The university is a highly politicized and fractious realm for students and academics. Amidst trade-offs between the processes of massification, democratization, commodification, and globalization, the question of transformation for sustainability has become crucial to the social good(s) of higher education. This paper considers academic citizenry within Indian public higher education — a context where the increase in the enrollment of first-generation students and female students, due to affirmative action policies, has not substantially translated into altering the composition of academic staff. Informed by a mixed-method study conducted in 2019 with the participation of academics and those in leadership positions at four higher education institutions, we found that the enactment of such policies was operationalized for the production of the “New Middle Class” by universities. Of concern is that neither the representation nor the participation of academics who are women, “lower” castes, or minorities meets the mark of just, inclusive institutions. Despite the rhetoric of inclusiveness and development, the implementation of related policies clothe subalterns with the veneer of the intellectual class, permitting access on condition that sociocultural identities are concealed, and the hegemonic status quo maintained. Terms such as “quality” and “equality” function as tools for social control rather than serving social justice, where assertions of caste identity and resistance are simultaneously repudiated and misrecognized.