Jadavpur alumni in solidarity with Dr. Maroona Murmu in face of casteist/racist violence in Indian academia

Statement of solidarity from JU alumni

As alumni of Jadavpur University (JU), we condemn the casteist abuses hurled against a renowned professor of History at Jadavpur University, Dr. Maroona Murmu, because of her identity as an Adivasi.

The remarks were made in response to Dr. Murmu’s comment that an academic year was not more important than a student’s life and that in-person examination during the ongoing deadly coronavirus pandemic was not a good idea. This was admittedly a reasonable stand in face of the government’s decision to hold exams during the Covid-19 outbreak. In response, she received casteist abuses from an undergraduate student who called her out on social media as a “worthless, undeserving idiot” (“jogyotaheen opodartho” in Bengali). It questioned both her scholarly credibility and her right to speak out on any aspect of academic life (the security and well-being of students during a contagious disease outbreak, for instance). The student then went on to “remind” Dr. Murmu of her identity as an Adivasi Santhal and her inferior position in the caste hierarchy that made her unworthy of any consideration. This was followed by over 1800 trolls and rebukes. It is continuing.

It is atrocious, infuriating, and absolutely unacceptable. Given Dr. Murmu’s illustrious academic career and her fearless critiques as an activist, it is appalling how openly she is being subject to organised humiliation on the basis of her identity. It is well-known how academia in India is deeply entrenched in the hierarchised caste-system. No upper-caste academic would be subject to such humiliation by a student in a similar context. Of course, many would immediately jump to defend caste/casteism as a myth in contemporary India and as a relic of the past. It is not, as we have repeatedly seen. Caste is so visceral and so endemic that it becomes invisible to us, and therefore serves to normalise and rationalise this particular form of discrimination. It has gained a wider and vicious currency under the current far-right government in power with its Hindu nationalistic agenda that openly advocates violence and hatred against Dalits, Muslims, and all minority communities.

We stand in unequivocal support of Dr. Maroona Murmu in these challenging times. This is not the first time she has faced casteist humiliation in academia. Academic space in India continues to be Brahmanical, unfortunately. In light of this incident, therefore, we condemn the humiliation and harassment that is regularly meted out to Adivasi, Dalit, and Bahujan intellectuals. We demand independent enquiries be made and severe punitive measures put in place for anybody found guilty of casteist abuse/discrimination thereafter. In recent years, casteist Savarna lobbies have tried to move the Supreme Court to dilute the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989. We demand the Act is implemented fully, without any alteration, to deter caste violence. Further, concrete steps should be taken for bringing about structural changes to fight casteism in academia. The writings of Ambedkar and the emerging scholarship on Dalit Studies, Dalit feminism, intersectionality and systemic casteism should be taught in college so that privileged-caste Hindu and more generally the Savarna students do not continue to associate their own caste-privilege with merit and the lack of caste-privilege with lack of merit/worth. This is urgently required, not just in Jadavpur University, but in all academic institutes of the country.   Casteism runs too deep in our system and every Savarna, regardless of their political commitments, becomes complicit in perpetuating it. At a time when the fight against systemic inequality is gaining ground across spaces, including academia, we must pledge to come together and strive towards a more inclusive and anti-casteist world of scholarship.

