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Sorry, the old RaGa cannot come to the PressCon right now. Why? Oh, cause he’s dead. Let’s explore his journey from the Prince of Political Dynasty, to Pappu, and then Beyond.

Perhaps one of the most interesting things about the General Elections of 2024 was the escalated and expeditious participation from Generation Z, a large strata of whom finally got a direct vote in the election of the Government. This participation was also rooted in the Twitteratis and their constant political pundit-esque commentary that remained persistent throughout this apparent festival of democracy. From the viral “Dimple Bhabhi Hatiye…” tweet to the pookie-fication of Narendra Modi, nobody escaped the brunt of the internet folks. A leading player in the battle for the seat of prime minister was Rahul Gandhi, who displayed a staggering transformation. From him being posted to the edits of ‘Daddy’s Home‘, his subsequent babygirlification and portrayal as the Batman of Indian political scenario et.al., RaGa seemed to be a Twitter favorite; pre, midst, and post the election season. And this, comes as a surprise for someone who has long been ridiculed by both, the politicians and the masses, as ‘Pappu’.

When the National Democratic Alliance, on its third subsequent win, boasts about a new era of Modi 3.0, it is notable that this also embarks the beginning of RaGa 3.0. Something that is even more remarkable is how every epoch of his political career draws a direct parallel to the state of the current opposition in the country. In retrospect it might appear to be a vague statement, however, this opinion piece attempts to substantiate the same, and for that, the political trajectory of Rahul Gandhi needs to be analyzed in a trifactorial manner.

In a political climate that was being conditioned for Priyanka Gandhi to be the new face of the Indian National Congress, with the re-emphasization of her parallels to Indira Gandhi, the launch of Rahul Gandhi as the face of INC was a rather unanticipated change for the politicians and the masses alike. In a direct parallel to Rajneeti (the 2010 Prakash Jha Directiorial’s) Samar Pratap, played by Ranbir Kapoor, ‘a foreign returned relatively less-known to-and-of the political scenario‘ heir was placed into the position of a party supremo. However, that is where the parallels end, while Samar goes on to become a force to reckon with, RaGa displayed a relatively inconsistent political profile. His political prowess at that time focused largely upon as the ‘uniter’ of the nation, working on reducing the caste and religion-based divisiveness in the country. Subsequently, he won from the ancestral seat of Amethi and was popularised as the Yuva Neta, and harbinger of justice, by the media. However, despite this popularised imagery that he had cultivated around himself, he refused to hold positions of power within the INC and rather struck to the youth wings. The launch of RaGa drew a parallel into the INC as it witnessed a rejuvenation of the Gandhi Parivaar within the leadership positions, after 14 years of absence, albeit in an indirect mannerism with Manmohan Singh being the Prime Minister then.

Post the smooth and apparent surged political prowess, the era of Rahul Gandhi 2.0 comes into play with the elections of 2014 and beyond; the General Election of 2014, posed a drastic change in the climate of the Indian Political Scenario, wherein the 10-year streak of the INC was fiercely shattered by the National Democratic Alliance and its figurehead, present Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The dramatic downfall of the INC marked the beginning of RaGa as the undisputed King of Bloopers and the face of Indian Political Memes, the person who was hailed as the Prince of the Politically Dynastic Gandhi Parivar was now ridiculed as ‘Pappu’, and worse. The lack of a proper redressal mechanism from the INC upon the same, and RaGa’s subsequent infamous statements like the ‘potato-gold‘ alchemy theory, the hug in the parliament, misgendering of the Speaker, et.al., cemented the NDA alliances claim of the ‘Shehzada’, in attempts to mock his lack of proper developmental work despite the privilege he was equipped with. A subsequent political debacle also surrounded the Indian National Congress, as it witnessed the lowest-ever tally of 44 seats post the 206-seat mark they achieved in 2009.

Post the 2019 stint of the National Democratic Alliance, and its subsequent chants of Abki Baar, 400 Paar; the public expectation from the erstwhile political bigwig declined, and an absolute majority of the present ruling party was largely accepted and anticipated. Despite the anti-heroic downfall that the INC witnessed, he kept walking (quite literally) and conducted two Nyay Yatras, which is speculated to have become a source of connection between the common man and the INC, and the reason for its subsequent victory in certain places. His newfound oratory skills and social media tactics labeled RaGa as the herald of the change of the apparent de-Modicisation and Democratization of the country. The connection that he attempted to build at a grassroots level, and better redressal skills, led to a surge in the INDIA vote bank, and a subsequent declination in the expected votes for the NDA.

