WASHING, KISSING FEET OF MUSLIM MIGRANTS: SYMBOLISM OF POPE FRANCIS’S GESTURE

It is one of those rare images that make profound policy statements – yet, will it change anything?

What Pope Francis did today could not have been better than it – and could not have come at a more opportune time than this.

The Pope chose the Holy Thursday rite to convey the message that we all so desperately need – that we all are same – in joy – in pain – that we all are brothers – be it the European residents – or the migrants from Asia and Africa that have created the biggest human crisis in the Europe since the World War II.

When he washed and kissed the feet of refugees, including Muslims, Christians and even Hindus, it was a strong counter-statement to those who are out there to exploit the xenophobic mindsets to score political mileage.

Remember the rise of Adolf Hitler in Germany – who exploited the nationalist sentiments of Germans after the loss and humiliation of Germany in the World War I to create his brand of ultra-nationalism that ultimately gave the world the World War II and the Holocaust and millions dead across the continents!

Yes, it is not going to be the World War III – but again, human lives are at stake – and millions of them.

Thousands have been killed in the ongoing war theatres in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia, Nigeria, Libya, Yemen, Lebanon and many other Asian, African and Central American countries.

And the war-torn nation states have left millions of displaced – desperate to find some shelter – desperate to find the next day of their lives.

And the exodus is coming mainly from Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq.

We talk of universal nature and values of the human rights.

We have a world body for it – the United Nations.

We have a global agency dedicated to look after the affairs of the refugees – the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

We have an International Criminal Court – we have an international police organization (Interpol) – and we have many strategic and trade bodies panning across the globe.

That directly tells we all are global citizens with similar rights to live and grow.

Now, when there are domestic war theaters forcing people out of their homes, of their cities, of their countries – isn’t it the responsibility of everyone – including those in Europe – to give them shelter – to give them a place to live – to preserve their right to live and grow?

Yes, these are utopian propositions – but have always been true – and will always be – even if the ground realities are starkly different.

When Pope Francis delivered his message of ‘brotherhood’ by embracing the Muslim refugees, he just did that.

It was a humane attempt to convey the message of seeing the God in everyone, be it a Christian or a Muslim, in the times of war rhetoric and increasing anti-migrant voices in the European establishments after the spate of terror attacks in European nations, especially France and Belgium.

Let’s hope sense prevails – because the millions – displaced from their houses – and trying to pick the thread of their existences in Europe – need it desperately.

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Image Courtesy: Vatican Radio’s Facebook Page (see the video here – https://www.facebook.com/VaticanRadioEnglish)

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

KANHAIYA AND OTHERS TO BE RUSTICATED? TOMORROW IS AGAIN A STORMY DAY IN DELHI.

The inquiry committee constituted by JNU has submitted its report. The day finally came today after the three extensions the committee was granted. And going by the information leaked so far, its findings and recommendations are going to make for headlines.

It has already begun and tomorrow, when there is a big agitation march planned by the JNU Students Union (JNUSU) – Parliament Chalo, it is going to figure prominently. The findings of this probe committee will certainly reflect on how stormy the day is going to be tomorrow.

JNUSU is demanding removal of sedition charges and other cases slapped on Kanhaiya Kumar and others. The Left-wing students unions are backing the move. JNUSU has appealed to the students in Delhi’s different colleges and universities to join the protest tomorrow.

And given the response that Kanhaiya Kumar and other students got after the administration and police made the mess of a simple university issue, the protestors will try to mobilize more support for Kanhaiya Kumar and other students when they take to roads tomorrow.

Kanhaiya Kumar is out on ‘interim bail’ with some tough words by the presiding Delhi High Court judge who delivered the order. Umar Khalid and Anirban Bhattacharya are still in jail after they failed to secure bail.