In solidarity,

  1. Saumyashree Ghosh (Doctoral candidate at Princeton University, JU History alumna M.A. 2012)
  2. Kunal Chattopadhyay (Professor and Dean at Jadavpur University, JU History alumnus M.A. 1981)
  3. Satyasikha Chakraborty (Asst. Professor of History at The College of New Jersey, JU History alumna M.A 2011)
  4. Ranu Roychoudhuri (Asst. Professor at Indian Institute of Technology Guwahati, JU History alumna M.A. 2005)
  5. Mrinalini Vasudevan (Editor at The Marg Foundation, JU English alumna B.A. 2010)
  6. Tithi Bhattacharya (Professor at Purdue University, JU History alumna B.A. 1992)
  7. Ritajyoti Bandyopadhyay (Assistant Professor at IISER Mohali, JU History alumna B.A. 2003, M.A. 2005, PhD 2011)
  8. Debarati Bagchi (Senior Research Associate at Max Weber Stiftung India Branch Office, New Delhi; JU History alumna M.A. 2005)
  9. Sujisnu Mahato (Journalist, JU History alumna, 2005-10)
  10. Anupam Chatterjee (Principal Correspondent at Financial Express, JU Comparative Literature B.A. 2010 & Film Studies M.A. 2012)
  11. Soumendra Nath Sarkar (Professor Retd. at Indian Statistical Institute, Calcutta. JU alumna, PhD 1980)
  12. Ritwik Bhattacharyya (PhD Princeton University 2018, JU History alumnus MA. 2005)
  13. Rashmi Guha Ray (University of York, JU History alumnus M.A. 2011)
  14. Arnab Chakraborty (Research Fellow, University of York, JU History alumnus, MA 2011)
  15. Ishan Mukherjee (Asst Professor at the Jindal School of Journalism and Communication, JU History alumnus B.A. 2007)
  16. Neha Chatterji (Postdoctoral Fellow at Manipal University, JU History alumnus M.A. 2010)
  17. Sarbajit Mitra (Doctoral candidate at SOAS, University of London, JU History alumna 2011)
  18. Anwesha Sengupta (PhD candidate at Columbia University, JU alumna Department of History, 2009-2014)
  19. Lokeshwari Dasgupta (Dancer, JU alumnus History UG, PG, MPhil 2006-2014)
  20. Biboswan Bose (Doctoral student at Centre for Studies in Social Sciences Calcutta, JU History alumna 2009-2014).
  21. Raka Roy (University of Delhi, JU alumna Department of History, 2008 – 2013).
  22. Sayantani Adhikary (Assistant Professor of History, Sadhan Chandra Mahavidyalaya, JU History alumna, M. A 2004)
  23. Tathagata Neogi (Co-Founder and Chief Innovation Leader at Immersive Trails, JU History alumna, BA 2008)
  24. Sravani Biswas (Nanyang Technological University, JU History 2002)
  25. Praskanva Sinharay (PhD candidate at Centre for Studies in Social Sciences Calcutta, formerly student of International Relations in JU)
  26. Sushovan Sircar (Senior Correspondent, The Quint. B.A, St. Xavier’s College, Kolkata; M.A, Jamia Millia Islamia University. Briefly attended JU Film Studies in 2010)
  27. Sourav Ghosh (PhD candidate at University of California, Berkeley; JU History alumna B.A. 2010, MA 2012, M.Phil 2014)
  28. Titas De Sarkar (PhD student at South Asian Languages and Civilizations, University of Chicago. JU History alumna, 2007-2014).
  29. Upamanyu Pablo Mukherjee (Professor, Warwick University, UK; JU alumnus BA and MA, 1990-1995)
  30. Sourit Bhattacharya (Lecturer in English Literature, University of Glasgow; JU alumnus MA, English literature & MPhil, Social Sciences, 2007-2012)
  31. Chitrak Bhadra (Postdoctoral Fellow at Columbia University, JU Physics alumnus PhD 2019).
  32. Insiya Poonawala (Editor at Orient BlackSwan, JU Department of English, M.A. 2009).
  33. Rukmini Banerjee (President, HasNa, Inc. & JU alumnus M.A. 2012)
  34. Samyak Ghosh (PhD candidate at Columbia University, JU alumnus M.A. English 2012)
  35. Samik Dasgupta (PhD candidate at Jawaharlal Nehru University, JU alumnus B.A. 2011)
  36. Arijit Datta (Chartered Engineer, IEI, JU alumnus 2004)
  37. Aparna Chaudhuri (Assistant Professor of English at Ashoka University, JU alumnus B.A. 2011)
  38. Ahona Panda (Humanities Teaching Fellow in the Department of South Asian Languages and Civilizations at University of Chicago, JU alumna 2011)
