When text books get twised

Ruckus on the campus of the universities in Uttar Pradesh seems ongoing. 

The latest news reports of violence on the campus of the Allahabad university,  and before that ruckus in the Benaras Hindu University and the Lucknow University speaks volumes of the political rot intruding into these once- upon- a -time great  educational institutions.  

Alas no longer! Political mafia holding sway in the university departments, intruding right into the classrooms and hostels.Writ large is the fact that hired political goons are made to enter campuses to cause rifts  and with that less of academics and more of a war like situation. Complete with maar-kaat –dhar… Not to overlook the needless controversy that was made to erupt by vested political groups over the portrait of Jinnah on the  campus of the Aligarh  Muslim University.

It is simply shocking to see young students getting thrashed or rounded up or attacked. A complete failure of the system.In fact, in the last four years, the government of the day has caused tremendous damage to educational institutions and with that to the academic future of hundreds of the young of the country. Today, State tyranny has reached campuses where the students are treated like criminals.

What had happened at the Hyderabad Central University  campus  and also on the  campus of Jawaharlal Nehru  University or even at the  Delhi University were grim reminders of the  level  to which the  State machinery  could be used to crush young rebellious voices. Right –Wing’s intrusion was more than writ large after Rohith Vemula’s suicide on the campus of the Hyderabad Central University. It  carried serious offshoots; students  protesting  outside  the  RSS  headquarters  in New  Delhi  were assaulted  by  not  just  the cops  but also  by  the so called ‘unidentified  men’ -  goons with Right Wing  connections.

And exactly a year back goons had wrecked havoc on the campus of  BHU , when girl students were molested. This, when the Yogi sarkar had flaunted the anti – Romeo squads or brigades they had set up to crush all possible Romeos. In the process crushed were the hapless students.  Academic mahaul wrecked, with sheer muscle power overtaking the campus.

Compounding the mess is the fact that there have been instances when students have been booked for speaking out or on the basis of morphed videos and images. No critical Facebook posts tolerated by the political who’s who of this country.  Several students arrested for their comments on the  rulers of the day. Are we living in a democracy or in the Raj or Raja days!  I’m reminded of  Professor  Mushirul  Hasan’s  volume  -The Avadh Punch: Wit and Humour in Colonial North India ( Niyogi Books )  where he  writes of the  Raj  days when Indians could criticize the Brit  rulers only through indirect and  discreet  ways  - through   cartoons  and  verse!  The take off for the Lucknow-published ‘The Avadh Punch’ was to lampoon the Brit rulers through ‘safe’ ways.  So heady  was  the outcome  and response of the  Avadh  Punch that  within a  short span   70  Punches  were  published  in  several cities  of this  country. Don’t tell me we have reached that phase when the Avadh Punch or for that matter the  Rajasthan or Madhya Pradesh Punch will  have  to be  revived so that students can ‘safely’  relay their anger and  disgust and hit out at the political rot.

Not to overlook another vital fact – the  fact that  Kashmiri students who have  traveled all the way from the Valley to study in the different  universities and colleges of the country  have been not just humiliated but even attacked by the so called ‘outsiders’ who were allowed to enter the  campus to spread around violence. And in the last four years instances of this hounding of Kashmiri students have gone up; perhaps, matching the communally charged atmosphere  prevailing in the country. Have we bothered to track and arrest the culprits or just about bypassed and overlooked are all these cases of sheer violence?

When the rulers of the day lace their speeches with  words like ‘ kashmiriyat’ and  ‘insaniyat’ and ‘jamoriyat’ do they ever put these words into  practice and with that reach out to the Kashmiri  students who are studying here and could be  facing  a  harsh and  hostile mahaul?

And no talk connected to students can be complete without the mention of the  changes in the very syllabi right at the school levels. Blatantly dangerous onslaught on the very text. Changing of historical facts if not deleting chapters from the syllabi. Pointers to the fact that there is a well-planned strategy to change the very history. One news report after another of the Rajasthan government planning to remove an entire chapter from school text books, on the maker of modern India:  Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru.  Also, the Maharashtra government’s plans to remove particular history   texts focusing on the Muslim rulers.  And the RSS-affiliated Shiksha Sanskriti Utthan Nyas, headed by Dina Nath Batra,  had sent a long list of recommendations to the National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) demanding a host of changes in its textbooks: to remove English, Urdu, and Arabic words,  a poem by the revolutionary poet Pash and a couplet by Mirza Ghalib, the thoughts of Rabindranath Tagore, extracts from painter MF Husain’s autobiography…  Batra  also wants  references to the Mughal emperors as "benevolent",  the BJP as a "Hindu" party, the National Conference as "secular", an apology tendered by former prime minister Manmohan Singh over the 1984 riots, and a sentence that "nearly 2,000 Muslims were killed in Gujarat in 2002" to be removed… Lurking in the background is the fact that the earlier demands of  Nyas were fulfilled and these were  for  the removal of AK Ramanujan’s essay -Three Hundred Ramayanas: Five Examples and Three Thoughts on Translation - from the undergraduate syllabus of the University of Delhi.  Yes, Ramanujan’s essay was removed from DU’s reading list.

I’m not being very original in stating that a sarkar that cannot take care of its young is damned.  And this sarkar together with its offshoots in Uttar Pradesh is turning out to be nothing short of destroyers!

And as the 2019 elections near there’s worry cum apprehension that the educational institutions, and with that the students,  could be  used by the political mafia. Setting one group against the other! The administration rendered all too weak and run down to veto the political rulers, hell bent on ruining institutions.

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