So, even after the blitzkrieg that Kanhaiya tried to unleash after his bail on March 3, they, from JNUSU and those under scanner including Kanhaiya, are not going to say anything acidic or hostile to the law of the land – that will further affect their case. Yes, a sort of speech delivered earlier in JNU is expected tomorrow – but it is not going to get same eyeballs – because, since March 3, Kanhaiya Kumar last lost much of his currency that made him relevant for a cause.

Some deft political manoeuvring has to be there then – that conveys what the JNUSU wants to say – and convinces people of its intent and substance. JNUSU opposed this probe committee, demanded a fresh one. Those under investigation didn’t appear before it. And students had support of many faculty members as well. And it was certainly not restricted to the university campus. And that has to be sustained.

A well coordinated movement fanning across the capital city or a significant presence in the heart of Delhi to catch media attention and social media pull will serve the purpose. Yes, a speech is ok – but with the intent that reflects sincerity and commitment to a cause.

If tomorrow has to be a stormy day – it has to be within the confines of the law – like the protests of the hugely successful anti-corruption movement of 2011. And if JNUSU has learnt any lessons, it will try to follow the suit.

Hope sense will prevail tomorrow – unlike what happened on February 9 – when anti-India slogans were raised in JNU. Yes, Kanhaiya Kumar, Umar Khalid and others say they did not raise them and those who shouted those slogans were outsiders and we would love to go with that but with the obvious questions that if all these JNU students were present there, when these slogans were raised, they why none of them bothered to stop such anti-nationals or behaved like responsible citizens by informing the authorities of what had happened.

If there had to be any punishment in this case, it was about this – a disciplinary action by the university administration.

And it is expected that the action taken on the recommendations of inquiry committee would be in line with this spirit – with no expulsions – but clear warnings. Police did not go on hunting for two more students named after Umar Khalid and Anirban Bhattacharya surrendered indicates that.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

WHY WORLD CULTURE FESTIVAL RAISES QUESTIONS?

We can rightly argue that the events like the one being organized by Sri Sri Ravishankar (or Mr. Ravishankar) are good for the overall health of the society – but when we see the grandiose scale of such events which are at best fleeting in effect in a society like India with millions of under-nourished, quality-illiterate poor people, we start questioning utillity and futility of such initiatives.

The world peace simply means nothing for them.

And it is my firm belief that that every religious person has the moral and social obligation to work until there is even a single person to be helped is left, something that means it is going to be a lifelong, endless endeavour.

So, if Mr. Ravishankar has spent around 30 crore or more in organizing this event that claims to bring the world on the fragile Yamuna riverbed for three days, he needs to do some soul-searching so as to find the rationale that has driven his decision.

An ordinary Indian needs hospitals, schools and basic civic amenities first and not big temples, monuments, parks and mega events like this World Culture Festival.

Yes, it may be argued, it is being argued, and it will be argued that the Art of Living Foundation, the religious organization of Mr. Ravishankar, runs many schools and hospitals but to claim the ‘spirituality’ tag needs going much beyond it – like shunning the luxury of these mega events until there is no needy left – and to invest the scare resources in creating resources to help them.

In 30 crore or so, many clinics or hospitals or schools could be started in our rural areas or in our hinterlands.

Yes, the way the event has been lined up – with musical and cultural performances from across the world, it would certainly be a breathtaking view – but for the very same reason, it leaves valid questions for a spiritual-religious person, that Mr. Ravishankar claims to be, to introspect.

A poignant conversation from the movie Schindler’s List, that was based on a true story, captures the essence of such an introspection:

Oskar Schindler: This car. Goeth would have bought this car. Why did I keep the car? Ten people right there. Ten people. Ten more people.

Oskar Schindler: This pin. Two people. This is gold. Two more people. He would have given me two for it, at least one. One more person. A person, Stern. For this.

Oskar Schindler: I could have gotten one more person… and I didn’t! And I… I didn’t!

To continue..

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

NOTHING OF ANYTHING ‘ULTRA’ PLEASE!

Here it is in the context of the ongoing ‘national Vs anti-national’ debate!

