University Furthering BJP's `Saffron Agenda', Say Observers
The death of a PhD scholar at the University of Hyderabad (UoH), on Sunday evening, has taken the veil off a grave crisis, which has been spreading its tentacles within the central varsity campus, ever since a change in leadership at the Centre that of the fierce rise of the saffron brigade. Under the scanner is a plethora of occurrences, reported over the last several months that have left both the faculty and the students of UoH startled. The appointment of vice-chancellor Appa Rao Podile, the introduction of Sanskrit and Yoga into the institute's curriculum, the increased presence of police on campus and the distinct alienation of students from deprived communities, are just some of them observers note. So is the autonomous university playing into the hands of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government and its agenda? Most definitely, they allege.
"What else explains Appa Rao's ascension to the top post, bypassing at least 35 more deserving candidates? The central government picked him only because of his closeness to the party leadership and that's no secret. He has been handed down a mandate by the BJP and he is following it to the tee," said a senior professor of the varsity who does not want to be named.
Though on paper, the new VC did have the needed credentials he served the institution for two decades and was also head of department of plant sciences (school of life sciences) for two-three years his colleagues feel it wasn't enough for him to clinch the job. He ranked much lower on the applicants' seniority chart.
Result: A powerless, Centre-manned university management that has, since, allowed local BJP leaders MLC N Ramachandra Rao in particular to interfere with the affairs of UoH, claim faculty members. “Their interest in the varsity is obvious. They want to establish the party's student wing so as to be able to wield power on marginalized communities. They are driven by their Brahmanical ideologies according to which a Dalit boy can never be meritorious,“ lamented K Laxminarayana, former president of the UoH teachers association referring to Union minister Bandaru Dattatreya's letter to the ministry of human resources development that shockingly referred to the expelled Dalit students as “antinationalists“.
But while the new regime in Delhi is seen as having reinforced the rule of upper castes on the university campus, senior professors believe that UoH has never been free of caste politics. “Ever since its inception in 1974, there has never been a single person from a marginalized community Dalits in particular who has been at the helm of affairs either in the administrative or the academic wing of the institution. How can you expect fair trial in a case involving people for these sections of society, when there is absolutely no representation from these communities on the committees of power,“ questioned a professor. He, however, admitted that things have taken an uglier turn of late with the university ad ministration “taking orders“ from the Centre and allowing the police to act as “regulators“ of UoH's internal crises.
Incidentally, even on Monday, about 200 Rapid Action Force personnel and dozens of policemen were deployed on campus to manage student groups agitating against Vemula's death. The protestors weren't seen resorting to any violence.
“Yes, there should be an enquiry into why and what the Union minister wrote in his letter and what instructions were given by the ministry subsequently. But there also needs to be a larger public enquiry into why university managements are increasingly failing in receiving these students (from marginalized communities) and this social condition that's prevalent in most institutions of higher learning across the country today,“ stressed Anant Maringanti, a city intellectual who has been closely following the goings-on at UoH.
Dismissing the fact about caste politics becoming prominent post the advent of the new BJP government, he said how this has been happening for the last 25 years ever since “these students who, until then, stayed out of universities, started to find a place inside them“.
“Because these students come with a severe handicap, university managements always try and find fault with them. But in reality, the problem lies with the universities. It's their failure,“ he maintained.
Jan 19 2016 : The Times of India (Hyderabad)