THERE IS SOMETHING IN VARANASI

The city pulls me.

Yes, it is not one of those ordinary or routine or normal reasons that call me to never forget this city, to keep this city among the places in my life where I need to come back again and again.

It is complex.

Whenever I come to this city, I routinely find myself disgusted at its potholed roads with clouds of dust, be it in any part of the city. I find myself at staring the ubiquitous garage heaps in every lane, on every road of the city and feel increasingly frustrated about it. I see badly manned and managed traffic stuffed with people and vehicles in every part of the city and feel so helplessly trapped.

And during recent two trips, after we chose Narendra Modi to represent the Varanasi parliamentary constituency with hopes to change its fate, I even felt having a sense of loss on losing some hard earned chance to recovery.

The city’s dirt quotient is still the same as it was in May 2014. There are some efforts but the city needs massive reconstruction and modernization to become a world class heritage city, something that Varanasi deserves. We can’t say when the day will come though we pray for it daily and we can say the efforts so far don’t meet the requirement. Banaras Hindu University, inseparable element of Varanasi’s identity, continues to earn bad name with caste ridden factions enjoying their dominance. Quality of education is consistently going down in this temple of education that is known globally.

But whenever I come to this city, I feel an internal harmony that is refreshing. I feel so charged up – in the lap of Mother Ganga – that things start looking a shade more positive. I feel so complete, so deep inside me, that living spontaneously gets lyrical. Varanasi is uniquely famous for its crowds and I adore feeling a nameless soul in the multitude of people.

How I live this paradox is a question of satisfying internal inquiry for me.

Varanasi gives me what other places couldn’t give me – something I cannot define – but something that I don’t feel restless about.

Yes, the city calls me – again and again – and I come back to it – again and again – feeling at loss at myriad of problems it faces – and celebrating the peace at the same time that it offers.

Probably, that is one of many aspects important in making a true Banarasi.

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

‘I WILL NOT GIVE UP, RATHER, I WILL ENGAGE IN NEW DISAGREEMENTS’ VS ‘I WILL NOT GIVE UP, I WILL NOT ENGAGE IN ALTERCATIONS’

During Narendra Modi’s one-day visit to his parliamentary constituency and my city, Varanasi, on December 25, on the day of Christmas, on Modi government’s ‘Good Governance Day’, the itinerary included events in Banaras Hindu University (BHU).

On December 24, Modi’s government had announced Bharat Ratna for Mahamana Pundit Madam Mohan Malaviya, the great freedom fighter and founder of BHU, and Atal Bihari Vajpayee, statesman, poet and former prime minister. December 25 is also the birth-anniversaries of Mahamana and Atalji.

During an event in BHU’s Swatantrata Bhawan, in presence of Modi and some other ministers of his government, Smriti Irani, the Minister of Human Resource Development of the Government of India, during her brief address, quoted these lines from Atalji’s poem ‘geet naya gata hun’ (गीत नया गाता हूँ – I sing a new song)..and if I am not wrong, someone should please tell Smriti Irani that Atalji’s lines were,

‘Haar nahi manunga, raar ‘nayee’ thanunga’ – (हार नहीं मानूंगा, रार ‘नयी’ ठानूंगा) – ‘I will not give up/I will not concede defeat, rather, I will engage in new disagreements’..

And not,

‘Haar nahi manunga, raar ‘nahi’ thanunga’ – (हार नहीं मानूंगा, रार ‘नहीं’ ठानूंगा) – ‘I will not give up/I will not concede defeat, I will not engage in altercations’..

Though I believed it was so, Smriti Irani quoting these lines with ‘nahin’ (will not engage in/negative) during the event pushed me to do a quick research again. And there, I found it was not just with Smriti Irani.

In fact, most of the pages in Google search returned with ‘nahin’ though on listening to Atalji’s rendition of the poem, it becomes clear that it is ‘nayee’ (new/affirmative/assertive) and not ‘nahin’ (will not engage in/negative).

Here is the YouTube link to the poem with Atalji speaking on it:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J3wr-w_w_JE

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

THE RACE FOR NEXT BHU VC

Term of the in-office vice-chancellor of Banaras Hindu University (BHU) is coming to its end in August 2014.

And given the past trend, especially during the last selection, its time again for dirty politics, lobbying and factional agendas for the position and like always, Delhi is going to be the theatre for the silly theatrics.

Being a central university, the way to the office of the VC of BHU has to be routed through Delhi with Human Resources Development ministry and the President’s secretariat being the central points to deal with the process of selection and appointment.

And the folks have already started, pushing for their interests, in this or that power corridor, from the ministry to the President’s office. Now that a minister is in place and the HRD ministry is going to be fully functional from today, the efforts by the expecting (and the existing) players are expected to scramble for the attention and the space to gain the outreach.

The process of the selection of a BHU VC these days has become so political and lobbying based that it is compromising the academic excellence of the University.

The VC who comes with a political patronage behaves like he is a king, above all – and behaves like an authoritarian entity – we have seen it in the University – anyone can have the experience. Just see the cavalcade of the VC passing, with vehicles and a huge security apparatus – and you can find it yourself. Seeing the face of the BHU VC in public is a rare ‘spectacle’. Don’t even think of meeting him easily, like a teacher should be accessible to the students?

And the major casualty in all this has been the University, our alma mater that has seen a consistent downfall post-2000 in its academic excellence, further affecting the placement scenario and the quality of placement.

And the reason is certainly the big power that comes with big money.

With a huge budget and almost everything in VC’s hands to manipulate, the BHU VC position has become totally political.

It’s a sad story, true for every other university, but exacerbated in BHU’s case with the big flow of money to manage the affairs of this huge institutional set-up.

BHU’s annual budget is over Rs. 300 crore and last year, the Union Budget gave the University additional 100 crore. Then there are expansion projects involving big money like the huge trauma centre of the Sir Sunderlal Hospital or the so-called South Campus of the University, 80 Kms away, in the Mirzapur district, from the main campus in Varanasi.

Though not much proved yet, there have been multiple allegations of corruption. And with such big money, we cannot dismiss all the allegations.

The only saving grace in the University System has been the people in some cases who remain grounded and understand they are teachers first.

But they are very few now and certainly the people manning the BHU’s top position in the recent history have failed the vision of the Mahamana completely.

Let’s see what is in store this year.

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