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Unrest in our Universities

By   /  October 10, 2017  /  Comments Off on Unrest in our Universities

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What is going on in our universities? Routinely news of disturbances are being reported from the seats of learning. An educational institution should be in the news for its academic excellence. Unfortunately, these days our universities are catching headlines for reasons other than academics. Be it country’s premier educational institution Jawaharlal Lal Nehru University (JNU) or Hyderabad University (HU) down south, from every educational institution all over the country news of unrest is coming out on regular basis.
It all started with the suicide of Rohit Vemula, a research scholar in Hyderabad University. The committee set up by the government to ascertain what prompted the promising student to take such extreme step in its report blamed personal reasons ruling out any sorts of abetment. But according to insiders that is not true. According to them Rohit committed suicide after being disappointed with the attitude of university authorities, which took steps that threatened his academic pursuit. Rohit’s fault was that he entered in to a scuffle with some fellow students known as the supporters of a right wing students’ organisation. Demanding action against Rohit for his involvement in the incident, one former union minister not only put pressure on the university authorities, but also wrote a letter to the then union HRD minister to take strict action against him. The insiders allege that since the intervention of the union minister, the authorities worked overtime to put Rohit in trouble and that led to his suicide. After the Vemula incident, the infamous JNU incident happened. Charges of sedition were slapped on couple of students including the students’ union president Kanhiya Kumar. They were not only arrested but also were beaten by few lawyers inside the courtroom. There was huge uproar against the incident. The campus was tense for months. Academic activities came to a standstill. The prevailing tensions further escalated when Nejeeb went missing from university hostel after a heated argument with some students. Again the hand of a right wing students’ union is suspected behind Najeeb disappearance. At the same time we should not forget what happened in Kashmir NIT or FTTI in Pune.
Many may attribute the series of disturbances in our universities due to a particular right wing students’ organisation to gain foothold where it has very little or no presence at all. But that is not the sole reason. Partisan attitude of the authorities and faculties are to be blamed equally. In the recent incident at Benaras Hindu University (BHU), failure of the vice chancellor to ensure safety and security of girl students was very evident. What prevented the vice chancellor to take necessary measures no one knew? He even declined to meet the agitating girl students and later termed the incident which sparked the unfortunate event as a case of eve teasing, not of molestation. Such people may be good in academics but clearly not eligible to run the administration. Treating BHU incidents as an eye-opener, the government should do well not to consider political loyalties as an added qualification for such appointments. Otherwise, like Prime Minister Narendra Modi, our future prime ministers too have to lament over the absence of Indian universities even in the list of top 500 universities of the world.

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