JNU president Kanhaiya Kumar was released today on interim bail for six months and we saw wide scale celebrations – at Jantar Mantar and in JNU.

The celebrations are logical only if they are a natural reaction to the administrative actions taken (or excesses done) by the State and the police and not when they are seen as extensions of the feelings hostile to the nation.

It becomes sort of ‘ultra-leftist’ then.

— The way some people have acted like ‘ultra-nationalists’ to create a monster out from a prestigious institution and some over-enthusiastic students – something that is totally unacceptable!

We are free to exercise our Constitutional right of the freedom of expression as long as it doesn’t interfere with the sanctity provided to us by the Constitution, a sanctity we start losing the day we start colluding with anti-India sentiments.

Our Constitution, as laid out by the Supreme Court, still protects as – even if we shout anti-India voices.

But the day, we go beyond the restrictions of this sanctity – when we start acting on the feelings so far expressed only through some innocuous words – innocuous because so far they had not incited anyone to acts against the interests of the nation – we lose this Constitutional protection.

Why is JNU an example of the ‘state’s excesses’? Because this Constitutional sanctity was still not violated there. And if there was a fit case for taking action against anti-India sloganeering, the State should have explored the options befitting to an educational institution and students first, instead of going into the provisions of the Indian Penal Code.

For a legal, penal and judicial system that believes in rehabilitation, students do deserve a second chance.

We need to see that leftists don’t become ‘ultra-leftists’.

Likewise, we need to see that nationalists don’t cross the fine line of Constitutional obligation and become ‘ultra-nationalists’ – the way a BJP MLA and some lawyers did – the way anti JNU-students lobby has acted – the way some fringe elements have been raising voices consistently.

Debate, dissent, ideological differences, multi-party presence and a strong civil society – all these are must for a healthy and maturing democracy. A democracy cannot become strong if it has a weak political opposition. A democracy ceases to be a democracy the day a single ideology establishes absolute domination within its precincts.

Democracy needs rightists! Democracy needs leftists! Democracy needs centrists. Sans their ‘ultra-esque’ brethren – without them clinging to the ‘ultra’ extremes!

A democracy never needs ‘ultra-leftists’ or ‘ultra-nationalists’. They choke the dialogues process that all the stakeholders, that we all are, must engage in to create a pluralistic society, a robust democracy and a strong nation.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

JNU ROW: NOW THAT THEY ARE BACK

Now that the five accused including Umar Khalid are back on JNU campus, lets expect that everyone will act as per the experiences (and the learning) that JNU has thrown – since the row broke on February 9 when some students organized a protest event to commemorate Afzal Guru and Maqbool Bhat, two terrorists convicted and hanged by India.

Umar Khalid and some other Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) students surfaced (or resurface) late last night. Apart from its political facets – like making a flash appearance and speaking of surrendering in full media glare so as to keep the police and the opposing groups on a watch – the simple principle of continuity makes it a logical decision. Let law takes its course.

Yes, there is nothing called an ideal scenario in our country – or in fact anywhere in the world – just degrees of relative ease and complexity – amply highlighted by the double standards shown here by the Delhi Police – but as it is India’s national capital – and it is in full media glare – and as the issue has already generated reflections internationally with Noam Chomsky, Orhan Pamuk and others writing appeals (Noam Chomsky, in fact, shot an email yesterday to the JNU vice-chancellor (VC) questioning why did he allow the police inside the JNU campus) – and as it has divided the people in urban India in pro and anti camps – it is not easy for the Delhi Police and the establishment elsewhere to continue the way it has worked so far.

And they have a significant development to back them – the Jadavpur University VC, in Kolkata, didn’t allow the police inside the campus in spite of the pro JNU students protests and sloganeering.

Hope sense now prevails on the Delhi Police and those opposing groups.

Or is it so?

It doesn’t seem the Delhi Police has learnt any lesson. After committing a social hara-kiri by acting unnecessarily tough on JNU students and conveniently ignoring O P Sharma and the rioting lawyers at the Patiala House Courts Complex, they did another such mistake.

