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Press Release no.276 from the Government of Tamil Nadu
dated August 09, 2006

KALPANA CHAWLA AWARD TO DR.VASANTHA KANDASAMY
WHO FOUGHT FOR SOCIAL JUSTICE IN IIT

Every year, the Tamil Nadu Government has been giving an award for Courage and Daring Enterprise in the name of renowned space scientist Kalpana Chawla to a daring woman from Tamil Nadu.

The Chief Minister Kalaignar has announced that this year's Kalpana Chawla award will be given to Dr.W.B.Vasantha Kandasamy.

Dr.Vasantha Kandasamy is an extraordinary scientist and researcher in the field of mathematics. She has worked from 1987 for 17 years as a lecturer in the mathematics department of I.I.T. She has also guided several students to get the doctoral degree in Mathematics. Majority of the 14 mathematical books that she has authored have been published in America. She has written 2 books about AIDS awareness. It is worth mentioning that out of the 480 faculty members in IIT Madras, she is the only person who stressed that teachers must be recruited on the basis of social justice and carried on a struggle with the Institution.

The Chief Minister Kalaignar has announced that Dr.Vasantha Kandasamy has been bestowed the Kalpana Chawla award in appreciation for her exemplary intellectual contribution to mathematics and her mental strength to daringly fight with determination for the establishment of social justice. The Kalpana Chawla award given to Dr.Vasantha Kandasamy carries a cash prize of Rs.5 lakhs and a medal. This award shall be presented on the coming Independence Day.

Released by the Director, Department of Information and Public Relations, Chennai – 9.

Excerpts and Translations from News Items

“Speaking to this newspaper on Wednesday, the Mathematics expert said that she wants to start a Mathematics Institute for the oppressed and downtrodden sections of society. “Maths does not belong to only a particular section of the society, but also to other sections, particularly the oppressed and downtrodden,” she said.

Dr.Vasantha has authored three books on AIDS, published by the Tamil Nadu AIDS Control Society. She has also helped numerous persons affected by AIDS.
Dr.Vasantha has authored a book on Periyar, titled “Fuzzy and Neutrosophic Analysis of Periyar’s Views on Untouchability.” All her books are available on her website “www.vasantha.net” for free download, which she says will help students read them free of cost, instead of buying them.”

Deccan Chronicle, Chennai, Thursday, 10 August 2006

 

It is well known that in Chief Minister Kalaignar’s rule, right from the day of assuming power, all the electoral promises are being fulfilled at the speed of rockets. One can release a separate press release about the various fulfilled promises including the renowned schemes that have been implemented: One kilo of rice for two rupees, announcement that people of all castes can become priests, cancellation of farmer’s debts, two eggs per week in the nutritious noon-meal scheme, two acres of land for poor farmers and so on. More than that, he has placed ensured social-justice by making the people of the oppressed sections of society occupy key posts. Several Dalit and Backward Class IAS and IPS officers have been given important portfolios. The new Advocate General, Government Pleader belong to the backward sections of society. Likewise, even the member of the Public Service Commission is a Most Backward Caste.

More than all this, Honourable Dr.Kalaignar recently announced that the Kalpana Chawla Award (of 5 lakh rupees cash-prize and a medal) was to be given to backward caste Assistant Professor Dr. Mrs. Vasantha Kandasamy who has been the victim of injustice in the Chennai IIT for long years—any amount of praise of the Chief Minister and his Government will be worthy for this deed. Professor Vasantha Kandasamy is a fighter who has written more than 150 research papers in International journals, and has been the Ph.D guide of numerous students, and written several books, and she has got acclaim the world over.

Dravidar Kazhagam President Dr.K. Veeramani’s Press Release in the Viduthalai, 13 August 2006, Vol. 71, No.74

“There are more than 480 faculty members in Madras I.I.T. The number of faculty members belonging to downtrodden section is miserably low. Dauntlessly and relentlessly but single handedly she has been agitating for the cause of social justice in the institutions of national importance like I.I.T.

Marxist Periyarist Communist Party congratulates Prof.Vasantha Kandasamy on this memorable occasion.”

Periyar Era, September 2006, Vol.12, No.12


“I would not have been consoled if I had been given this award in recognition of my mathematical contributions. I would not have become so happy. In this country, nobody recognizes a person who is a ‘fighter’. They will merely move away from them. But Kalaignar has pushed aside all that, and has given this award to me by breaking the convention. When I think of that I whole heartedly praise that honourable man. […] Her father W. Balasubramaniam served as the headmaster of the Thondaimandala Thulluva Vellala Higher Secondary School in north Madras. She has 4 brothers and 5 sisters, 2 of them are not alive now. The rest of them made inter-caste marriages. Her husband Dr.Kandasamy has obtained five M.A. degrees in Tamil, History, Political Science, Saiva Siddhanta and Defence Studies. He has also obtained an M.Ed, M.Phil and Ph.D. Further, he has even got a D.Litt degree. […]

It seems Vasantha madam has not gone to any temple, nor have they followed rituals like ear-piercing and tonsuring. She says that I still have the hair I was born with. […]

Though she has risen to this greatness, she says, “Students and faculty from the backward classes who are talented do not get the rightful share in employment in educational institutions, so they are pushed back. I have been fighting for the past 18 years in the IIT demanding that they should get the 27% reservation for Backward classes.

