Guest post by Waled Aadnan
It can be said that 86/1 College Street, Calcutta, has seen a microcosm of the history of modern India unfold within its walls. Since 1874 when the already fifty-nine year old Presidency College shifted to its current address, future Presidents and Prime Ministers of India, Pakistan and Bangladesh; Nobel Laureates, freedom fighters, an Academy Award winner, Bharat Ratnas; the leadership of the Naxalite movement of the 60s and 70s; and eminent judges, writers, journalists, scientists and actors, have spent their student days at 86/1.
Two years ago, soon after I joined the institution, the Left Front government upgraded Presidency College to the status of a state University in a last-gasp bid to hold on to the votes of the bhadralok intellectuals. 2012 dawned with no Student Union elections having been held the previous year, and it is in this backdrop that the following events unfold.
Salman Rushdie’s well-publicised ostracism from the Jaipur Literature Festival was met not with outrage in Presi’s canteen addas, but with the absence of even a poster put up in protest. News filtered in of a seminar in Symbiosis University being “threatened.” But little awareness existed among students who were more inclined to read tabloid-like, unputdownable newspapers than their relatively austere counterparts, including The Hindu which broke the story.