Click here to read issue #1 of Notes on the Academy, a magazine dedicated to a critical evaluation of academic institutions and culture. As we mention in our manifesto, academia is a diseased community. To diagnose this disease, we must both study its symptoms and analyse the sources of these symptoms.
To study the symptoms of the disease in any social community, we must listen to the stories of those most affected by it. So, we collect testimonials — anonymised accounts from people across the academy about their suffering. The present issue contains three testimonials. The first, “We Are No Longer Afraid,” is a document prepared by students at a prominent institute of higher education regarding the mishandling of the pandemic by their administration. The second and third, “The Subtle Problem of Exclusion” and “The Mine Field,” are the stories of individuals within academia.
To analyse the symptoms of the disease, it always helps to classify. Thus, we have chosen to include articles about casteism in our institutes. Since there is already a wealth of literature analysing this issue, our role here is merely to introduce you to this literature.
The first article, “The Spectre that Haunts Academia,” is a short summary of the classic ‘Thorat Report,’ a survey of casteism within AIIMS. The findings of this report are easily understood and we aim to make them accessible to you.
The second article is an invitation to the book Beyond Inclusion, an academic collection that studies the barriers faced by Dalit, Bahujan and Adivasi students once they get into higher education. The national debate is forcibly kept at the level of the desirability of reservations by the ruling classes, just as the international debate on climate change is forcibly kept at whether climate change exists at all. Reservations are obviously desirable, and this book studies the thornier questions about what happens after reservations.
Finally, “Storming the Ivory Tower” is a short invitation to Ajantha Subramanian’s The Caste of Merit. This book studies the mythology of exceptionalism surrounding the IITs, and how it dovetails with the casteist history of technical expertise in India.
We wish you happy reading.
The NotA Collective