Guest Post by Pallavi Paul
As I comb through the deluge of responses and opinions that have been circulating on television, social media, newspapers and conversations over the arrest of JNUSU president Kanhaiya Kumar, there is one particular fear that sticks out repeatedly. The fear of JNU being a ‘transformative’ space. Where young and innocent minds are changed. The question that follows then is- changed into what? Even as we see ABVP students vociferously defending police action on all media platforms, the Sanskrit department continuing with classes in spite of the call for strike in support of Kanhaiya and faculty members like Hari Ram Mishra (CSS) issuing media statements against the student agitation currently underway- the simple formula that JNU transforms its students into ‘anti-national’ elements (going by the current interpretation of the term) begins to appear erroneous. In addition to having a culture of critical thinking, debate, questioning and radical left politics – JNU has also had an equally dynamic history of Hindutva and Brahaminical politics. For every protest on Afsal Guru there is a Guru Dakhshina Karyakram, for every Sitaram Yechury addressing students there is an Ashok Singhal (who visited the campus in 2002 even amidst intense protests). This fear then, if seen clearly begins to appear more and more abstract. It bases itself on a ‘sense’ of the campus- rather than its actual political fiber. Infact if one hears carefully it is the larger fear of things changing, things changing irreversibly.
Continue reading Some thoughts on love in times of hate – from a JNU student : Pallavi Paul
This is a guest post by AYAN GUHA
The Central Government’s decision, to make the Civil Services Aptitude Test (CSAT) a qualifying paper in the UPSC (Union Public Service Commission) Civil Services Examinationhas come as a huge boost to the morale and aspirations of the students of social science and vernacular background who have been badly bitten by the CSAT bug since introduction of the paper.Every time their counterparts from the science and technical fields raised the cut-off beyond their scoring reach. They have long been campaigning for scrapping the CSAT on the ground that it clearly favours the students of English medium and science and technical background. Continue reading Understanding the Neo-liberal Agenda of Knowledge: The Unexposed Dimensions of the CSAT Controversy: Ayan Guha
[Note: Recent events in South Africa – from raging student movements across university campuses to xenophobic violence in the streets of Durban – seem to echo so many struggles both inside and outside the university “here.” This is the second post from South Africa that seeks to listen and travel across. The first, by Richard Pithouse, is here.]
Guest post by DILIP MENON
Susa lo-mtunzi gawena. Hayikona shukumisa lo saka
Move your shadow. Don’t rattle the bag
JD Bold, Fanagalo Phrase Book, Grammar and Dictionary, the Lingua Franca of Southern Africa, 10th Edition, 1977
In the bad old days in South Africa, whites spoke English or Afrikaans, the languages of command. When they did engage with those that did not speak English, there was Fanagalo, a pidgin based on Zulu peppered with English and some Afrikaans. Fanagalo was developed in the mines and allowed directives, if not conversation. The struggle against apartheid produced its freedoms, its heroes and heroines and new dreams of equality. As Richard Pithouse in his article shows, twenty years down the line the sheen has worn. Unemployment, xenophobia, violence, crime and a seemingly entrenched inequality dog our dreams. We live with the constant premonition of becoming an ordinary country, a nation like any other. Continue reading Rattling the bag – Language Knowledge and the transformation of the university in South Africa and India: Dilip Menon
This is a guest post by ‘The English Teacher’
Here are some statistics detailing the current state of education in India. 4% of Indian children – eight million – never start school. 57%, 74 million, don’t complete primary school. 90% – 172 million children – don’t complete secondary school. To call the situation alarming is an understatement; we have in our country a full-blown disaster. 90% of our nation’s children are victims of this disaster, with barely 10% emerging as survivors. But how fortunate are the 10% really?I’ve been a teacher since 2010, a year after I graduated from university. I taught social studies for a while, pottered a bit in the areas of curriculum and school policy development for a while longer, and have, for the past two years, taught English to middle school students. If these terms – middle school, curriculum and school policy development seem a bit foreign to you, it’s because they are. I happen to work – or happened to, until very recently – in an international school.
When you hear “international school” you may imagine any number of a range of things – let me tell you right off, though, that we aren’t talking top range international school here. As far as school infrastructure goes, my former place of work is a damned sight better than any of the schools the 90% go to in our country, but as far as international schools go, mine lay in the majority of them that are just coming up in the country, especially in Mumbai. The sort that’s less than ten years old and an educational disaster zone of its own kind.
