Resist this Dangerous Trend of Subverting the Autonomy of Academic Institutions for Partisan Ends!

iit-ss-29-121-4Subverting every educational institution and education itself is one of the pet agenda of the RSS brigade wherever and whenever they are in power. We have seen it during the last NDA regime and the present Modi regime is continuing with the trend with far greater arrogance and belligerence.

In the latest incident, IIT-Delhi director Prof. Shevgaonkar resigned on 26 Dec, with still two years to complete his tenure.

While Prof. Shevgaonkar, so far, has not spoken out and cited any reason for his resignation, there are enough indications, provided by the BJP and govt sources, to draw conclusions from.  On the one hand, the HRD Ministry denied widespread media reports that Shevgaonkar resigned under the alleged MHRD pressure to accede to two demands–to provide the IIT ground for a cricket academy and to pay nearly Rs 70 lakh to former IIT-D faculty and now BJP leader Subramaniwan Swamy as his “salary dues” between 1972 and 1991. On the other hand, the BJP spokespersons, Swamy and the ministry have gone on an overdrive to allege that IIT director must have resigned on being questioned for signing an MoU to set up an extension campus of IIT-Delhi at Mauritius keeping the Ministry in the dark.

Diversionary Tactics

But how credible are these ‘explanations’ from the BJP and the govt? Firstly, the allegation of IIT-D director acting unilaterally on the Mauritius MoU and keeping the ministry in the dark does not hold any water, as is evident from the 21 Nov 2013 MHRD statement (http://pib.nic.in/newsite/PrintRelease.aspx?relid=100779), which proudly announced “India-Mauritius Sign Two MOUs to Boost Educational Ties” during the Mauritius visit of MHRD Minister Pallam Raju during19-20 Nov, 2013. One of these MoUs was the one between IIT-Delhi and Mauritius Research Council for setting up of an International Institute of Technology Research Academy (IITRA) in Mauritius, signed during the Mauritius visit of the then HRD Minister!

Secondly, so far MHRD pressure for settling Mr. Subramanian Swamy’s ‘dues’ is concerned, it has been put on record, by none less than Mr. Swamy himself, that the new HRD ministry indeed held a meeting with Mr. Swamy and IIT-Delhi director to settle his dues and a move was on for an out of court settlement! (http://indiatoday.intoday.in/story/subramanian-swamy-40-years-later-hopes-to-beat-iit-delhi-with-hrd-help/1/405850.html). Well, if only views of DoPT and Finance Ministry were being sought by the MHRD to clear Swamy’s dues, why was a meeting organized between IIT officials and BJP leader Subramanian Swamy and the Ministry?

It has also emerged that Vijay Dahiya, Delhi Ranji Trophy coach and assistant coach of the Kolkata Knight Riders, had proposed a cricket academy on the IIT grounds. “Institute sources alleged the Centre had pressured a reluctant Shevgaonkar to accept the proposal.” (The Telegraph 30 Dec, 2014)

A senior member of the board of IIT-Delhi said, “Whatever be Shevgaonkar’s alleged involvement with off-shore campus in Mauritius, there is no denying that he was under tremendous pressure from the HRD ministry. Such pressure does not come in writing. He had told us a lot about what happened to him when he went for a meeting to the HRD ministry…” (TOI, 30 Dec 2014)

It is obvious, the Mauritius MoU is a classic sarkari spin to confuse people and the media on IIT-D  director’s resignation and deflect the focus from the high-handed interference by the MHRD with regard to the Swamy’s ‘dues’ and IIT grounds for the Cricket Academy.

If the Director really acted ‘illegally’, what stopped the govt from actual enquiry and action? It must be noted that both IIT-Delhi Alumni, IIT Board members have strongly spoken out against MHRD’s interference and attack on institution’s autonomy.

A Tell-All Contrast

Contrast MHRD’s attitude towards IIT-D director with their attitude towards the DU VC. For years now, the teachers and students of DU had been demanding action against the DU VC and have submitted voluminous records of financial irregularities, administrative wrong doings, diversion of OBC funds and corruption in Gyanoday Express by the DU VC. But the MHRD has refused to act as the DU VC after the FYUP fiasco has promptly switched his loyalty and is implementing every diktat and whim of the new MHRD !

Message from the Modi sarkar‘s MHRD is clear: If the institutional heads agree to surrender and kow-tow the MHRD diktats, they will be allowed a free run, while upright academics who refuse to kow-tow MHRD diktats, will be defamed and shunted out.