  39. Sugoutam Ghosh (Senior Lecturer, Singapore University of Social Sciences, JU Production Engg 2000)
  40. কৃত্তিকা সেনগুপ্ত , শিক্ষিকা, যাদবপুর প্রাক্তনী
  41. Sujata Mukherjee (Professor at Rabindra Bharati University, JU Ph.D 1992)
  42. Sattwick Barman (Editor at The Indian Express, JU Department of International Relations, B.A. 2011)
  43. Rodosi Garai (Educator, JU Department of Comparative Literature, M.A. 2018)
  44. Rukmini Banerjee (Research Fellow at None in Three Research Centre, JU Department of Comparative Literature B.A. 2010)
  45. Anurima Sen (Managing Editor, Oxford University Press, JU Department of English, M.A. 2011)
  46. Sanchari Bhattacharya (Head of Creative Writing, Dharma Life Sciences. JU Department of English, M.A. 2012)
  47. Abhijit Dutta (Editor at Pearson, JU Department of English, 2014)
  48. Ria Basu, (Manager at Global Health Strategies, JU Comparative Literature B.A. 2010)
  49. Sujaan Mukherjee (Education & Outreach, DAG Museums; JU alumna Department of English, M.A. 2013; PhD current)
  50. Anupam Basu (JU Electronics, BE 1980)
  51. Somnath Basu (Assistant Professor of English at Ramananda College, Bishnupur; JU alumna Department of English, M.A. 2008, M.Phil. 2010)
  52. Souvik Mukherjee (Assistant Professor of English, Presidency University, Kolkata; JU alumna Department of English, M.A. 2002; MPhil 2005)
  53. Debapratim Chakraborty (Assistant Professor of English, Barasat Government College, JU alumna Department of English, M.A. 2012)
  54. Angana Das (PhD student at Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur; JU alumnus Department of Comparative Literature, M.A. 2016)
  55. Anustup Basu (Associate Professor at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, JU alumnus Department of English, M.A., 1996).
  56. Sayantanee Ghosh (Senior Editor at Macmillan Education India, JU alumnus, JU Department of English, M.A. 2011)
  57. Prabuddha Ghosh (JRF, PhD Candidate at Jadavpur University, JU alumna Comparative Literature M.A. 2014)
  58. Arjun Gourisaria (Filmmaker, Teacher. JU alumna B.A. Economics Hons., 1986.)
  59. Rwiti Roy (Graduate Student in Sociology, Florida State University, JU alumna Comparative Literature, B.A. 2012-2015)
  60. Debalina Chowdhury (Advertising Professional. JU Alumnus, Dept. of English, M.A. 2011)
  61. Aratrika Chanda (Human Resource CIPD Professional, JU Alumnus at Department of Comparative Literature, M.A 2014)
  62. Aparajita Dutta (PhD Student in Comparative Literature, Louisiana State University. JU Alumnus, Department of Comparative Literature M.Phil 2015)
  63. Parjanya Sen (Assistant Professor at Sonada Degree College, Darjeeling. Ph. D. at Centre for Studies in Social Sciences Calcutta, JU Alumnus (M.A. 2009, M. Phil 2012)
  64. Sambuddha Ghosh (Assistant Professor in the West Bengal Educational Service, Krishnagar Govt. College & Ph.D. candidate at Jadavpur University; JU alumnus English M.A. 2012, M. Phil. 2014).
  65. Anushka Sen (Ph.D. candidate in Dept. of English, Indiana University, Bloomington; JU Alumnus B.A. 2009-12, M.A. 2012-14).
  66. Reeti Roy (Founder and CEO, Aglet Ink, M Sc. in Social Anthropology at the London School of Economics and Political Science; JU Alumnus B.A. 2007-10)
  67. Hrileena Ghosh (JU alumna Department of English, M.Phil. 2010).
  68. Nicole Urvi Saviel (English Facilitator at Tech Mahindra Foundation, JU alumna B.A. Comparative Literature 2013-2016)
  69. Abhijit Kundu (University of Delhi, JU Economics alumna1982-86)
  70. Sayori Ghoshal (PhD candidate at Columbia University; JU English 2008)
  71. Syamantakshobhan Basu (Copyeditor at JU Press, JU Department of English alumnus M.A. 2016)
  72. Sahana Ghosh (Postdoctoral Fellow at Harvard University; JU Dept. of English M.A. 2008)
  73. Ankana Betal (Assistant Professor at Aliah University, Kolkata; JU alumna Dept. of Bengali, M.A. 2009)
