We have reasons to go by Narendra Modi’s words. If BJP won complete majority on its own, something unthinkable in the prevailing political scenario of the country, it was basically because of Narendra Modi. People showed trust in him, in his words, in his promises of development.
It is true the first 20 months of the BJP government have given us more questions than solving our problems but still, Narendra Modi is the only political alternative India has when we see the equations in the national politics.
So when he reacted on Rohith Vemula’s suicide today, we should accept some serious action would follow now – after a series of blunders so far – yes, within realms of realpolitik of the day.
The biggest and unpardonable blunder is by University of Hyderabad, its administration and its vice-chancellor. Had they acted like what makes for a real educational institution and credible academic careers, Rohith Vemula would be among us, pursuing his studies for a better career and better life for himself, his family and country.
Universities should ideally be first the places in our societies for healthy, intellectual debates on ideas and ethos of anything and everything – social sciences, sciences, arts and aesthetics, culture, religion, traditions, dance, drama, music, and so on and so forth – and the difference of opinion should be a must – because we cannot progress, we cannot evolve – unless we question – even if we have to reaffirm our faith.
That is not the case here in India – in the world’s largest democracy. But I know we would be there someday – our robustly functional democracy would take us there.
But at the moment – it is total chaos. Our educational system is failing us. Apart from few bright spots, the overall scenario is gloomy. We are churning out degrees but not capable human beings. Political interference and political considerations, coupled with deeply rooted corruption, have vitiated the atmosphere of the seats of higher learning to the extent that the discrimination that Rohith Vemula faced has become quite common.
Vice-chancellors, head of institutions, principals – they behave like they are kings of their fiefdoms – beyond any scrutiny.
They all, all responsible in Rohith’s case, should be held accountable and punished – anymore delay would be blasphemous.
Next is the political interference in student politics.
It is now established beyond doubt that associated outfits and fringe elements are involved in brining much dirt to BJP. And in this case also, role of an Akhil Bhartiya Vidyarthi Parishad, BJP’s student wing, is under scanner. The allegations that have been leveled against Bandaru Dattatreya and Smriti Irani, senior BJP leaders and union ministers, in Rohith’s suicide, need clear answers.
It was clearly a case of undue political interference, as proven by letters of Bandaru Dattatreya on behalf of BJP and letters of HRD ministry to UoH on Bandaru’s letter that exacerbated the matter. Then there are controversial statements by Smriti Irani, Bandaru Dattatreya and other BJP leaders. BJP could have simply accepted the fault and could have apologized to the nation. That would, in fact, be positive for the party’s public perception.
Now that Narendra Modi has reacted so emotionally, should we see some fundamental changes coming? True, a mother has lost her son and words cannot suffice for the pain her family is going through. Action must follow. The society would be a much better place with a Rohith Vemula, engaged in his life, pursuing his studies, unknown to you and me and each of us who are now thinking so deeply about the incident.
After all, Delhi gangrape on December 16, 2012 was not first horrible crime to happen against women but then, at times, it takes an incident like this to stir our collective conscience to demand for fundamental changes.
We cannot quantify what the massive public outrage on December 16 gangrape did to our society but it did qualify on parameters like forcing policymakers to act, starting debates in social circles and more reporting on crimes against women. At least, a beginning has been made.
Can Rohith Vemula’s forced suicide do that to us – a beginning to bring fundamental changes in our seats of higher learning – away from destructive debates like ‘Brahminical’ or ‘anti-Brahminical’ or ‘pro-Dalit’ or ‘anti-Dalit’ or ‘higher Vs lower castes’ to constructive issues like ‘how to reform the reformative action system’ – like ‘how to keep student politics away from mainstream politics’ – like ‘the social disparity prevailing in the society’ – like ‘social inclusion and exclusion based on economic parameters’ – like ‘poor quality of our teachers’ – like ‘political appointments polluting the posts of VCs, head of institutions or principals’ – and so on and so forth?
©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/