Guest post by SNEHLATA GUPTA
Smug patriarchal pronouncements about ‘dented and painted’ women and ‘rape in India and Bharat’ brought back to me an experience I faced in the classroom some years ago.
I teach English in grades 11 and 12 in a co-ed school in Delhi. That year I had this rather ‘difficult’ boy in class. I can’t remember now how the discussion really began. The discussion got to the point where students were talking about the amount of freedom available to girls and boys and why girls have far less ‘freedom’ than boys. It was somewhere at this point that this boy stood up (unlike the regular practice of standing to speak in the classroom, I insist students should sit and talk in my class) and stated with complete confidence that ‘if girls dress so provocatively boys can’t help themselves.’
I remember being completely aghast at this blatant show of patriarchal arrogance. I went all hot and cold in the same moment. Continue reading Male students, female teachers and patriarchy in the classroom: Snehlata Gupta
संसद राजनीति और लोकतंत्र पर स्कूली किताबों में कार्टून नहीं चाहती है. इस मसले को लेकर संसद के दोनों ही सदनों में सारे राजनीतिक दलों में अभूतपूर्व मतैक्य देखा गया. एक राजनीतिक दल, जिसका नाम नेशनल कान्फरेंस है, इस दमनकारी बहुमत से अलग स्वर में बोलने की कोशिश करता रह गया, उसे क्रूर बहुमत ने बोलने नहीं दिया. आखिर वह एक बहुत छोटे से इलाके का था! मुख्य भूमि में बन रही सहमति में विसंवादी स्वर पैदा करने की अनुमति उसे दी ही कैसे जा सकती थी? उसे उसकी लघुता के तर्क से नगण्य माना जा सकता था. यह स्वर कश्मीर से आ रहा था जिसे भारत का अंग बनाए रखने के लिए देश के क्रूरतम क़ानून की मदद लेनी पड़ती है.
यह विवरण यहाँ अप्रासंगिक लग सकता है.लेकिन मुझे इसमें एक तरह की प्रतीकात्मक संगति दिखलाई पड़ती है. वह संगति असहिष्णुताजन्य अधैर्य के तत्व से निर्मित होती है जो हमारे सामाजिक और सांस्कृतिक जीवन को परिभाषित करता है और इसीलिए सरलीकरण की पद्धति उसके चिंतन की दिशा तय करती है. Continue reading पाठ्यपुस्तक का संघर्ष
An Open Letter
The Editor In Chief
The Hindustan Times
We were attracted by the announcement made by the Hindustan Times that it intends to spend 5 Paisa earned from the sale of each copy on educating the children of India. It did not however tell us how it intends to spend this money. That is important since education of a child is not a sum of random acts. Schooling is a holistic experience composed of several components identified and selected through a Curricular Design which seeks to attain the education goals which a society sets for itself from time to time. Continue reading How Not To Educate A Poor Child
This press statement comes via Kavita Srivastava; see full list if signatories at the end.
Jaipur, 21st March, 2012: We are shocked and strongly condemn the statement made by the Global Corporate Brand “Art of Living” businessman, Ravi Shankar in Jaipur on 20th March, 2012, wherein he states that “Government schools are breeding grounds of violence and Naxalism ….that is why Government run schools and colleges must be handed over to private bodies….and that ‘Adarsh schools’ must reach all areas”. We would like to demand evidence from Ravi Shankar that Government schools, in which 16 crore children of the age group 6 to 14 years are studying are breeding grounds for violence and Naxalism. An army of Indian engineers, doctors, nurses, computer professionals, government servants army and police personnel and factory workers come from government schools. It would appear that this human resource that is the backbone of this country is wholly ‘Naxalite’ in the eyes of this completely irrational guru.
