Repeated attempts by various right wing groups succeeded as the University hosted Arundhati Vashishtha Anusandhan Peeth which organised a seminar targeted to mobilise ‘public opinion for the Ram Janambhoomi temple’. The seminar drew criticism from both the academia and the students.
AVAP’s website mentions it as an organisation committed to ‘national resurgence’. The question that arises is what ‘resurgence’ means as the nation has technically never been in a better economic or social state. Is religion, that too just one and even of it, matters controversial, subjudice and potentially divisive, a proper thing to propagate in a central university? Ignoring protests by various student organisations outside the Arts Faculty, the seminar went smooth in confirming its polarising nature. Moreover, that the University administration failed to stop the ‘inevitable’ and ‘too late to be stopped’ seminar makes clear the hands-tied position of a central university. The varsity’s also in past faced criticism on the removal of A.K. Ramanujan’s essays in 2012 on the grounds of giving ‘inadequate information of the religion of Hinduism’. Active dissent if supported by substantive arguments forms the basis of democratic institutions and in a country like India which boasts the largest democratic structure, the institutions and not just the state in its entirety should be allowed dissent and liberal thought. The quintessential canvas of free thinking and expression, education and the institutions associated with the notion, should be allowed to function apolitically in order to ensure freedom of choice at an individual level. Imposition of a certain ideology on students can only bring about authoritarianism and despotism at a larger level later and restrict free thinking which forms the basis of democracy.
What happened at the university is a microcosm of what has been happening at a national level. The right wing’s move to control institutions of knowledge that could guarantee its perpetuation should be understood by the students in order to preserve the secular fabric of the nation. After the protests by students at the Jawaharlal Nehru University stopped Baba Ramdev for coming for a talk there, it seems that students, who are greatly and unknowingly affected by such ideological impositions, can after all resist the administration and decide for themselves what way of thinking and belief systems they want to adopt.
Image credits: Tooba Towfiq for DU Beat