Savitribai Phule Pune University (SPPU) authoririties announced suspension of the Shelar Mama gold medal award till criteria of the awardee to be a vegeterian provision in not cancelled.
Nitin Karmalkar said, " The award will not be given till the criteria of the awardee being a vegetarian and teetotaller are not canceled by the sponsoring entity."
In a bid to ensure that no discriminatory provisions were included in their eligibility criteria, Karmalkar emphasized that all the 40 scholarships/awards sponsored by private bodies or individuals for the university students would also be reviewed.
In 2006, Shelar family had endorsed the criteria which also drew disparagement and denouncement by the public. Since then, the criteria have been in books.
Addressing a news conference at the main building of the university, Karmalkar said, "The award was instituted in the honour of yoga guru Ramchandra Gopal Shelar, who was a kirtan exponent — a disciple of Saint Gadge Maharaj and believed in vegetarianism.
That can be the reason why the family laid down the condition... It was given regularly until last year. But now, we are suspending it with immediate effect."
Karmalkar claimed that university believed in the constitution and did not discriminate among students.
"Now that it has been brought to my notice that such a condition is leading to discrimination and unrest on the campus and society, I have suspended the award. Not only this (Shelar Mama) award but all the 40 scholarships given by various private parties to varsity students will be reviewed thoroughly for any discriminatory eligibility criteria.
We cannot allow anything that goes against the ethos of the Constitution," the vice-chancellor said.
He claimed that his office was trying to contact the members of the Shelar family so that the conditions could be removed. "If the family removes the discriminatory criteria, then we will allow the award. Otherwise, we will suspend it permanently.
According to the vice-chancellor, the management council in 2005 had allowed the award. He defended the role of the present management claiming that the latter, in its pursuit to maintain transparency and accountability in the working of the university, was uploading everything on the web, thereby, bringing the issues to public notice.
"It is a good thing that we put everything online. This gave us a chance to rectify our mistake. We are a progressive university and do not believe in any superstition. A committee will be set up to review all the awards that are instituted in the future," Karmalkar added.
The Savitribai Phule Pune University (SPPU) in a circular, informed affiliated colleges and departments about a gold medal award, constituted in the name of Yog Maharshi Ramchandra Gopal Shelar, alias Shelar Mama for non-science streams postgraduate students for the academic year 2016-17 which incited the protest.