Continue reading On Sri Sri Ravi Shankar’s views about government-run schools
Some of the stronger protests and forceful political debates in Sri Lanka are taking place in relation to student rights, university teachers pay, allocation of government expenditure on education and inequalities relating to the Government’s private university bill. University students have been on the boil over issues from militarisation of the universities, including compulsory military training for entering university students last year, to attempts to ban student unions. University teachers carried out strike action for months last year extracting promises of higher pay and input into educational policy which were not carried forward with the Budget, leading to a token strike on January 17th. I wrote an article on the neoliberalisation of university education in the Sunday Island on Jan 15th discussing the larger project at work with the backing of the World Bank and IMF. Kumar David has written an article in the Jan 22nd issue of the Sunday Island explaining the z-scores scandal – about the Advanced Level exam results which are used for university entrance – and its relationship to the protests against the private university bill. The Young Asia Television in their episode of Connections today has documented the recent protests including some interviews with student leaders and university teachers. The uteachers blog is an excellent resource to find more articles and presentations by academics involved in the recent protests and actions. Historically, the universities have been a hot bed of protest as well as social and political change in Sri Lanka, and those in solidarity with progressive forces struggling for social justice in Sri Lanka may want to follow the protest movement gaining ground in the universities.
The Delhi University academic council’s decision to drop A.K. Ramanujan’s essay, ‘Three Hundred Ramayanas’, from the prescribed readings for BA (honours) history and BA (programme) students, brings back memories of Bombay University’s move to remove Rohinton Mistry’s novel Such a Long Journey from the syllabus. The victimisation of art-historian Shivaji Pannikkar by Baroda’s Maharaja Sayajirao University is another long and painful story. The many, many cases of books and plays being proscribed by various governments form the general climate in which our universities operate. Continue reading An act of Academic Compromise
Guest post by KUMAR RANA
Nothing seems to have changed in the past quarter decade. Past Jhargram, the town in the woods, the metal road connecting Lodhasuli to National Highway No. 6 wraps itself in a shady serenity. At occasional intervals, the artificiality of a clamour, emitted by a motor engine, creates an unquiet irritation, murdering the resonance of the forest and interrupting its slumber. The bus-stops at Kalabani and Boria are as lonely as they used to be; Gar-Salboni, a roadside village, is stuck in its eternal search for a path to survival. The mud road that breaks from the main road to meet the villages Sirsi, Joalbhanga and Lab-Kush, is as tranquil as it had been 25 years ago. Past the lush green rice fields by the road begins the forest that hems the horizon. The leaves that have just had a splash of shower glistens with the brilliance of the sun.
— Last year it was different, whispered the road.
— Yes, I have heard of it – there had been a drought. And it was the same in the year before the last. It used to follow a cycle like this 25 years ago. Rain ensures the crop. Hunger rides free when there is a drought.
Continue reading Silent changes amidst terror in the Jungle Mahal of West Bengal: Kumar Rana
Photographs by Amruta Mehta
Just when Shantuben held her meditative poise at a Vipassana camp at Igatpuri on the morning of January 26, 2001, her dream turned to rubble back home in Bhuj. When she reached home, her labour of love of the last 5 years was gone, razed to the ground. It all had to start afresh. Continue reading Few Hearts to Live for
A rather animated debate is on among different sections of the Muslims as also among the civil and the uncivil society in India about the Madrasa, their importance, the role they play and the need to make them more modern, thereby converting them into institutes that are more relevant to the contemporary requirements of both the Muslims and the market. The former is openly stated while the latter is rarely articulated.
Before proceeding with an exploration of some of these concerns and to try to understand the trigger behind the proselytising zeal to modernise the madrasa, let us understand the institution of the madrasa itself. Continue reading Muslim Madrasa Modernisation
The Central Educational Institution (Reservation and Admission) Act, 2006, which provides for 27 per cent reservation for Other Backward Classes (OBCs) in institutions of higher learning, is in a state of deep freeze. The Union Government’s desperate promises to expand the educational infrastructure in these institutions, to increase the number of seats so that the number of open quota seats will remain the same, and to address the issue of creamy layer, has failed to convince the Supreme Court. After a court battle of five long months, a Supreme Court Bench has finally refused to vacate the stay on the Act imposed in March 2007.
The Supreme Court’s objection to the Act is quite straightforward and seemingly reasonable. It posed to the Union Government, what is the basis on which the figure 27 per cent had been arrived at. The Union Government failed to come up with any credible answer and the Supreme Court, as one would expect, stuck to its position. In other words, Supreme Court wants no legislation to be arbitrary but be based on defendable rational basis.
Continue reading Perils of Arbitrariness – MSS Pandian