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
Guest Post by UDITI SEN
Prof. Ranabir Samaddar of the Calcutta Research Group has recently published a screed (in the DNA Newspaper) against the #Hokkolorob movement initiated by the students of Jadavpur University which has found resonance with students and young people all over West Bengal and elsewhere in India. Samaddar, who seems to have lost the ability to recognize the many intersections of solidarity between students, young people in metropolitan as well as non-metropolitan contexts, women, young workers, accuses the movement of what he calls ‘elitism’ and a disconnect with realities on the ground.
Uditi Sen responds.
It is settled then. With this latest denunciation (by Ranabir Samaddar, in DNA, see link above) of the student movement at Jadavpur, we finally have a verdict we can trust. Student politics is not what it used to be. The glory days of the 60s are long gone and the protesting young today fail to live up to the authentic radicalism of their elders. Those were the days, indeed. Those were the days when student politics, organised under the banner of the organised left took up real issues, such as those of the peasants and workers and did not distract themselves with inequities closer to home. Such as, why women ‘comrades’ were expected to cook and clean and provide for their men, who led the vanguard. Such as why even the most progressive politics, when speaking of the rights of peasants, meant the rights of male peasants. Those indeed were the days of glory, which we should remember and seek to emulate, when the leaders, usually dadas, had no answers when a peasant woman asked, ‘“Why should my comrade beat me at home?” (See Samita Sen’s Toward a Feminist Politics: The Indian Women’s Movement in Historical Perspective)
Continue reading A Reply to Ranabir Samaddar on Jadavpur: Uditi Sen
Guest Post by Ahona Panda
About eight years ago, while lounging about doing nothing much in the campus of Jadavpur University where I was a student of the English department, I came across some callously etched graffiti:
Jodi prem na dile praane
Tobe Jadavpure pathanor ki mane?
(If you haven’t given this life some love–
What is the point of sending one to Jadavpur?)
Eight years on I cannot imagine the luxury of lounging about doing nothing much. One moves on in life after graduating from Jadavpur University. Meanwhile, in home and the world, the complete freedom (some will persist in calling this anarchy) of the JU campus has made it a legend somewhat like Dirty Harry: either worship and put it in on a pedestal, or condemn it thoroughly. The reputation of JU since the infamous 1970s has been as a hub of constantly bubbling anarchism, where Naxalites are hatching their next program of action, where ignorant armies like SFI and other anti-SFI groups clash by night.
Continue reading Notes from Jadavpur: Ahona Panda