The Delhi Police failed us again the last night. It couldn’t dare to touch O P Sharma and the accused lawyers for full three days even if they were out there, brandishing their hooliganism on cameras. The Delhi Police didn’t try even once to reach them and apprehend them. Instead, it kept on sending summons and summarily released them on bail even if they responded to the summons after two-three days.

But it reached the JNU campus in the middle of night to arrest the accused students – when this whole sedition case and the ‘anti-national Vs national’ debate is based on some video clips the authenticity of which were never established. In fact, the clips are being said doctored now.

It is good and logical that the JNU VC didn’t allow the Delhi Police inside the campus this time.

Let law takes its course. Let fight be at the ideological level. Let JNU be JNU. Let’s realize the gap between students and terrorists. Let’s not overreact anymore. Let’s now say no to hashtags like #JNUCrackdown or #CleanUpJNU or #StopAntiIndiaCampaign.

Let’s hope no more firecrackers later in the day – with sense prevailing inside JNU and outside its environs.

The nation comes first – for the JNU students, for them, for us – for everyone taking sides. Healthy dissent, ideological differences and vertical divides in societies are must-haves for any country if we don’t violate the Constitutional norms.

Now, who will decide when ‘a Constitutional norm’ is violated? Well, we have courts for that and a robust judicial system and a vigilant Supreme Court. Let’s base our trust there.

Mahendra Singh Dhoni, the Indian cricket team captain, made a ‘to the point’ remark yesterday when he said that we must keep in mind that our armed forced are making supreme sacrifices at borders so that ‘we can keep debating things like freedom of speech’. We must respect that. Nothing goes beyond that sacrifice – we all, politicians and society, must keep that in mind.

And this remark came in the context of the Pampore encounter with terrorists in Jammu & Kashmir that is in third day and is still ongoing with six lives already lost, including five security personnel. And one of them, Captain Pawan Kumar from Jind, Haryana, a 23-year old Jat, wrote a thoughtful note on another issue that people are wrongly trying to impose on India – the violent protests by Jats in Haryana and Uttar Pradesh – to forcefully usurp something that is supposedly not for them – the caste-based Reservation.

Captain Pawan Kumar wrote in his last Facebook post before being martyred in Pampore (from a Press Trust of India report) – “Kisiko reservation chahiye to kisiko azadi bhai. Humein kuchh nahin chahiye bhai. Bas apni razai. (Some want reservation and some independence, I don’t want anything, brother, I want only my quilt).”

It should haunt everyone – those in JNU – those outside it, maligning it – politicians, police and society – and the people demanding Reservation and trying to force their way in.

And as Pawan Kumar graduated from the National Defence Academy, he is also a JNU degree holder as NDA has collaboration with JNU for degrees.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

JNU ROW: QUESTIONS WE MUST ASK!

THE QUESTIONS

The JNU row (Jawaharlal Nehru University) has debased to such lows that we seriously need to ask questions – on the whole socio-political milieu prevailing at the moment:

— That what was and what would be the right approach – to let the incident pass by taking strict disciplinary action against the erring students? – or making a fuss about it to the level that it has now escalated to the extent to threaten the academic atmosphere in many other universities?

Obviously, the sane and the logical voices would say a disciplinary action would be enough to address the issue – if at all it was needed – or that it would be precisely in course to ignore the event because it was not a majority view there, in fact just a handful of students were for it, and it was not the first time in JNU.

— Was it a case fit for police intervention? Now, after a week of row and its spread to other universities, we can safely say NO. In the age-groupthe  of being students, we all are impulsive, reactive, susceptible to sentiments and above all, we question ethos if we don’t conform to them – even if it means airing our views about the state, about its affairs. Being a student should be about that. We need to get outraged and speak our mind whenever we see something wrong. That is permissible within the democratic norms – something that is even the top custodian of the Indian Constitution, the Supreme Court of India, accepts – saying unless words incite action, it is not a fit case for imposing sedition laws. We may be wrong, like here these ‘pro Afzal Guru’ protesters were, but then there were other possible means to handle the situation than a police intervention.

