Anarchists stoking campus unrest – K. G. Suresh

AISA at JNU

K. G. SureshPseudo intellectuals who have made a fortune through the liberal largesse of successive governments in the past, are finding themselves cornered today with the new regime strictly implementing academic discipline and norms. – K. G. Suresh

A planned, deliberate exercise is being undertaken by sections of frustrated, desperate and ideologically isolated faculty and students to denigrate and destabilise prestigious educational institutions, including universities, across the country. That these anarchist elements, who have enjoyed the fruits of power over the last several decades at the cost of academic discipline, accountability and standards, are becoming unnerved by the loss of their empire, is evident from the artificial protests and propaganda being unleashed from time to time ever since a new dispensation has taken over the reins at the Raisina Hill.

From Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) in the north and Film and Television Institute of India in the west, to Hyderabad University in the south and Jadavpur University in the east, these elements have been trying to foment trouble and orchestrate campaigns over flimsy issues to project the government and its appointees as anti-Dalit, anti-women and anti-minorities, in connivance with fellow travellers in the media.

The pattern is the same. The foot soldiers of an ideology, which carried out the inhuman purge in Russia, the ruthless cultural revolution in China, the ethnic cleansing in Tibet, the gross human rights violations in Siberia and Xinjiang, the suppression of democracy by crushing students under military tanks in Tiananmen Square, have become ironically the self-proclaimed champions of democracy and human rights in India.

From Gajendra Chauhan to Pahlaj Nihalani and B. B. Kumar, among others, all appointees of the present regime are portrayed as ‘mediocre’, agents of the RSS and accused of saffronisation. The spit-and-run tactics of these foreign-funded activists in the garb of academics and students include making wild, sweeping, unsubstantiated allegations the moment any effort is made to make them accountable or disciplined.

They are trying to build a new narrative—that students should be consulted before the appointment of any head of the institution, and administration should not take any decision without taking faculty into confidence, even on non-academic matters. Any effort to make them accountable, including insistence on biometric attendance, is outrightly rejected. Any attempt to get vacated their long-held positions or ineligible occupation of hostels are construed as undemocratic acts, and licence to abuse is touted as freedom of speech and expression.

These pseudo intellectuals, who have made a fortune through the liberal largesse of successive governments in the past, are finding themselves cornered today with the new regime strictly implementing academic discipline and norms.

Over the years, they had penetrated every institution thanks to undeserving patronage extended to them by their godfathers. In the process, they also ensured that those who disagreed with their world view were denied their due. Being a nationalist became the albatross around the neck of many deserving academics. Nobody talked about their freedom of thought and expression—their academic freedom. They were at the receiving end in academic appointments and promotions. The nation’s academia was dominated by a mafia, which determined their fate and pushed them into the netherworld with contempt and ruthlessness.

The current protests and propaganda are only acts of desperation by these so-called scholars who have realised that their time is over, their game is up and the golden days of their dominance over national institutions are no more. The crusade undertaken by institutions such as JNU to remove the scourge of political untouchability, discrimination and apartheid that have been pursued over the last several decades, must be appreciated by all right-thinking people and supported by the government. Only then can Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s dream of a New India be fully realised. – The New Indian Express, 16 July 2017

» K. G. Suresh is the Director General of the Indian Institute of Mass Communication in New Delhi.

AISA anti-national protest at JNU

De-recognition of APSC in IIT Madras: The Unspoken Side – Some IITM Students

Indian Institute of Technology Madras

Swami VivekanandaThe Ambedkar Periyar Study Circle (APSC) has been de-recognised for the simple reason that they did not follow standard procedures common for all such institute bodies while conducting their activities. We, a few students of IITM, are saddened by the fact that a straightforward debate based on facts has not occurred on this issue. – Some IITM Students

Ambedkar Periyar Study Circle LogoFor the last few days, we have witnessed a media spectacle around the issue of IIT Madras de-recognising a body called Ambedkar Periyar Study Circle (APSC). While IITM has tried to set the facts clear with an official statement, the initial media reports which twisted the truth and the subsequent statements to the media that stretched it further, have created quite a different perception of the whole issue in people’s minds. We, a few students of IITM are saddened by these developments, by the fact that a straightforward debate based on facts has not occurred on this issue and that the media is pursuing spectacular and outlandish statements instead of the truth. They are ready to hear only one side of the story and hence, we would like to set this straight. We, as students of the institute, have some concern for what’s happening in it, and the perception of the institute held by the people. Therefore, we are writing this article.

There are numerous student bodies, functioning in the institute, which foster debates on socio-economic and political issues. The institute funds these organizations covering their day to day running costs, allows the usage of the institute infrastructure for their running, and these organizations are allowed to use the name of the institute and the logo in their official communications. In return they are expected to follow certain guidelines for their activities. This is made to ensure that no political or offensive statements or activities are carried out by these organizations. While this has been described as the death of freedom of speech in the institute, this is merely done because the institute which funds these organizations sees them as a part of the institute and anything that they say are seen as directly attributable to IITM which, at the end of the day, is a government institute.