Devi, 23.08.2006, Vol.28, No.19


“Sanskrit was her second language in college.

When we asked her about the Kalpana Chawla Award, she happily says, “I am glad that I have been accepted as a fighter. It makes me more mentally strong to know that I have been recognized for my courage in an unconventional manner.”

Kungumam, 20.08.2006, Vol. 29, No.35

“Have any of your students who obtained Ph.D. under your guidance received a honour at the national level?

In the year 1997, a Dalit student named Kannan had come from Virudhunagar for pursuing his Ph.D. in Mathematics. After a major struggle, he could get a seat in IIT. Three years later, that Dalit student Kannan was called as an invitee to a scientific conference that took place in New Delhi. That was a major conference: the Indian National Science Congress and it took place at the national capital. That year, 38 people submitted their research papers.

The Dalit student Kannan’s research paper was selected for the first prize for the Best Paper Award. The other 37 people who participated were Professors from reputed educational institutions—this is the most notable point! Majority of the students who obtained Ph.D. under my guidance are first generation learners.

“Are all the books that you have written related to your mathematical field?”

Majority of the books are mathematical. That too, they are books that make use of mathematics to benefit the other walks of life. Mathematics can be used to control satellites, it can also be used to tell to the world the feelings of the people affected by AIDS.

“Please tell us about the books on AIDS that have been authored by you?”

With the support of the Tamil Nadu State AIDS Control Society, I have authored two research books in English on AIDS. The book Love.Life.Lust.Loss dealt with the life-stories of the migrant workers who were affected by AIDS. In this book the emotions of 101 migrant labourers who are living with AIDS has been captured. Another book is about women who are affected by AIDS. It is titled Women. Work. Worth. Womb. Even in this book the feelings of these women has been recorded in a mathematical way. Feelings cannot be recorded in mere numbers. When they came to know that they had been affected by the disease… When they were taking treatment for the disease… When they were ostracized by the society… To know their feelings at such various points of time, this book will be helpful. Out of numerous questions, we asked only the necessary questions to the patients and we listed out their reactions to our questions: silence, anger, frustration—this will help the medical research into AIDS. This method of mathematics is called Fuzzy theory.

“You would have done a lot of fieldwork for these two books. What are the facets that you could uncover because of your research?”

Majority of the migrant workers who are infected by AIDS are men. That too, a vast majority of these migrant workers are drivers and those involved in heavy, manual labour. Many men are over-confident about their masculinity. They had the faith that no matter what they did, no matter how many illicit affairs they had, nothing would harm them. When we interviewed these AIDS patients we could observe that they had such feelings. Likewise, majority of them don’t have great concern about their families. They have the arrogance that they are the bread-winners of the family. They are irresponsible towards their families; they keep bad company and consequently develop several bad habits; poverty—these are the major reasons that lead them to acquire AIDS. Majority of those who were affected belong to the 31-34 age group. That is, they would have had illicit sexual relations in the age of 21-24. That is the reason why they are now disease-ridden. As far as women are concerned 90% of them have been infected with this disease by their husbands.

“How to understand fuzzy theory easily? To what other research topics are you using Fuzzy theory?”

One can say that fuzzy theory is a generalization of the probability theory that you learnt in ninth or tenth standards. If you toss a coin it can either be ‘head’ or ‘tail’ in probability. But in rare cases, the coin might roll and go on and stand without falling either way. That is fuzzy logic. My books related to mathematics, can be freely downloaded from the site www.vasantha.net

Dinamani Kathir, 20.08.2006, Vol.73, No.240

Vasantha Kandasamy! An Assistant Professor of Mathematics at the IIT madras. She has written 26 research books, published 632 research papers, she has guided 15 students for the Ph.D. degree, and 51 students for post-graduate research projects. To such an extraordinary mathematician, there’s another feather in her cap: she has been awarded the Kalpana Chawla Award by the Tamil Nadu Government. In what manner does Dr.Vasantha deserve it?