— That if the administration was hell-bent on ‘improving’ the situation, sanitizing JNU of anti-national elements? If it was so, and no problem in that, then why did the Delhi Police act so late. Reports say the Delhi Police had information prior to the event.

— What were they waiting for? If the Delhi Police can proactively raid a government run canteen (Kerala House beef controversy) in the name of taking precautionary measures to prevent any untoward incident in the name of beef politics, why didn’t they do so here?

— Since February 9, it was JNU. Since yesterday, it is Jadavpur University. University of Hyderabad is also delicately balanced at the moment. Now, in the name of taking tough action on the so-called ‘anti-national’ elements in our university system, in our academic institutions, aren’t we risking something much more insane – something that would vitiate the academic atmosphere by dividing students along the lines of differing ideologies?

Universities must be the first place in any society to inculcate a culture of debate with differing voices and ideologies and the emphasis should be on developing in-built mechanisms to address voices of extreme like the ‘pro Afzal Guru’ event of JNU. There were just handful of students (10-15), and even that is not sure that if they all were from JNU, and their voice would never matter in the whole group of over 7000 JNU students.

— Aren’t all political parties culprit of adding fuel to the fire? From Arvind Kejriwal to Rahul Gandhi to senior BJP and Congress politicians to Mayawati to Nitish Kumar to Omar Abdullah and all others including the natural claimants, the Left parties with their legacy in JNU, who made statements or visited JNU to take sides – everyone is responsible to make what JNU has become today – since February 9 – and what University of Jadavpur is becoming since yesterday.

— Aren’t we all to share the blame? Aren’t we all instilling fear in minds of our students? Aren’t we all forcing our students to take extreme steps like Rohith Vemula did or like the three students of a Villupuram allied medical college did or like a Ph.D. scholar in Central University of Rajasthan who committed suicides after harassment from his research guide? Incidents like JNU crackdown or policies that make vice-chancellors excessively powerful are solely responsible and therefore it is the system that is behind such events or policies.

— Did the police act politically? Did the police act in haste? Did the Delhi Police make the matters worse? Yes, in fact, it is the Delhi Police that is primarily responsible for making this much of something that was initially nothing. And they have continued with their charade. They found an anti-national in Kanhaiya Kumar, the JNU Students Union president, very conveniently and arrested him but they have conveniently ignored the goondaism and lawlessness of some of the lawyers, an spectacle that has been on obscene display since yesterday thrashing Kanhaiya Kumar, his supporters and journalists including women – in the name of nationalism or patriotism. But like the ultra-leftist (DSU, the Democratic Students Union in this case), we also don’t need these ultra-nationalists. And the list of such bravados includes a BJP MLA. Things are on tape, recorded. The BJP MLA and the goons in the garb of lawyers are openly airing their views but the Delhi Police is still investigating, even if the Supreme Court reacted angrily on the lawlessness on display at the Patiala House Courts complex.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

VILLUPURAM MEDICAL STUDENTS SUICIDE: SHABBY HIGHER EDUCATION KILLS SOME MORE DREAMS

Reports say three students of an Ayurveda medical college in Tamil Nadu committed suicide alleging the college administration of playing with their future. Reports say the students of the college were protesting bad infrastructure, administration’s apathy and principal’s exploitative callousness in the college.

Big promises of a bright future – like after passing out from a medical college – duplicitously selling practices like ‘Naturopathy and Yoga Sciences’ – garnishing them with glamour quotient of terms like ‘medical colleges’..

Apathetic and insensitive college administration, principal and management – exploitative to the core..

