"There is something amiss in the notice. The classes are meant for all students from rural backgrounds - and not just for SC/ST students -- and were conducted last year too," Prasad said.
The SC/ST students demanded that the notice be withdrawn and that the IIT should issue an apology. "It is demeaning. I am not sure anymore that I want to go to IIT Delhi," Rajesh Kumar, an SC candidate said. "SC/ST students may need academic assistance, but suggesting that by virtue of their caste or tribe they are less socially equipped to handle the IIT environment is demeaning," Kumar added.
These special classes are to be conducted by the Centre for Research and Education for Social Transformation (CREST). The classes will help SC/ST students "develop social skills, orientation and ability to adapt to the environment at IIT Delhi," the notice states.
Prasad insisted that the notice was not put up with the intention to humiliate the SC/ST caste students nor to hurt their sentiments.
The IITs set cut-offs for SC/ST students based not on the performance of students from these categories, but at 10% lower than cut-offs for general category students. This procedure has for years led to SC/ST quota seats going vacant, as students who ranked high enough among their category to get the seat did not clear the cut-offs - based on the performance of general category students.
But the IITs have not needed to hold any preparatory classes for SC students for the past two years - because enough SC students have cleared the cut-off set for them to fill all quota seats. The number of ST students needing preparatory classes has also dipped in recent years.