This is a guest post by TONY KURIAN and SURAJ GOGOI
Students from different parts of the country started protesting since a Dalit student from one of the premier universities of the country (University of Hyderabad) committed suicide on account of caste discrimination by the administration. This new wave of protests can be traced back to Occupy UGC which erupted when University Grants Commission (UGC) decided to stop the monthly research stipend known as non-net fellowship of Rs 5000 and 8000 for MPhil and PHD respectively. The ministry concerned has since constituted a panel to review the decision on account of student’s protests. On the other hand, we are seeing India becoming part of World Trade Organization (WTO) agreement on higher education. These instances should not be regarded as isolated moments but should be viewed as an integral part of a story unfolding. It is in this context that one should locate the student movement of our time. The movement itself is receiving much media attention, and, it was mostly couched as a student’s movement against the government. For sure, the immediate demands of the students is to ensure justice to Rohith Vemula. The present wave of student movement is aimed at reclaiming academia both from an exclusivist culture which permeates much of our academic institutions, and increasing influence of free market logic in our higher education.
Why are we seeing a new wave of student protests?
To understand why a movement like that we are witnessing now is extremely important for a vibrant and democratic academic space, we should explore some of the unwritten rules of academia itself and our academic institutions. Research is a long-term investment for the person who undertakes it. Every day he or she spends as a full time researcher is a day forgone from the job market. For a research scholar to earn a permanent job, it can take anywhere between five to ten years after the master’s programme.
Continue reading Reclaiming academia: understanding the student movement of our time: Tony Kurian and Suraj Gogoi
Guest Post by RAJARSHI DASGUPTA
[ This post by Rajarshi Dasgupta continues the debate with Ranabir Samaddar’s piece on the character of the students’ movement that has begun in Jadavpur University which was published recently in DNA, also critiqued in a recent post in Kafila by Uditi Sen ]
Nobody knows why social science routinely condemns the lack of radicalism in society when social scientists with radical pasts so easily dismiss new radicalisms as harmful and shallow. I was attending a meeting on students’ politics in the campus I work on the other night, when some colleagues, who have long been part of progressive politics since their student life, voiced such sentiments. I was struck by the arguments they made against what they saw as merely fancy and passing fashion. They were rather similar to a set of arguments made by an older generation of teachers about my colleagues when they were young and radical students. I think these arguments are worth a little discussion since they show something like a pattern that is predictable to some extent, and which may reveal a more uneasy relationship between social science scholarship and social transformation than we usually care to admit. They also have a deep affinity with the criticisms aired about the recent students’ unrest in Jadavpur university, by Ranabir Samaddar among others. Unlike some who have written in support of the students, there are senior scholars like Samaddar who have expressed profound and serious misgivings that must be tackled head on. I will argue in the following that such misgivings result from a muddle of liberal and leftist understanding of the student’s place and the academy’s role in society. A more clear understanding becomes possible, incidentally, in this case, if one returns to a basic capitalist framing of the university.
Continue reading Goodbye Politics, Hello Social Science
- A Reply to Ranabir Samaddar and Others on Recent Students’ Politics in Jadavpur: Rajarshi Dasgupta