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On (My) Caste

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University of Toronto Associate Professor Kuldeep Meel

"There was always fear of what would . . . someone on [a] tenure evaluation committee think of me if they knew I belonged to OBC."

Credit: University of Toronto

Allow me to introduce you to one of the largest population groups in India, as recognized by the constitution of India: Other Backward Classes, estimated to comprise 40-to-45% of India's population, or 1 in 16 people in the world. OBCs have historically been socio-economically disadvantaged.

The purpose of this post is three-fold: 1.) re-claim my identity in its entirety; 2.) inform the broader public; and 3.) reach out to someone searching for an OBC who "made" it in academia.

It is, perhaps, appropriate to address the elephant in the room: I belong to OBC Category.

An uninitiated might be forgiven for not realizing that caste-based discrimination is rampant in India, even among faculty members at IITs. As a professor at a public university, I feel I ought to inform broader public about the lack of representation of OBCs. I can summarize the lack of representation with the help of a claim that I believe is true: There are at most five tenure-track faculty who belong to OBC category among all the faculty members in North America's "top" 50 CS departments.

From Kuldeep S. Meel
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