Exorbitant fee – Rs. 6,00,000 in two years – here in this case – its goes higher easily in higher education institutions of professional studies – and many sincere students who cannot secure position in good institutions – but still find education as the only alternative for their careers ahead – end up in these exploitative institutions that run like a money-making machines – killings dreams – slaying lives..

They promise skies while giving you admission but after that the sole focus shifts to collecting fees and imposing further types of fees and fines to fill coffers..

Many states in India have engineering colleges with seats running in hundreds of thousands. Their graduates cannot stand even a sound humanities graduate from a good institution. Similar is the case of management colleges. These are the two streams that have killed maximum dreams in India – thus milking the maximum money. Now many colleges are shutting their door because they are not getting students.

Medical education is relatively a safe bet for such money sharks that prowl through educational institutions. Because setting up and running a medical college requires deep investment and regular onslaught of checks and balances. Even then we regularly come across reports of poor quality and threats of affiliation withdrawal. That makes allied fields like ‘naturopathy, yoga, homeopathy, Unani and even fakes like electrohomeopathy’ a safer bet for fraudsters or for people from extended clan of education mafia.

These girls had spent almost Rs. 6 Lakh and they had not completed even the second year. And they had not learnt anything. And their repeated pleas have fallen on deaf ears. And Rs. 6 Lakh is a lot for many families in India to arrange – cut or tighten your budget or borrow – and when you see happening things like this, your impulse can drive you to take any decision in those desperate moments of despair.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

CAN ROHITH VEMULA’S FORCED SUICIDE DO THAT TO US?

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/

STUDENT SUICIDE: HOW WE SHOULD SEE SMRITI IRANI’S YESTERDAY’S STATEMENT

Nothing more than another botched up political attempt by BJP to damage control in the issue that has outraged the whole nation after a Dalit Ph.D. scholar of the University of Hyderabad (UoH) was forced to commit suicide due to political interference in a matter of student politics.

Reports say that the Union Human Resources Development ministry wrote five letters to UoH to pressurize the university administration to act against Rohith Vemula and his four other friends, members of Ambedkar Students Association (ASA).

We have all the reasons to disbelieve BJP, Smriti Irani, the ABVP student leader of UoH N Susheel Kumar, UoH administration and its vice-chancellor (VC).

And we have every reason to believe every word of Rohith Vemula’s letter, written or unspoken, versions of his friends and their allegations.

What UoH did today, has in fact lend more credence to these voices demanding justice. Today, UoH revoked suspension of four others who were suspended along with Rohith. Now we can only lament on such a blasphemy that aggravates our collective outrage even more. It is absolutely nothing and is unacceptably late.

An individual’s life is the primary driving force of a democracy. Yes, that is the ideal scenario enshrined in our Constitution and we are far from that as a society with the prevailing socio-political milieu.

But this basic tenet takes the sense of urgency whenever we found ourselves in a state of collective mourning and outrage over loss of a human life – like it has become so in the case of Rohith Vemula – a bright and talented human being – whose life was cut short by some unabashed political masquerading of the system.

And our collective mourning, our outrage and that producing echoes of Rohith’s name – a person unknown till January 17 – are the best possible tribute to this man – who has stirred our sentiments.

Rohith’s letter exonerates anyone and everyone of the guilt behind his act but it, in fact, blames each of us. It is, in fact, his dying declaration that puts us all in the dock. And even our legal judicial system accepts the sanctity of someone’s dying declaration – without any further evidence.

Rohith’s highly intellectual last letter is also a contradictory one. He says he is happy in embracing death but he also regrets about his past life and childhood and writes about his disenchantment from the society.

And when we see some past months in his life, we feel why BJP has been utterly wrong in dealing with the crisis and how misplaced the party’s logics have been.

Smriti Irani first painted a very sincere image of her on the crisis saying she was ready to resign in case she was proven wrong and then she came with her misplaced rhetoric yesterday that said that the politicking over the issue was creating a false impression of ‘Dalit Vs non-Dalit’ struggle. And she used ‘wrong facts’ to bolster her claims which fell flat today when UoH teachers said there was no Dalit teacher in the panel that punished Rohith Vemula.

