Who feeds whom? Reflections on the Left responses to the Abhimanyu murder case

The recent murder of an SFI activist, Abhimanyu, at the Maharajah’s College, Ernakulam, allegedly by activists of another student organization, the Campus Front, has once again triggered a series of intense campaigns against the Popular Front of India (PFI), which is accused of having terror links, even with the ISIS. This last claim has become commonsense almost impossible to contest.

Continue reading “Who feeds whom? Reflections on the Left responses to the Abhimanyu murder case”

അഭിമന്യുവധം ഉയർത്തുന്ന കാതലായ പ്രശ്നം

സത്യം പറഞ്ഞാൽ അഭിമന്യു എന്ന വിദ്യാർത്ഥിയുടെ ഞെട്ടിക്കുന്ന കൊലപാതകത്തിനു ശേഷം ആ ചെറുപ്പക്കാരൻറെ മാതാവിൻറെ വിലാപം മാത്രമാണ് ഇപ്പോഴും മുഴങ്ങിക്കേൾക്കുന്നത്. ആ ശബ്ദം മനസ്സിൽ നിന്ന് മായുന്നതേയില്ല.

Continue reading “അഭിമന്യുവധം ഉയർത്തുന്ന കാതലായ പ്രശ്നം”

“Selfless Patriot” – In Search of the Real Shyama Prasad Mukherjee

Shyama Prasad

It has been said with good reason that the Jana Sangh resulted from a combination of a partyless leader, Syama Prasad Mookerjee, and a leaderless party, the RSS”.

(The Jana Sangh: A Biography of an Indian Political Party, by Craig Baxter p. 54) 

1.

In Search of the “Selfless Patriot”

An untimely death of a political leader — whose career is just blossoming — is always a loss to the party they belong to, the ideology they espouse, or the cause(s) they pursue. It also leaves the field open for political pundits of different shades to make all sorts of speculations, or to involve themselves in endless deliberations about what would have been the future of the formation if the said person hadn’t died.

The death of Shyama Prasad Mukherjee (06 July 1901 – 23 June 1953), founder of Bharatiya Jana Sangh (precursor to the BJP), at the relatively young age of 52 years, can be considered one such loss for the project he had undertaken. One cannot stop thinking about how the party he helped found after resigning from Hindu Mahasabha would have developed had he remained alive. His differences with the Hindu Mahasabha, which he even led in 1944, were political in nature, and stemmed from the considered opinion that it abandoned its exclusivist character.

However, to his legatees, who are always bothered very little by the nuances and niceties, he is a leader who provides them a fig leaf to counter the criticism that they had played no role in freedom struggle, or had no place in the comprehensive list of ‘makers of modern India’. Their ascension to the citadel of power has provided them with ample opportunity to project him as a key figure in the ‘Making of India’. (https://thewire.in/politics/search-syama-prasad-mookerjee-true-patriot)

In addition to that, by repeatedly claiming that ‘history failed to serve justice to Mukherjee,’ they are able to easily target Jawaharlal Nehru, the first Prime Minister of India, who played the key role in institutionalising democracy after the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi and early demise of Sardar Patel, and was aware that any leeway to Hindu Supremacist ideology would lead India into becoming a mirror image of Pakistan — a Hindu Pakistan.

( Read the full article here : https://newsclick.in/selfless-patriot)

Statement of Jadavpur University Alumni Against University Decision to Scrap Entrance Examinations

Following is a statement of Jadavpur University alumni on the current controversy around the scrapping of the entrance examination by the university authorities. 

There is also a Change.org petition that has been put up for those wanting to sign. Over 5075 people have signed the petition at last count.

Thos who who wish to sign in solidarity with Jadavpur University teachers, students and staff can do so here.

We, the alumni of Jadavpur University, unequivocally condemn the decision of the authorities to not conduct entrance examinations for admission to the university’s Bachelor of Arts programme.

