Emphasising the significance of dissent in educational institutions, by illustrating the experiences of individuals in public and private universities across India.
There is a certain dynamic energy at display in the protests growing in universities across India; loud declarations calling out the law and order as well as the incumbent government, a complicit administration and those who continue to have their apolitical stances flourish in an environment of burgeoning discrimination and prejudice. The very fact that reading of the preamble and singing the national anthem in a University space has become a symbol of dissent, speaks volumes about the clampdown the authorities want to impose in educational institutions. But this time; the story, the goals and the dissemination is different. There’s a visible change in the air of erstwhile apolitical campuses, which have risen up in solidarity with those marginalised in this country.
Students of Jesus and Mary College (JMC), University of Delhi (DU) have led a silent protest outside the college campus every day since 8th January 2020. They stand against Citizen Amendment Act (CAA), police brutality, campus violence and in support with those being persecuted throughout the nation. This is a welcome change from the apolitical attitude of students in JMC, a women’s college which continues to not be associated to Delhi University Students’ Union (DUSU).
Anoushka Tiwari, a Journalism student at Sophia College for Women, University of Mumbai explained that it is the nature of her course that allows her peers to be invested in the politics of daily life, and comprehend the importance of protests in current times. Reading the preamble has become a bi-weekly ritual in college, and those of her classmates who didn’t indulge in politics before have realised the importance of educating themselves and standing up. She expressed her joy at Mumbai colleges emerging from their apolitical cocoons on the streets, using their privilege to dissent.
A lot is to be said about the ideologies and power structure of the administration prevalent in universities, which restrict the expression of dissent, with threats of expulsion and suspension. In such spaces, the use of authority is being challenged by students, who have come to recognize that the very thread or our constitution is at stake.
Bhumica Veera, a student at NMIMS KPM School of Law expressed her dismay over students of private universities being coerced into not releasing or deleting solidarity statements, which she explained is against the right of every student to dissent. “Till today we’ve not been given a written document signed by our dean telling us which exact rule have we violated? Nor have we been verbally told about it. When we asked what exactly constitutes as a political statement, we were given no verbal/written responses.” The students then proceeded to release a statement, quoting, “We will agitate. We will debate. We will question. It is our future. Stop patronizing and start listening. Maybe you’ll finally know why the kids aren’t alright. After all, we will outlive you”
Statement of students of NMIMS KPMSOL, against CAA and campus violence.
Image Credits: Bhumica Veera for NMIMS KPMSOl
“The students have risen up, finally. The students are the opposition. The students will resist, resist, resist.”
Feature Image Credits: Sanna Singh
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