and the people.”

In the Madhyamam article, Calicut University is mentioned only once to state that the National Scheduled Castes Commission sought a report from the university on “irregularities on the reservation.” According to a report in the New Indian Express, in April, the commission issued a notice to the university to submit details related to the recruitment of assistant professors to the nanoscience and technology, and physics departments. The notice was based on complaint filed by Pramod K, a post-doctoral fellow at the Indian Institute of Technology, Madras, and a member of a Scheduled Caste community. He had interviewed for a post at Calicut University and wrote that the selection process was not transparent.

Though the Madhyamam article was co-authored, Calicut University issued the notice only to Madhavan, who believes he is facing administrative action because he is Dalit. In an interview with Aathira Konikkara, a reporting fellow at The Caravan, the historian reiterated his commitment to speak for inclusive policies in higher education. “There should be academicians, administrators, vice chancellors and other authorities who have a larger vision of inclusive education, who understand the relevance of social justice,” he said. “They should be leading the universities.”

Aathira Konikkara is a staff writer at The Caravan.

Keywords: Dalit rights National Education Policy higher education reservation