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Targetting of Dalit Student at TISS by RSS supporters Hosting Talk by Rajiv Malhotra

Sonali Waghmare
While TISS campus was reverberating with slogans against Brahminwaad and highhandedness of HRD ministry and Hyderbad Central University administration on 25th January, posters and banners of an event by Rajiv Malhotra titled ‘Sanskrit and Sanskriti’ appeared on TISS main campus gate announcing the event.
On 27th of January around 10 pm TISS students received an email invitation to a talk organised by ‘a group of students’ titled ‘Breaking India: Return of Colonialism inside India through Intellectual Elite’. Neither the banners nor emailed event posters mentioned the organisers or moderator of the event. It may be noted that there was no invitation sent to the TISS faculty, perhaps deliberately as it is clear from the ensuing programme that there was no agenda for academic discussion or engagement.
In the India itinerary posted on his website Malhotra it was declared that he had received an invitation to the TISS by the Students’ Union. This was officially denied by the Students’ Union subsequently. The Director, has been quoted on Malhotra’s blog site as having given permission for the event to a group of students, clarifying that it was not organised by the Students’ Union.
Most of the attendees consisted of outsiders and uniformed policemen were posted outside the venue doors. It appears that the ‘presence of goons’ was planned for and perhaps planted?
The speaker spoke at length about America and what he described as American Orientalism. He spoke of how British orientalism has been replaced by American orientalism although the period of colonialism was officially over. The speaker did not speak a word about the Indian context, or his latest book titled ‘The Battle for Sanskrit’ or about Indian philosophy.
At the end of the lecture several students raised their hands to ask questions but questions were discouraged after a TISS PhD student raised the issue of plagiarism having been proved against him. The lengthy response to the plagiarism issue included justification such as wanting to keep intact his good relationship with his publisher, mention of the plagiarised author 32 times in the text instead of 35 as should have been done and the inadvertent disappearance of formatting when he cut-pasted pages of his book before sending it to his publisher.
On 30th January around 3 a.m TISS faculty received a mail from a Dalit student forwarded by a faculty member at TISS, with the accusation that participants from outside who were present at Rajiv Malhotra’s event passed casteist remarks to the effect that his way of questioning was clearly that of a lower caste (SC). The student sought intervention from TISS faculty and administration.

Subject: Seeking your intervention in false Complaint against me
Respected Sir,

This is to bring in your notice, that yesterday (29/01/2016) there was an incidence taken place in the talk organized by the few students at Old Conference hall, main campus Mumbai. Dr. Rajiv Malhotra, a right wing writer delivered talk on the topic “Breaking India: Return of colonialism inside India trough Indian Intellectual Elite”. The majority audience were from outside, few of our student also attended the talk. I also attended same with few of my other friends.

During the talk I had some questions, when I asked the question a lady sitting beside me asked why you are asking question with such energy, I didn’t pay much attention, then she asked me “what is your caste? you must be belongs to lower caste (SC)”, Still I didn’t say anything to this lady and moved further and started asking question. Then she started shouting on me saying that “you lower caste people are bull-shit who always shout, you do not have manners of how to behave in academics’ spaces”.
After that when we were walking from the hall, one of my friends asked that lady why you were shouting and asking Amol‘s caste. But she didn’t reply on that.

Then our students started giving slogans that RSS go back due to ongoing controversies and the organizers attitude in hall. Soon after that, the RSS workers who participated from outside given the slogan of RSS Jindabad! RSS Jindabad! In response to that our student also give the slogan of RSS go back. During that one of the student from organizing team was taking a video of slogans, a another student asked that boy to stop taking same. During that I was standing there.

However, now I got know that one girl named Sumati Thusu MA IInd Year from Women Center Social Work TISS Mumbai have filed a complaint in the Tromby Police Station. I learn that she has filed case under section 354 that covers molestation. But the reality, I don’t know that girl, never speak nor had any interaction. During the slogans and counter slogans, I have not seen her there. But got to know that she has file falls complaint against me giving reference of above mentioned incidence.
Therefore this kind request you to look in to the issue it need your kind intervention.
Thanking you

Yours Sincerely


Social media pages maintained by Rajiv Malhotra and his supporters accused the Dalit TISS student of manhandling a fellow TISS student during the event. Refuting these charges the Dalit student tried to draw the attention of the TISS faculty and administration to the incident of caste abuse that he had to face at the event and how a false case of molestation has been filed against him.  Although TISS faculty members have expressed their solidarity to Hyderabad students in the recent case where a Dalit student committed suicide (institutional murder), in case of their own student not a single faculty member has responded to the mail of the Dalit studen

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