Open letter to the President of India from Concerned students and faculty at the Indian Institute of Management Calcutta.
The President of India
Subject: An urgent appeal to address discrimination and political interference in academic institutions in the wake of the death of RohithVemula.
We, a group of students and faculty of the Indian Institute of Management Calcutta,expressour grief over the loss of the precious life of RohithVemula, a Dalit research scholar, at the University of Hyderabad.The events that transpired in the particular case were indeed tragic, with allegedinfringement of freedom of expression, caste discrimination and partisan interference by the higher State apparatus. This event is symptomatic of the larger malaise of failure of our institutions to provide a climate where students, irrespective of their social backgrounds, could find a way to excel. To create such a climate would require synchronised efforts in the parts of the State, the educational institutions and the society at large. Continue reading In solidarity with Rohith Vemula: Concerned students and faculty at the Indian Institute of Management, Calcutta
Dear young friends who went to Jhandewala on Rohith Vemula’s birthday,
And all those who were there in spirit, in Delhi, Hyderabad and elsewhere. I am writing to you because I think you might have all taken things much further than anyone can quite imagine or understand at present.
I am writing to you, for today and for tomorrow, so that every time in the future that young people gather to celebrate their friend Rohith’s birthday, we might all begin to have a different kind of conversation. So that the boundaries between mourning and celebration, between anger and joy may always remain blurred enough for us to know what to do next, each time.
Since you had a close encounter with the police and their colleagues in the RSS on Rohith’s birthday, I want to spend a little time thinking about them with you. Bear with me. I sincerely hope we will not have to bear with them for much longer.
Continue reading Operation Ekalavya : Jhandewala, New Delhi, Rohith Vemula’s Birthday, 30th January 2016
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
Close on the heels of the planned disruption of a speech by Siddharth Varadrajan, noted journalist and ex-editor of ‘The Hindu’ on the Allahabad University campus by members of the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (http://thewire.in/2016/01/23/editors-guild-condemns-abvp-threats-to-the-wires-founding-editor-20015/) has come the news that Sandeep Pandey, who has been working as a guest faculty in IIT-BHU for the last two and half years was recently threatened allgegedly by members of the same fraternity on the university campus itself.
It may be added here that Sandeep Pandey’s services were abruptly terminated by the university on the charge of being a naxalite and being involved in ‘anti-national’ activities (http://kafila.org/2016/01/11/letter-against-dismissal-of-prof-sandeep-pandey/). Looking at the aggressive manner in which members of the Hindutva fraternity seem to be moving it is quite possible that their threats will not remain merely at the level of words and one definitely perceives a danger to Sandeep’s well being at their hands. Continue reading Sandeep Pandey threatened by RSS persons on IIT-BHU campus
Meena Kandasamy in The Hindu:
Rohith, you have left behind your dream of becoming a science writer like Carl Sagan, and left us with only your words. Each of our words now carries the weight of your death, every tear carries your unrealised dream. We will become the explosive stardust that you speak of, the stardust that will singe this oppressive system of caste. Within every university, every college, every school in this country, each of our slogans will carry the spirit of your struggle. Dr. Ambedkar spoke of caste as the monster that crosses ones path every way one turns, and within the agraharams that are the Indian educational institutions, our very physical presence must embody the message of caste annihilation. Let every despicable casteist force wince when they encounter a Dalit, a Shudra, an Adivasi, a Bahujan, a woman staking claim within academia, let them realise that we have come here to end a system that has kept trying hard to put an end to us, that we have come here to cause nightmares to those who dared to snatch our dreams. Let them realise that Vedic times, the era of pouring molten lead into the ears of the Shudras who hear the sacred texts, the era of cutting the tongues of those who dared to utter the knowledge that was denied to them, are long gone. Let them understand that we have stormed these bastions to educate, to agitate, to organise; we did not come here to die. We have come to learn, but let the monsters of caste and their henchmen bear in mind that we have come here also to teach them an unforgettable lesson.
Read the rest of this tribute here.
RAVICHANDRAN BATHRAN in Tehelka
A person who is conscious of and sensitive about caste discrimination is certain to become alienated in every psychological, emotional, social and political sense in today’s campuses that breed free-market-loving, reservation hating students who benefit from caste-intensive social networks. This is why the Dalit and anti-caste students’ movement is crucial in democratising our campuses. These outfits question the present, past and future of the society we live in. They may be few in number and not always successful, but their actions are solely committed to the welfare of Dalit students as they have no other support system in our campuses. I am proud to say that many like me are the product of such movements in the universities.
Read the whole article here
Guest Post : Statement by New Socialist Initiative( NSI)
Comrade Rohith, we pay our deepest respects to you. We share your concerns. With you and like you we think that Systemic revolutions and great social transformations should go hand in hand. Rohith we fully agree with you that unless the oppressed are armed with scientific knowledge and rationality, revolution and emancipation remain elusive.
New Socialist Initiative pays its respects to Comrade Rohith Vemula, PhD scholar and student leader of University of Hyderabad. Rohith is not just a name of a scholar today. It has become a battle cry against the saffronisation of Indian education system. Rohith is the name of the relentless struggle against the upper caste domination in the institutions of higher education. Rohith has become a symbol of revolt against the decadence of our civilisation. Yes, Rohith committed suicide, killed himself, but not in desperation, not in fruitless vengeance. As his last words amply show, he seemed to be making a political and philosophical statement on the order of the things in this country, on the despicable manuvadi practices raising their ugly heads in the university campuses, on fascist targeting of Muslim minority community, on the rising intolerance and irrationality in our society.
Continue reading Long Live the Legacy of Comrade Vemula Rohith Chakravarthy : Statement by New Socialist Initiative (NSI)