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This is how they’re killing the Indian university


Our campuses face the biggest threat from the Sangh Parivar, which is out to stifle the free atmosphere.

Central University of Jharkhand (CUJ) associate professor Shreya Bhattacharji seems to be the latest target of the Sangh Parivar. She was suspended from the university by vice-chancellor Nand Kumar Yadav for having invited retired professor MN Panini of the Centre for the Study of Social Systems, School of Social Sciences, Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) to a CUJ event as the guest of honour.

In Bhattacharji’s suspension letter, Panini was identified as the mentor of the “anti-national” students from the JNU who face sedition charges, and was described as a person of disputed integrity, when it is a fact that Panini is now a distinguished professor at the Centre of Excellence for Sustainable Business Innovations, MYRA School of Business, Karnataka and was not associated with recent events at the JNU.

The CUJ authorities panicked when governor Draupadi Murmu cancelled a programme in which she was to share the dais with Panini, and now the V-C is saying that he had received threats for disrupting Panini’s lecture and having cancelled the invitation to him.

With charges against the JNU students remaining unproved, false charges are now being levelled against Panini and Bhattacharji. As an academic, Panini is concerned with rising inequalities in the process of economic growth, and Bhattacharji was the dean of the School of Languages, School of Education and the dean of students’ welfare at the CUJ.

Quite clearly, she was an outstanding academic as well as an able administrator. The V-C may think that the image of the university was tarnished and reputation of the V-C was put at stake by extending invitation to Panini, but the reality is that the V-C himself has damaged the reputation of not one, but two frontline academics, and vitiated the atmosphere on the campus as well as the country by bowing to the pressure of the Sangh Parivar.

A systematic process of “purge” at the country’s universities is already becoming evident, with professor Binda Paranjape of the Banaras Hindu University (BHU) being prevented from becoming the head of the History department, though it was her turn, going by the rules, and Aruna Sinha being made the head for the third time against the provisions of the BHU Act.

Corruption charges have been proved against Sinha in the past. The reason for her appointment was to pave the way for recruitment of people associated with the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh at the BHU.

Of the two research students under Sinha who have been appointed assistant professors, one – Brijesh – was accused of harassment by female students of the Mahila Mahavidyalaya inside the BHU where he used to teach earlier. The other – Gyan Prakash Mishra – has been appointed as associate professor in the department of Journalism and Mass Communication without a PhD in the field or the required eight years of teaching experience.

He is known for his proximity to the former Union human resources development minister Murali Manohar Joshi. V-C Girish Chandra Tripathi who is currently overseeing all these irregularities at the BHU doesn’t himself have an academic record to boast of.

People don’t know when he taught last at the Allahabad University, where he held a faculty position in the Economics department, or did any research. A similar controversial appointment was that of Gajendra Chauhan as chairman of the Film and Television Institute of India (FTII), which has been vehemently opposed by the campus community. Chauhan has not distinguished himself in any field of cinema which makes him eminent enough to head that institution.

Amit Sengupta, a distinguished journalist and senior faculty at the Indian Institute of Mass Communication (IIMC) had to resign after he was transferred to faraway Dhenkanal district of Odisha. I believe he was targeted for having supported student protests at the FTII, Hyderabad Central University (HCU) and JNU.

Two professors, KY Ratnam and Tathagata Sengupta, were among the 27 arrested from the HCU campus after protests against the return of V-C Appa Rao Podile against whom an FIR has been filed for abetment to Rohith Vemula’s suicide under the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act.

Retired professor Chaman Lal’s lecture on Bhagat Singh at the JNU was disrupted by Akhil Bhartiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) activists on March 18 and his attempt to engage the protestors in dialogue failed. Chaman Lal has authored a book Understanding Bhagat Singh.

Researcher Bela Bhatia is now being targeted because she has helped several tribal women file FIRs against security personnel for gang rape and grievous sexual assault in Chhattisgarh. She is a PhD from Cambridge University and faculty member at the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS).

From the above-listed events we can see that the BJP rule has brought about a destruction of the academic atmosphere in campuses of centrally-governed institutions. It has led to the filling up of important positions with people associated with the RSS, but those with doubtful capabilities or character. It has also led to the hounding or harassment of competent academics. This is set to lower the academic standards of our institutions that are already mediocre when compared internationally.

A BHU professor of political science associated with the RSS, Kaushal Kishore Mishra, was arrested for instigating an attack on Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader Somnath Bharti during the campaign for the last general elections in Varanasi.

While these people have always openly indulged in political activities, violence and holding RSS shakhas on campuses, they have now started targeting people who believe in ideologies different from theirs, accusing them of politicising campuses.

Our campuses face the biggest threat from the Sangh Parivar at the moment, which is out to ruin them in its bid to take control, stifling the free atmosphere that is critical for rational enquiry. Why would it bother the RSS that Nobel laureate Venkatraman Ramakrishnan has decided not to attend the Indian Science Congress (which he described as a circus) ever again as he objECTED TO  politica and relgiosu i

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