  74. Mahadyuti Adhikary (District Nodal Officer of Kanyashree Prakalpa and Officer-in-Charge of DM’s Confidential Section, Dakshin Dinajpur; JU Dept. of English, 2003-2008).
  75. Priyanka Kumar (UG Faculty at Maryland Institute College of Art, Baltimore; JU alumna Department of English B.A. 2011)
  76. Alokananda Mandal (Curriculum Developer at Tata Class Edge; Post-graduate student at the Department of Education, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai; JU Department of English alumnus 2013-2018)
  77. Saborni Ahamed (Activist and Campaigner, JU alumna B.A. 2014)
  78. Rudrani Dasgupta (Programme Officer at ActionAid India, JU alumna B.A. 2010)
  79. Gaurav Ray (Lead Business Analyst, Rakuten India, JU BME 2007-2011)
  80. Nandita Roy (Assistant Professor, Indian Institute of Management Lucknow, JU Department of English, 2006-2011)
  81. Swarnajit Chatterjee (Research Associate at Indian Association for the Cultivation of Science, Kolkata. JU Physics B.Sc and M.Sc, 2007-2013)
  82. Laharee Chatterjee (Senior Editor at Global Communications, ABB, University of Sussex, JU alumnus 2008-11, B.A. Political Science & International Relations)
  83. Sucheta Chakraborty (Film & Culture Critic, Editor. MSc Film Studies, University of Edinburgh; JU alumnus M.A. English 2012)
  84. Chitranka Banerjee (Senior Research & Advocacy Consultant at Self Employed Women’s Association [SEWA Bharat], Delhi; JU International Relations, 2012-2016)
  85. Uttaran Das Gupta (Journalist and Novelist. JU alumna English B.A. 2008 and M.A. 2010).
  86. Semanti Basu (PhD Jawaharlal Nehru University, JU alumna English M.A. 2015)
  87. Subhankar Bhattacharya (JU alumna M.Phil in English 2013)
  88. Ayesha Ghosh (Content Head at SUGAR Cosmetics, JU Alumna Comparative Literature, B.A. and M.A. 2007 – 2012)
  89. Rini Tarafder (PhD candidate, University of Wisconsin- Madison; JU Department of Comparative Literature, M.A. 2013, M. Phil 2015)
  90. Sumit Naskar (IT Consultant, TCS; JU Computer Science 2008)
  91. Sebanti Chatterjee (Adjunct Faculty, Christ College, Bangalore. JU alumnus M.A. 2010, M.Phil 2012)
  92. Anuradha Gupta (Associate Professor in Physics at Behala College, PhD from JU)
  93. Sritama Chatterjee (PhD candidate at Department of English, University of Pittsburgh, JU English alumna M.A. 2016, M.Phil 2018)
  94. Amrapali Chatterjee (PhD candidate at Western University; JU M.Phil. 2015)
  95. Shoham Sen (PhD candidate at Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh; Jadavpur University alumna, BE 2013)
  96. Sambhabi Ghosh (PhD candidate at University of Illinois Urbana Champaign, Illinois; JU alumna B.A. 2016, M.A. 2018)
  97. Nomami Nondy (Academic Editor at Editage; JU Comparative Literature, M.A. 2013)
  98. Madhura Chakraborty (Asia Apcific Forum on Women, Law and Development, JU English alumnus B.A 2007, M.A 2009)
  99. Samrat Sengupta (Assistant Prof. of English at Sammilani Mahavidyalaya, JU Alumni, M.A. in English, 2005 & PhD from CSSSC, 2018)
  100. Tapan Chakraborty (Professor, Indian Statistical Institute, JU Alumnus: PhD from JU, 1991).
  101. Abhisek Roy (Engineer, JU Mechanical 2011).
  102. Somak Paul (Assistant Professor at California State University, JU Alumnus, B.E. 2004)
  103. Binayak Bhattacharya (Assistant Professor at Manipal University, JU Film Studies 2009)
  104. Muktak Kanjilal (Engineer, JU Electrical 2008)
  105. Ushasi Sen Basu (Author and Editor at JU English Department, JU alumna B.A. and M.A., 1998-2003)
  106. Barnita Bagchi (Comparative Literature Senior Researcher and Lecturer at Utrecht University, Netherlands. JU alumna Department of English, 1992-1995).
  107. Senjuti Mukherjee (Editor at Serendipity Arts Foundation, JU Comparative Literature 2008-11)
  108. Sebanti Banerjee (Architect and MEP Engineer, JU alumna Dept. of Architecture 2008-2013)


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