However, RaGa’s relatively newer 3.0 trajectory did not stop there, the 1st July speech in the parliament, ended the era of his silence and negligence regarding the political climate and the flaws of the NDA, as he delivered a speech outlining the very same. The Speech won him further accolades over social media, as the netizens proclaimed that the tectonics of the Indian Political Scenario witnessed a shift that day, the void of an improper Leader of Opposition seemed to be filling. This is followed by his recent visits to places that have been impacted by violence and improper governance like Manipur, Assam, site of Hathras Stampede, loco pilots of Delhi, et.al. This is a clear indication of a political consistency, which he is infamously unknown of. The transition from Pappu to the Leader of Opposition, depicts a shift in the political ball game of the country, a probable subdued indication of the resurgence of the INC, and a new arena into his political trajectory. However, it remains long to be seen whether this political conundrum turns out to be a sham, or has Prime Minister Narendra Modi finally found an able competitor.

Read Also: Saffron Politics: A Path To Majoritarianism

Featured Image Credits: X

Shikhar Pathak

[email protected]

DUSU Vice President, Abhi Dahiya, filed a complaint with the Delhi University Vice-chancellor on Friday, 5 July 2024, against the DUSU President Tushar Dedha alleging that, “he produced a false affidavit to contest elections.” However, Tushar Dedha has denied such allegations.

On Friday, 5 July 2024, DUSU (Delhi University Student Union) Vice President – Abhi Dahiya, filed a complaint against the DUSU President Tushar Dedha, with the Delhi University Vice-chancellor, alleging that the latter used “illegal means” to get admission to the University and produced a false affidavit to contest elections.

(Image Source: Abhi Dahiya via Instagram)

Incidentally, this is not the first time a DUSU President has been (allegedly) “exposed” for using illegal means to secure admission into the University. In 2018, the former ABVP-led DUSU President Ankiv Baisoya was involved in a similar incident. Following the NSUI presidential candidate Sunny Chillar’s challenge to Baisoya’s elections on the same grounds, the then-DUSU President resigned from his position and has been sacked by the ABVP. This occurred when his bachelor’s degree from Thiruvalluvar University in Tamil Nadu was found to be fraudulent. 

Abhi Dahiya, in conversation with DU Beat, spoke out about the issue:

“The current DUSU President, Tushar Dedha has used ‘illegal means’ to gain admission within Delhi University. As per the records, the DUSU President holds two examination marksheets of intermediate class (Standard 12)- one from CBSE in Arts examination and the other from Madyamik Siksha Parishad Uttar Pradesh in Science Stream. How is it possible for one person to pass from two boards at two different places with two different streams? We urge the University to take stringent action against him as he does not deserve to remain the President for another minute, let alone an entire year.”

In his official complaint filed to the Vice-Chancellor of Delhi University, the Vice President of Delhi University’s Student Union cites that:

“As per the record received, he (Tushar Dedha) has two examination certificate/marksheets of intermediate class (12th), one from CBSE in Arts stream having roll number 9130384 and the other from Madyamik Siksha Parishad Uttar Pradesh in Science stream having roll number 0322496 District/School code 06/1328 both passed in year 2016 as a regular student.That as per the rules of both CBSE and Uttar Pradesh Board. It is mandatory for the regular student to have 75% attendance to appear in the 12th board examination and also, he has not passed equivalent Examination from any other Board.  However, in case of Mr. Tushar Dedha, he holds two marksheets from two different Boards, both passed in year 2016 which is in total of Examination by-laws of CBSE and Madyamik Siksha Parishad Uttar Pradesh Board and therefore, both the mark-sheets are void.”

While speaking to DU Beat, Abhi Dahiya also notes that:

Such illegal means have fooled the students of the University who put a lot of faith in their elected candidates while voting and we are looking forward to the University administration to take appropriate measures post the complaint by NSUI.”

 

Image Credits: Abhi Dahiya on  X

The DU Beat team was unable to reach Tushar Dedha, but he took to his Instagram on 6 July, 2024, in response to the allegations:

 

“NSUI cannot digest the fact that a student hailing from a village, hailing from a backward class, not only contested elections for the post of DUSU President, but also won. My admission to the UG and PG programs at the university is fair, authentic and legal. They can approach any organisation for verification, and all their allegations would prove to be baseless. On the contrary, there are many student leaders of NSUI, against whom there have been allegations and ongoing investigation of fraudulent admissions and paper leaks. The fact that NSUI has remained silent on cases of 19 paper leaks in Congress-ruled Rajasthan, goes on to show their hypocrisy.”