To continue..

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

OUR ORIGINALITY VALID THROUGH ARTIFICIAL ART.

Well, these are some words from the first letter written in public domain by Rohith Vemula – that is now also is his last one – because Rohith, a young research scholar from a reputed university, committed suicide yesterday.

And these words, if they tell his suicide may have other reasons than student politics and caste discrimination, they also tell, in fact the whole language of his letter, that this guy cannot be anti-national as Bandaru Dattatreya, senior BJP leader and union minister, and University of Hyderabad administration think.

Like everything has good and bad facets – student politics is no exception. In fact, student politics is a must in any democracy – but certainly not in the form that is prevalent in India – from Delhi University to Jawaharlal Nehru University to Mumbai University to University of Hyderabad to Banaras Hindu University – in fact, in any university in India.

The developments related to student politics leave you in bad mood and in bitter taste. I have seen its polluted form, a form that has become a sort of norm in India, during my days in Banaras Hindu University. Thankfully, the student union, as it prevails in places like DU and JNU, doesn’t exist in BHU though it has its flipside – a ruthless university administration that has consistently seen and faced allegations of corruption and impropriety – including its current administration – a clear letdown – a trend that began in early years of the first decade of this Century.

Rohith, the 26 year old, second year Ph.D. student, was expelled from hostel and was barred from other living spaces of the university except his classroom, library and seminars and conference halls – in a way a social boycott.

He writes in his letter he has no complaints and no one should be held responsible for his suicide. He writes ‘he is happy being dead than alive’. He writes he is not sad but is feeling empty and that is killing him.

I have no intention to go into inside out of this letter. I am incapable of doing so. In fact, I should not do so.

But there are some relevant questions where we must look for the answers if we have to stand up and grow as a holistic society, and this letter is right there.

What Rohith has written in his letter are questions fuelled from a sense of insecurity that creeps beneath your skin when you start questioning the society around you in terms of your ethos towards life – and we all entitled for that.

His letter flows lyrically. It has a soul – a soul that tells of a conscious mind – a soul that tells us why his detractors including the university administration, politicians including those from student politics and society at large are wrong – a soul that tells why they all are culprits.

Yes, life is as much about positives as it is about negatives – and the journey here is the sum total of maintaining the lead of positives over negatives – but sometimes, negatives become so acidic that anything can happen in those ‘impulsive moments that let you down’.

Embracing death – this young fellow looks set to do that – without blaming anyone – wishing for a journey to some other worlds – but his words also tell that how we failed him – that how we exacerbated the feeling of ‘disconnect’ in those impulsive moments’ when Rohith decided to embrace death.

His tragic death deals deeply with the questions of identity crisis – like commoditization of a human life – a research scholar at a university, with a conscience like of the author of this letter, bound to feel low when he faces the insensitivity around him – mixed with social arrogance and social apathy.

Rohith Vemula was active in student politics but his letter tells his was a logical political past – the way it should be in student politics – and not like the obscene display of political muscle and money in places like DU. And we safely can say that Ambedkar Students Association (ASA), Rohith was a member of, is far less controversial than ABVP (Akhil Bhartiya Vidyarthi Parishad), BJP’s student politics wing.

The letter says Rohith was not sad but it lets itself bare open before us in letting us know that how depressed he was when he terms his birth as some fatal accident and his grown up days as disconnected from the society he was living in – so much so that he says that we need fakes to look original.

We may rightly debate that it is not the case but Rohith makes his point logically and lyrically – even if leaving us all humiliatingly burdened by the sense of guilt that his death has caused.

The reason for his death goes well beyond caste politics. It is more about the rot in our education system, especially the university education system. Unfortunately, most of the universities in India are like small fiefdoms where vice-chancellors lord over like anything. And with increasing political patronage and interference, people with questionable academic intent are having a green run. It was a political interference that caused Rohith’s expulsion from hostel.