Several departments of the Jadavpur Arts Faculty annually conduct their own entrance examinations. For the last forty years, teachers have carefully prepared question papers and rigorously evaluated the answers in order to admit the candidates that they deem fit. The tradition of the entrance examination, in which thousands of students participate every year, has ensured that the Faculty of Arts continues its legacy of academic excellence. No weightage is given to Board examination marks because the Boards’ prescribed methods of arts education and evaluation simply do not match those of tertiary education in the humanities. The entrance examinations test students for their interest in literature, history, philosophy and arts, their ability to think independently about texts, and their commitment to understanding the world around them using the skills of reasoning and speculation, the theoretical and methodological capital furnished by the humanities.

The entrance examination has enabled these departments to gain talented students year after year. Many of us would have never made it to the top-ranked Arts departments in the country had we been judged solely on the basis of our marks in school-leaving examinations. Admissions based on Board exam scores would have never enabled students from varied cultural, class and economic backgrounds to be trained in the humanities by the best minds in the country. The rich and diverse professional accomplishments of Jadavpur University alumni – in art, academia, film, entrepreneurship, publishing, writing, advertising and many other fields – constitute a further testament to the success of these departments in scouting and honing talent. First-person accounts of how the erstwhile admissions process created equality of opportunity and access for students from across a range of social and educational backgrounds have poured in from Jadavpur alumni since yesterday (3/7/2018). (To read personal testimonials and opinion pieces from faculty, alumni, staff and current students regarding the significance of the admission process, visit https://juforadmissiontest.wordpress.com/)

The admission test is a time-tested process which has ensured academic excellence in the Faculty of Arts and brought glory to the university. To tamper with this process is to threaten the very core of the humanities – to attack free thinking, liberty, and equality of opportunity. It directly undermines the dreams and hopes of the 17,000-odd students who have applied to Jadavpur University this year. Among these 17,000, there must be brilliant young minds that couldn’t obtain 90% or more in the Board examinations. Their merit cannot be reliably boxed into multiple-choice questions. There must be, in those 17,000, young people who do not seek conventional careers, or if they do, wish to combine them with independent thinking, exploring and lifelong learning.

To stop the admission test is to kill the dreams of anyone who does not participate in the mad rat race of public examinations. It is an attack on the community of scholars, researchers, teachers, alumni, students, and staff who have carefully built up the university and its reputation over the years. To stop the admission test is to tear into the very fabric of the university – its tradition and its history. We must recall that Jadavpur University was set up as an alternative to the education imparted by the erstwhile rulers of India, the British. It has always been home to those who dare to defy norms.

The larger implications of this administrative decision concern the scope and function of higher education in this country. Do we, as a nation, wish to create a more homogenised and technocratic culture that rewards learning by rote, or do we wish to invest in greater autonomy for centres of excellence? Difference and dissent are what all democracies should aspire to; they are the touchstones of any free and open society, and any administration that encourages these tendencies signals its confidence in itself and hope for the future. What we are seeing here is, accidentally or not, congruent with a larger attempt to fundamentally redefine the idea of higher education, to increase administrative interference in universities large and small, more and less prominent (similar conflicts are playing out in JNU, to cite just one example) and to condemn generations of young people to the backwaters of real learning, thought and creativity.

As concerned alumni, we strongly condemn the decision of the authorities to take away independent admission tests from the Faculty of Arts. We demand an immediate revocation of this order, which irrationally, pointlessly, and appallingly undertakes to disrupt a fair and successful admission process. This disruption will impact the futures of countless students, and reduce the entry-point of tertiary education in the humanities to a lottery.

We stand in solidarity with the protesting teachers, students and staff of Jadavpur University. Continue reading “Statement of Jadavpur University Alumni Against University Decision to Scrap Entrance Examinations”

Statement condemning the attack on Advocate Sudha Bhardwaj

​​We the undersigned wish to place on record our utter disgust, contempt and outrage at the latest in the series of machinations by Republic TV, working to its brief as a propagandist for the ongoing crusade against all those who take public stands in defence of democracy, secularism, human rights, Constitutional propriety and rule of law.