Intimidation, Infiltration, Indoctrination

Indeed in the last seven months the saffron regime has wreaked havoc with all premier educational, professional and research institutes in the country.

  • The Chief Vigilance Officer of AIIMS was removed at the behest of a BJP MP Nadda, who subsequently became the Union Health Minister!
  • A few months ago, NCERT chief Parvin Sinclair had quit with two years left to complete tenure. IGNOU V-C M Aslam has gone on ‘leave’ pending the outcome of an inquiry against him regarding irregularities in his conduct.
  • Persons like Y S Rao, who has no worthwhile academic record to his credit but believes caste system worked well in ancient India, was made the ICHR Chief!
  • The bizzare and communal books of the RSS cadres like Dinanath Batra are being made official text books in govt run schools of Gujarat!
  • Not just this, by February, three Indian universities-Kalidas Sanskrit University in Nagpur, Atal Bihari Vajpayee Hindi University in Bhopal, and now Punjab Technical University (PTU) will be teaching Vedic mathematics, by signing MoUs with none other than the RSS-backed Shiksha Bachao Andolan of Dinanath Batra, who authored utterly absurd, obscurantist and communal-racist textbooks! (HT, 29 Dec 2014)
  • Sanskrit being foisted as the compulsory third language in the Kendriya Vidyalayas!
  • Educational institutions have been forced to observe the birthday of Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Madan Mohan Malviya as ‘Good Governance day’ on Christmas Day!

The pattern is unmistakable: by manipulating appointments, shunting out upright academics, and eroding institutional autonomy and imposing obscurantist, majoritarian communal agenda, the RSS driven Modi sarkar and its MHRD are using govt machinery to destroy the fabric of plural, rational, democratic education and autonomy of educational institutions. It is a mission of triple ‘I’ – INTIMIDATE academics, INFILTRATE institutions, INDOCTRINATE young minds.

AISA calls upon students and teachers of IIT Delhi as well as the concerned citizens to resist these bizarre attempts of subverting institutional autonomy to further partisan goals. Autonomy of institutions and content of our curriculum  cannot be allowed to be subordinated to the whims of the political regime. While the MHRD should be taking steps to ensure that constitutional principles are followed by academic institutions, ironically, it has always been seen that the MHRD itself is promoting the violations of constitutional obligations of the institutions. It is high time that educational institutions of the country are saved from being used for promoting sectarian political ends.

Students Show of Love in the Time of Hate

AISA strongly condemns the show-cause notice issued to the students of Calicut Law College for organising a “Hug of Love” event in their college on 10 December 2014. The very next day, twelve students received show-cause notices from the college administration. Left activists including those from AISA received the notice along with common students. The show-cause notice says:

“Your act of indiscipline has attracted unwanted media attention which was telecasted throughout the world creating negative image and tarnishing the reputation of the institution.

The college views your action as an act of gross indiscipline affecting the reputation of the college.”

AISA stands in solidarity with all the students who have received such notices and demands that the college administration unconditionally revoke these notices. AISA salutes the Calicut Law College student community for organising an event like the “Hug of Love” which asserts students’ and people’s rights over the spaces that they inhabit daily. This event strikes at the heart of the state’s and right-wing groups’ desire for moral policing and it is this that has rattled the college administration.

Any college/university’s first principle is the presence of critical thought and freedom of expression, and the college/university administration is beholden to safeguard that freedom. By issuing such a show-cause notice, the Calicut Law College administration has violated the first principle on which any institute of higher education is founded. It has further proved itself to be an unthinking agent of the status-quoist and right-wing forces in the state, when it considers students hugging each other an act of indiscipline.

At a time when the self-appointed guardians of morality have been busy spreading “hate” through divisive speeches and campaigns like “love-jihad” targeting different communities, the students’ of Calicut Law College have undertaken this initiative to ensure that we remember love, the most unifying of human emotions. In denying the expression of such basic human emotions, the college administration only manifests its own regressive views about human relations and feelings. The college administration’s move to brand a peaceful protest by students’ as ‘indiscipline’ will only work to strengthen those forces who are attempting to curb citizens’ freedom through moral policing and hate-speeches.

AISA calls upon all democratic sections of the society to force the Calicut Law College to repeal the disciplinary actions against students.cropped1