In such institutions, teaching quality is the first casualty. Next in the line are students. Student politics, that is a direct offshoot of senior level politics in our country, further pollutes the system. Large scale scams are regularly alleged in recruitments and admissions. The VCs with feudal mindsets take bizarre decisions though these things are hardly reported. The recent decision by BHU to sack Sandeep Pandey, visiting professor, IIT-BHU, is one such example. The university administration has branded the Magsaysay winner a ‘naxalite’. Utter rubbish!

And then there are social equations.

India has made considerable progress in ensuring social affirmative action. It cannot be outrightly dismissed as some are trying to do (as some try to do whenever such incidents happen). Much has been done and we can see its effects.

But then it is also equally true that much is yet to be done, especially in rural belts. And that tells us we urgently need to graduate to the next stage of our affirmative action.

And about the mindset change in urban India – where the problem exists – it is a complex social equation and a straight law and order issue – and must be dealt accordingly. It will take time but we need to appreciate that the change is coming – if we have to succeed – like sternly dealing with culprits in this case – even if Rohith’s letter doesn’t blame anyone.

We need to graduate to ‘Dalit cause’ – beyond ‘Dalit politics’ – and we need to be real with it – beyond those artificial dogmas that still blind us.

I did not know who Rohith Vemula was before yesterday. No one except his immediate life circle knew him before yesterday.

But, now I know who he was, through his words – through this letter. A loss of young life this way leaves unanswered questions for all of us – blaming us collectively – for failing it.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

Rohith Vemula only letter (addressed to all of us) – and must be for all of us..

Good morning,

I would not be around when you read this letter. Don’t get angry on me. I know some of you truly cared for me, loved me and treated me very well. I have no complaints on anyone. It was always with myself I had problems. I feel a growing gap between my soul and my body. And I have become a monster. I always wanted to be a writer. A writer of science, like Carl Sagan. At last, this is the only letter I am getting to write.

I loved Science, Stars, Nature, but then I loved people without knowing that people have long since divorced from nature. Our feelings are second handed. Our love is constructed. Our beliefs colored. Our originality valid through artificial art. It has become truly difficult to love without getting hurt.

The value of a man was reduced to his immediate identity and nearest possibility. To a vote. To a number. To a thing. Never was a man treated as a mind. As a glorious thing made up of star dust. In every field, in studies, in streets, in politics, and in dying and living.

I am writing this kind of letter for the first time. My first time of a final letter. Forgive me if I fail to make sense.

May be I was wrong, all the while, in understanding world. In understanding love, pain, life, death. There was no urgency. But I always was rushing. Desperate to start a life. All the while, some people, for them, life itself is curse. My birth is my fatal accident. I can never recover from my childhood loneliness. The unappreciated child from my past.

I am not hurt at this moment. I am not sad. I am just empty. Unconcerned about myself. That’s pathetic. And that’s why I am doing this.

People may dub me as a coward. And selfish, or stupid once I am gone. I am not bothered about what I am called. I don’t believe in after-death stories, ghosts, or spirits. If there is anything at all I believe, I believe that I can travel to the stars. And know about the other worlds.

If you, who is reading this letter can do anything for me, I have to get 7 months of my fellowship, one lakh and seventy five thousand rupees. Please see to it that my family is paid that. I have to give some 40 thousand to Ramji. He never asked them back. But please pay that to him from that.

Let my funeral be silent and smooth. Behave like I just appeared and gone. Do not shed tears for me. Know that I am happy dead than being alive.

“From shadows to the stars.”

Uma anna, sorry for using your room for this thing.

To ASA family, sorry for disappointing all of you. You loved me very much. I wish all the very best for the future.

For one last time,

Jai Bheem

I forgot to write the formalities. No one is responsible for my this act of killing myself. No one has instigated me, whether by their acts or by their words to this act. This is my decision and I am the only one responsible for this. Do not trouble my friends and enemies on this after I am gone.