Republic TV’s latest target is Advocate Sudha Bharadwaj, National Secretary of the People’s Union for Civil Liberties, Vice President of the Indian Association of Progressive Lawyers and Visiting Professor at the National Law University Delhi. She is widely-known for her three decades of work as a trade unionist, human rights defender, environmental lawyer and a respected advisor to several state institutions including the state legal aid bodies and the National Human Rights Commission. Continue reading “Statement condemning the attack on Advocate Sudha Bhardwaj”

US scholars of South Asia should boycott Indian Ministers and Officials Attacking Academic Freedom: Nandini Sundar

Kafila had earlier published a letter to Association of Asian Studies (AAS) protesting the exclusion of Pakistani scholars from its conference in Delhi, because the Government of India refused visas to them.

Nandini Sundar, in an article in The Wire, explores the complex ramifications of this issue and urges a more consistent position from scholars that would recognize and resist a) the manner in which the Indian state and Indian capital are embroiled in South Asia studies in the US academy and b) the travel ban in the US that equally excludes scholars from seven countries from participating in academic conferences held in the US.

Regarding the US travel ban, there was an international call in early 2017 for an academic boycott of international conferences held in the US, which I had supported, and renew my support to, after the recent Supreme Court decision upholding the travel ban.

And now read Nandini Sundar in The Wire:

As an India-based scholar, as someone who is not a member of the Association for Asian Studies (AAS), which is primarily located in the US though it has 7,000 members worldwide, and someone who had no plans of attending the AAS-in-Asia conference in Delhi (July 4-8, 2018), the boycott call against the AAS-in-Asia is not something that would ordinarily bother me.

The boycott call arose out of the government of India’s refusal to allow Pakistani scholars to attend the AAS meeting; and the AAS’s failure to take a strong public stand against this and inform its members in a timely fashion so that they could make their own choices about whether to attend while Pakistani scholars were being denied. 649 scholars protested against what appeared to be the AAS’s and the local host, Ashoka University’s quiescence in an unacceptable restriction on academic freedom. I was one of them, even though my primary anger was with the government of India, and not with the AAS. However, feeling that this was not enough, over 200 of the signatories have also decided to boycott the conference, arguing that the AAS should have had the courage to cancel the conference altogether rather than submit to the ban.

CONTINUE READING THIS ARTICLE HERE.

 

Jadavpur University Scraps Admission Tests – Not going down without a fight: Sritama Chatterjee

Guest Post by SRITAMA CHATTERJEE

The Executive Council (EC) of Jadavpur University recently decided to scrap the admission test in the Humanities for the academic year 2018-2019. This is no surprise to many of us who have been closely following the chain of events that have unfolded at the university in the last couple of days. According to published news reports, the education minister of West Bengal, Partha Chatterjee had “advised” the university back in November 2017, to do away with the procedure of conducting admission tests.[i]  This raises a serious question whether the education minister of a state can even advise a university on how to conduct its admission process, especially considering that the university is an autonomous institution.  The motives of the EC about the admission tests were becoming increasingly suspicious when they postponed the dates for the admission test twice, thereby causing inconvenience to many applicants, especially those students who had applied from outside West Bengal and had their itinerary planned according to the declared dates. Not only were the dates postponed but also the method of admitting students were changed from the earlier notification of admitting students solely on the basis of admission tests to 50% weightage on board examination and 50% weightage on admission test to completely scrapping the admission test, altogether. Although I acknowledge that the parameters to rank and evaluate the performance of universities have its own set of problems which is outside the scope of this piece, it cannot be denied that Jadavpur University has done significantly well in the National Institutional Ranking Framework(NIRF) published recently by the MHRD, in spite of the fact that as a state university, the funding received by JU is scanty in comparison to the central universities. It is noteworthy that one of the parameters on the basis of which the NIRF rankings are based is perception, in which JU has not scored well. I wonder that after facing the harassment that applicants had to go through because of the fickle-minded decisions of the EC, whether the “public perception” about JU would become better. The VC and the EC must answer. Continue reading “Jadavpur University Scraps Admission Tests – Not going down without a fight: Sritama Chatterjee”