Dr.Priyakumar is an Associate Professor in the Tharangampadi Bishop Manickam Luther College. He obtained his doctoral degree under the guidance of Dr.Vasantha Kandasamy. “I was born in an ordinary agricultural family. IIT is a new world that shocks rural and Dalit students. The situation prevailing there will take these students to develop inferiority complex and will affect them psychologically. Dr.Vasantha Kandasamy provides self-confidence to such people. She has written more than 10 books on the modern concept of Fuzzy theory. She is a world-renowned mathematician, but she has not been given due recognition in India. When there were expectations that she will receive the Bhatnagar award, which is India’s biggest scientific honour, it was given to an unqualified person at the last minute. It was a major shock. Though she has been affected by mental tension, she has been bravely working for the weaker sections of society. It is absolutely right that she has been given the Kalpana Chawla award,” says Priyakumar.

“I studied ‘Coding Theory’ for my Ph.D. degree. There are very few teachers like Dr.Vasantha madam who teaches everything very patiently. She has a daring personality, but at the same time she has a mind that is as calm as the deep seas. Once, Dr.Vasantha Kandasamy carried out research for the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO). At first the help from ISRO was on a small scale, later they had the intention of giving a major grant, so they sent their experts to IIT. But IIT refused the support from ISRO questioning the connection between Mathematics and Space Research. Though she is completely qualified to become a Professor, they still retain her as an Assistant Professor. We have not given her the due recognition. She fights with an exemplary courage for all the attacks that are made upon her. Several more awards await her,” says Dr.Selvaraj who is a lecturer in the SSN Engineering College and Dr.Rajadurai, a lecturer in the Vellore Institute of Technology who spoke to us next are students of Dr.Vasantha Kandasamy.

“Vasantha Kandasamy works in full vigour to ensure that everybody gets all the rights, and that equality must prevail. Though she is a world-renowned mathematician, she is very humble. Her only wealth is her great intellect. Her daring and her tireless struggle are worthy of praise. If another person had been in her position, they would have gone to foreign universities to increase the weight of their purses. She has ignored offers abroad and continues to work here, because of her attachment to poor and rural students. The IIT administration should honour her. She struggles continuously without being affected by anything. This award will further sharpen her struggle and enthuse her,” says Rajadurai.

Kalki, 10.09.2006, Vol.65, No.6


“The struggle for social justice waged in the IIT Madras by Dr.Vasantha Kandasamy are moving. Not only those who know her, but even those who do not know her, would have known about her struggle.

Vasantha Kandasamy raised questions with plenty of evidence—even the last fool would have come to know how many Dalits or BC community people worked as Professors in the IIT Madras. This is the question she asked 15 years back when she joined IIT Madras as an Assistant Professor unable to bear it. It was not a question she asked, it was a fire she set ablaze. The Institute did not have any reply to her questions.

Though she has been insulted and disregarded by the IIT administration, she continues to work for the oppressed sections of society. If she wants she can leave abroad next month to a rich, foreign country. She firmly says, “But why should I run abroad leaving my country, and people like me, because of fear due to them, or for the sake of money? If I do like that in a manner which gives happiness to the enemies of the majority of people in this country, how will the struggle of Periyar and Ambedkar and others be strengthened? That is why I keep waging a struggle at my level.” Several leaders in Tamil Nadu strongly support her struggle for social justice and reservation in the IITs.

In these circumstances, the Tamil Nadu government bestowed the Kalpana Chawla award to her in recognition of her tireless struggle for social justice, to appreciate her mathematical talent that has surprised the world, and to praise her for preparing backward class students to become experts in research.

As far as Vasantha Kandasamy is concerned, it can be said that this award is not just a recognition for her work, but a medicine for her long-standing wounds.”

Penne Nee, September 2006, Vol.5, No.8

Vasantha Kandasamy could not bear to see this injustice take place in front of her eyes. She resolved to fight for social justice. So, she had to suffer several sorrows. “In 1990, when everybody got promotion, even I became an Assistant Professor. After that 16 years have passed, but I remain in the same post. In the interim period, I was given the post of Associate Professor. Because of a case that I filed against the IIT Madras, they don’t address me as an Associate Professor even for namesake,” says Dr.Vasantha. She has been insulted during official meetings. At times people have barged into her office room and shown lewd gestures, or talked vulgarly and ran off. The grill-gates that are normally used for fear of theft have been put up in her room to protect her. Today, it remains as an inerasable symbol in her quest for social justice.

But Vasantha adds with passion, “No matter how many obstacles come, nothing can stop my journey to establish social justice.” In the midst of all this torture she has authored 632 research papers, 26 books. According to the American Mathematical Reviews which publishes compiled lists of research articles in Mathematics, Dr.Vasantha has the highest number of papers.

What does she say about getting the Kalpana Chawla award? “In general, no government will recognize a fighter. But Kalaignar’s government has recognized me. To have given me the award is an unconventional act. I express my gratitude. I would not have become so happy even if I had received the award for mathematical research. I am proud that my struggle has been rewarded. I will fight even more daringly,” says Dr.Vasantha in a resolute voice.

