In February, the death by suicide of Darshan Solanki, a Dalit student of IIT Bombay, reignited a debate about the treatment of students from marginalised communities in India’s educational institutions. In Solanki’s case, details are continuing to emerge about what led to his death. But the problem is a larger one – in December 2021, the education minister stated in parliament that 122 students in Central government higher educational institutions had died by suicide between 2014 and 2021, and that 68 of these students were from Scheduled Caste, Scheduled Tribe and Other Backward Class communities.
In a two-part series, Scroll revisited two such cases from the past, to examine how institutions responded to the suicides and whether the campuses changed as a result. The first part revisited an Adivasi scholar’s death in West Bengal’s Vidhyasar University. The second part comes from one of India’s oldest and most elite scientific institutions, the Indian Institute of Science, in Bengaluru.
In 2007, Ajay Sree Chandra was a second-year PhD student at the Indian Institute of Science in Bengaluru. On August 26 that year, Chandra, who was from a Scheduled Caste, died by suicide in his hostel room.
In a 2012 documentary film by Round Table India, an anti-caste…