Tag Archives: academic freedom

DIsmantling of JNu

20 September is close. Birthday of Chandrashekhar. The young left leader who was murdered in Siwan in 1997. Before he went there he was in the Jawaharlal Nehru University. Known to generations of the university as the President of its students’union. We organise an annual  memorial lecture in his name at Patna . This year we had decided to invite a Professor from his university to deliver the lecture. She said a cautious yes as she was not sure if she would be given leave for it. For the last three years the teachers of the JNU have seen their leave application rejected, not only for popular lectures like the one above but also for seminars organised by their professional bodies or peers. But we insisted that she should try. So, we wrote a formal invitation letter to her, without mentioning the significance of the lecture. I apologised to Chandrashekhar for my cowardice. He would have smiled and called it an act of Brechtian cunning, defeating the vicious enemy non-violently.

Continue reading DIsmantling of JNu

Statement by Scholars in North American Universities on Withdrawal of Wendy Doniger’s book

This statement expresses the views of the individuals listed below and does not represent the views of the University of Chicago or any of its departments.

We, the undersigned, as students of South Asia, strongly condemn the withdrawal by Penguin Press India of Wendy Doniger’s The Hindus: An Alternative History from distribution in India. We believe that this work has been attacked because it presents a threat to orthodox Brahminical interpretations of Hinduism. We believe that this attack is part of ongoing attempts by upper-caste extremist Hindu forces to stifle any alternative understandings of Hinduism. As students in the United States, we are acutely aware that North American organizations of the Hindu right initiated the protests against Wendy Doniger’s scholarship. Hindu right wing organisations in India have worked in tandem with their North American counterparts to suppress alternative voices in India and too often violently. We are deeply concerned about the alarming increase in attacks on any academic study of Hinduism that does not fit these groups’ narrow and exclusionary vision of Hinduism which is part of their desire to create a Hindu India that excludes the religious minorities of Indian Muslims and Indian Christians. Continue reading Statement by Scholars in North American Universities on Withdrawal of Wendy Doniger’s book

Of Complicity and Contamination in the Neoliberal Academy: Oishik Sircar

Guest post by OISHIK SIRCAR

Many years back as a naïve leftist graduate student in Toronto I discovered the meanings of complicity and contamination through a most ordinary event. As someone who believed that no artistic work should ever have restricted access because of copyright, I bought an online software programme that could break copy protected DVDs. I would get film DVDs from the university library and use the software to copy them onto my hard drive. In the one year that I spent there, I copied over 1000 films. Over the years I have distributed many of these films to my students and friends, and have made extensive use of them in my teaching and workshops.

By the time I was nearing the end of my stay in Toronto, I wanted to figure out whether the software would work in India – so that I can continue my copyright breaking enterprise. I was delighted to find out that it would, as long as I paid to extend the software’s use for another year. And at the time of making this payment, to my utter surprise, I saw that this software was copyrighted. The fact that a copyright breaking software could itself have a copyright was bizarrely enlightening. The software was a tool to rip through the oppressive regimes of copyright, and in doing so it also sought recognition from that very language of privatizing innovation. It got me thinking whether we could ever espouse and practice a politics that is not a constant negotiation between complicity and contamination. Whether a search for a politics of purity is both foolish and counterproductive? My naïveté has been gradually undone through events that I have observed and experienced since then. While I can treat this as a process of acquiring wisdom, it is nevertheless a disturbing wisdom to possess. It has also left a feeling of yearning for utopia in this world of cruel contradictions.

After returning from Toronto, I shook off my naïveté with such force that I ended up with a job at a university funded by one of India’s largest steel companies whose operations have wreaked havoc in the lives of adivasi populations in several parts of India. Continue reading Of Complicity and Contamination in the Neoliberal Academy: Oishik Sircar

“Are the stone pelters real heroes? Discuss.” Hundred marks?

Noor Mohammed Bhat, a college lecturer in Srinagar, who decided to get creative with the English examination paper. Amongst his essay topics: “Are the stone pelters real heroes? Discuss.”

It also asked students to translate this Urdu-language text into English: “Kashmir is burning once again. The warm blood of youth is being spilled like water. Police and soldiers are beating even small children to death. Bullets are being pumped into the chests of even girls and women. People in villages and towns are crying in pain. Rulers continue to be in a deep slumber. It appears they’ve turned dumb, deaf and blind.” [Associated Press]

Although the AP report linked above says he has been charged with promoting secession, it’s not clear if he’s been charged with sedition. Kashmir Dispatch reports say he’s been charged under section 13 of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.

Ironically, the college where Bhat taught (he’s already been sacked) is named after Gandhi. Univesity spaces in Kashmir are heavily controlled to prevent political expression and student unions are banned. So much so that when Kashmiri students see campus politics at the Jawaharlal University in Delhi, they often remark that they are seeing for the first time what freedom looks like!

Meanwhile, Rohini Hensman says Kashmiris should not have azadi until they ask India and Pakistan for azadi in equal measure, or something like that.

India Bans US Professor from Kashmir, threatens Indian writer with sedition charges: JKCCS


November 2, 2010

On November 1, 2010, shortly after 5.10 am, Professor Richard Shapiro was denied entry by the Immigration Authorities in New Delhi. Richard Shapiro is the Chair and Associate Professor of the Department of Anthropology at the California Institute of Integral Studies (CIIS) in San Francisco. He is also the life partner/husband of Angana Chatterji, who is the Co-convener of the International People’s Tribunal on Human Rights and Justice in Indian-administered Kashmir (IPTK) and also Professor of Anthropology at CIIS. Continue reading India Bans US Professor from Kashmir, threatens Indian writer with sedition charges: JKCCS