Though she was promoted to the post of Associate Professor, she is given only the salary of an Assistant Professor, stays not in a quarters for the faculty, but only in the D-type staff quarters.”

Dinakaran, 13 August 2006, Tamil Nadu’s largest selling daily newspaper with a circulation of 10 million copies.

“What connection can be there between a professor and an award for courage and daring enterprise?” so we met Vasantha madam.

“I am a very strict teacher, discipline is very important to me. But the amount of strictness I show when I deal with students, the same amount of enthusiasm I will show in fighting for their problems. I have fought and got admission for several meritorious students who keep yearning to join IIT. They have gone to several foreign countries: America, Germany, Japan, France and they are well-settled. Can a teacher ask for greater happiness?” says Dr.Vasantha who has undertaken another major struggle: teachers must be appointed in IITs on the basis of social justice.

It is 17 years since Dr.Vasantha joined IIT Madras. Her struggle for rights in the IIT Madras is also 17 years old. “Yes, when I joined IIT, all the cuckoos in the campus were going to be shot dead because the director found it a disturbance. At that time itself, I fought against it and prevented it. That was the day when all this started! After that the problems for social welfare started coming to me, I thought that it was my duty to fight,” says Dr.Vasantha.

Aval Vikatan, 1 September 2006, Vol.8, No.24

“There are six IITs in India. One of them is the IIT Madras. The Central Government sets apart a sum of Rs.1000 crores for these Institutions. The Chennai IIT is situated in the heart of the city in an area of 300 acres. It was the then Chief Minister Kamaraj who ensured that this IIT came to Chennai through his great efforts. With what lofty intentions he brought this Institute to Chennai, all those intentions have been smashed. This institute functions under the Ministry of Human Resources Development of the Central Government, but nobody can question it.”

Two years after I joined IIT, in 1990, all the lecturers in the Indian Institute of Technology were promoted to the post of Assistant Professor by a government order. At that time, even I became an Assistant Professor. That is the first and last promotion that I have received in the IITs. Even in this promotion, none of the increments that I had earned earlier were joined to my salary.

I submitted an interesting mathematical project to the Indian Space Research Organization about satellite communication and coding theory. I had asked for a grant of Rs.7.77 lakhs. After a lot of delay, the IIT allotted only 1 lakh from the said amount for me to continue my research. They did not give an extension, or remainder of the amount granted to me by ISRO. Next, I submitted a proposal to a team of space scientists about mathematically formulating a technique that will enable us to have a system of coding theory on par with NASA. But the then Director prevented me from discussing it before the committee.

Not only was I subjected to this harassment, but several more. All IIT faculty members are given telephone connections to their residences and office by the IIT administration itself. But the telephone instruments placed in my residence and office were removed and taken away by the institute. Till today, I have not been given a phone. But wantonly they have published two fake numbers under my name in the Chennai City Telephone Directory and the IIT Phonebook. Likewise, the employees of IIT are allotted quarters on the basis of their seniority. But discrimination against me has taken place even in this.

The reservation policy must be implemented. They have boycotted me and not given me any promotion for the past 18 years for the sole reason that I voiced my support to the demand that Backward and Dalit students and faculty must be admitted to the IIT. That boycott continues even today. But still, I am not afraid. I do not lose faith. I keep fighting continuously. This is not a struggle that takes place for a promotion, or for my individual benefit or for my salary hike. I don’t need any of that. A particular caste alone experiences the privileges of IIT, as if they have taken it on a complete lease. They enjoy 100% reservation. This is my struggle for social justice against that. I am fighting as an individual woman ever since the day I joined the Institute.

I will not say that I have attained complete victory in my struggle. But I will say that I have achieved victory to some level. I have taken up the cause for justice in my hands. If we demand justice itself, we will only get into difficulties. I keep suffering. But I will struggle to the end. I will fight till the day of my retirement. My fighting spirit will never stop.

But no matter how many hindrances I face, I can bear it all. They gave us many problems. I bore everything. Even now they continue to harass me. These difficulties will not do anything to me. The difficulties that they give me are my stepping stones. I will not fear anything,” as she says this we can understand her fighting spirit. Because of such troubles, sorrows and threats, I am unable to send my girl children to college, and I am making them study through correspondence.

“I have written more than 70 letters about the injustice that is meted out to me addressed right from then President Shankar Dayal Sharma and then Prime Minister P.V.Narasimha Rao to current President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam. But no reply has come about leave alone the solution. Today, the demand for 27% reservation in Institutions of higher learning has become strong. The Central Government must reserve this 27% of seats to the Backward classes. This is the need of the hour and it is inevitable,” says this woman fighter who struggles for social justice.

Devi, 30.08.2006, Vol.28, No.20

 

 

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