There have been instances where speakers from outside the institute have taken a political stand on issues but not the student body themselves. This being said, let us also emphasize on the fact that unlike most other colleges in India, IIT Madras does not allow political activities within its campus. While discussion on political activities have never been discouraged, and debates happen constantly on most issues, outright political activity is something that the institute has not tolerated and we’ve been better off because of that.

APSC was formed as a student body in April, last year with the motto of initiating discussions on ‘Socio-political-cultural’ issues. While they have been maintaining that what they do has always been to foster a debate among the students regarding these issues, it is really obvious that they have been acting from day one with a clear political agenda. This can be seen from the way their posters and pamphlets are written and from the way the debates are conducted. While there is nothing wrong in taking a stand on issues relating to the political sphere and in individual students protesting against what they see as State overreach, the issue reaches the point of precipitation when an organization funded and provided for by the institute takes a blatant political position and tries to drive a wedge among the students.

To understand the political nature of this body, take a look at the email that was sent across for a debate on ‘Language Politics in India’ or the position taken by them on the issue ‘Name Boards – A Hindi(u)tva Project’: 

Ambedkar Periyar Study Circle

While there is nothing wrong in taking a stand on an individual issue and fostering a debate on it, it is a violation of the trust that the institute places in you when you use it for political gains; as is happening here, obvious to even a layman. Statements such as the government is acting with a ‘fascist, Hindutva agenda’ and that the ‘Government is trying to selling mother India to the corporates’ hardly qualify as statements that foster a debate, as opposed to what the APSC says. See the poster ‘Contemporary Relevance of Ambedkar’:

Ambedkar-Periyar Study Circle, IIT, Madras

While the guidelines set by the institute certainly have to be followed on these issues, there is also a question of decorum during debates. There is an unwritten rule in India that during debates, we try to avoid hurting the sentiments of any group. While this in no way should impede a debate on relevant issues, and while this should not stifle a healthy discussion on issues related to rights of individuals, it should never reach a level of indecency where one’s calling for the death of a particular religion. This has happened within debates of APSC against Hinduism and this is condemnable no matter which religion they are making such statements against.

Additionally, while speaking for ‘oppressed classes’ is fine and appreciated, one would expect respect for sentiments and abstention from using casteist, hateful statements against a community. This has been a regular trend at most of APSC debates with fiery statements against ‘Brahmanical hegemony’ and ‘Brahmanical invasion of South India’. We would still maintain that such statements at an individual level are fine and stifling them would clearly amount to curtailing freedom of speech. Although for an organization, funded and nurtured by IIT Madras, whose voice is said to represent the voice of the student body of IIT Madras, to make such statements is atrocious and unacceptable.

During the much hyped and televised debates on the issue, we have seen many statements from the members of APSC, and from ill-informed reporters looking for a scandal which suggests that there is a lack of freedom of speech in IIT Madras and that there is stifling of debates on issues, due to the fear of government repression. However, does freedom of speech amount to the institute funding a group which makes casteist, political statements, and distributes pamphlets which says ‘Manu Dharma reigns in the campus?’ See poster ‘Manu Dharma. Even though a different group’s name is on it, this was shared by the body on their FB page:

Manu Dharma Reigns IIT Madras

The body, APSC, has been de-recognised for the simple reason that they did not follow standard procedures common for all such institute bodies while conducting their activities. Their activities can be termed as nothing short of divisive and politically motivated. If the institute is not authorized to stop providing money and infrastructure meant for educational purposes to a political body, then we don’t see any relevance for Smriti Iranian administration, in the first place. It is pertinent to note, contrary to popular perception, the institute was not acting on the direction of MHRD.

The MHRD merely asked for comments on this particular issue which was brought to their notice by a student. The letter which was sent contained no instructions, or requests for banning the body. The truth is that the body has not been banned in the institute, unlike what members of APSC and the media howl about. They have merely been de-recognised. They are free to conduct their activities on their own. They merely cannot use the name of IITM in their pamphlets and communication (as they have been doing), and they do not get institutional funding for their activities.

De-recognising a body that has not only misused institutional funding and carried an unapologetic political agenda in the name of fostering discussion but also made despicable comments against a religion/specific castes was the least that could have been done by the institute. Members of the organization should stop using ‘Death to freedom of speech’ as a mask and a rallying cry for their own protection. And the media, for once, should check out the facts of the issue before sensationalizing the issue. – Swarajya, 30 May 2015.

» The IITM students who wrote this article wish to remain anonymous.
» The Ambedkar Periyar Study Circle statement is here.

Ambedkar Periyar Study Circle