 

Besides NSUI, several student political-parties of the left-bloc have taken their stance related to the issue.SFI Kamla Nagar Joint Secretary Aditi, spoke to DU Beat, reiterating SFI’s stance on the matter:

 

“The fact that this fraudulent action ‘escaped’ the eyes of the DU administration that is otherwise so strict about the document verification process, to the point that it puts the futures of so many common students at risk over issues in documents, does not seem like a mere coincidence. This issue also brings into question the authenticity of the educational qualifications of other DUSU office bearers and candidates. Students do not want frauds as their leaders. The DU administration should stop supporting the fraud of ABVP-led DUSU and penalise the goons who take admission using illegal measures to contest elections”

In a consolidatory stance, AISA (All India Students Association) took to its social media pages to question the ‘DU Admin and ABVP Nexus’ and alleged that: 

While DU Admin goes ahead with implementation of NEP through fee hikes, FYUP, SEC, VAC, seat cuts, fund cuts, graded autonomy and bulldozes social justice and gender justice, it lets its stooge ‘Akhil Bharatiya Violence Parishad loose on students resisting their exclusion and marginalization.”

Tushar Dedha graduated in BA Programme from Satyawati College in 2019 and is currently pursuing his post-graduation in MA (Buddhism) from Delhi University. Adding to the uproar of student political leaders on social media, NSUI National President, Varun Choudhary shared a copy of the complaint and Tushar Dedha’s marksheet on X and alleged:

“DUSU President Tushar Dedha made a fake 12th mark sheet from UP Board and CBSE Board in 2016 and ABVP gave him a student union ticket in 2023. ABVP and SCAM party leaders are relying on fake mark sheets. The DU administration should immediately take strict action.”

While the debacle brews on, DU Registrar Vikas Gupta cited to The Indian Express that:

The issue has reached us and we will take a look into it on Monday.”

As per recent updates, the complaint demands that the results of DUSU Presidential elections be declared null and void and Dedha be sacked from his position. However, Dedha denied any wrongdoing and said he will file a defamation case.

Read Also: The Politicised Pareshani of DUSU 2023

Featured Image Credits: Arush Gautam for DU Beat

Gauri Garg 

[email protected]

Priyanka Mukherjee 

[email protected]

Recent heavy rainfall in the capital on June 28 has exposed severe infrastructural issues, particularly at the Arts Faculty, where the reading room experienced significant water leakages and short circuits. Additionally, other esteemed educational institutes like IIT Delhi and AIIMS Delhi are also witnessing an equally miserable fate.

As Delhi University continues its yearly ritual of exorbitant fee hikes—110% in PhD courses and 40% in annual postgraduate courses—it is important to note that the condition in which DU students have to study remains deplorable. These problems clearly reflect the university’s incompetence and disregard for student safety.

The Students’ Federation of India (SFI) DU’s Instagram page, @sfiduspeaks, posted a reel highlighting the miserable state of one of India’s premier institutions. Captioned “Save Public Education! Save Delhi University! Fee Must Fall!”, the post called for immediate action from the university to address these infrastructural issues. SFI Vijay Nagar has also demanded urgent measures to fix these problems and ensure student safety, noting that the lack of basic amenities like air conditioning in classrooms becomes unbearable when temperatures in Delhi soar to 48 degrees Celsius. The third building, made with makeshift materials like tin roofs and asbestos-lined walls, exacerbates the heat issue, creating an uninhabitable learning environment.

Simran, from SFI DU, in a conversation with DU Beat, said, “Since there is no maintenance in these reading rooms at Arts Faculty, due to heavy rain, the ceiling started to leak and then a short circuit happened, and soon fire also occurred out of nowhere. The main problem is that despite increasing fees they are not improving infrastructure and maintenance at all.”

Additionally, a press release by SFI Delhi University, dated June 27, 2024, highlighted student protests against the fee hikes in postgraduate courses. Students criticized the apathetic Delhi University administration and the ABVP-led Delhi University Students’ Union (DUSU) for their silence on the rising education costs. It showcased how fee hikes place a heavy financial burden on students, undermining the principles of publicly funded education and limiting opportunities. Despite the fee hikes in previous academic years, there has been no corresponding improvement in infrastructure. Students of the well-known Law Faculty often find their campus without even a single functioning water cooler, all while bearing Delhi’s scorching heat.

In addition to Delhi University, other premier institutes in Delhi have also been severely affected by the heavy rainfall. AIIMS Delhi experienced similar issues with severe water leakage on June 28, highlighting the widespread infrastructural problems across top educational institutions in the city.

At IIT Delhi, a viral video showed a pillar collapsing in the placement cell building following the heavy rainfall. This incident led to the disconnection of electricity in some areas for safety reasons. An official email from the Institute Engineer detailed the flooding on campus and stated that maintenance teams are working to restore services. The email requested cooperation from the campus community and apologized for the inconvenience.

These incidents at Delhi University, AIIMS Delhi, and IIT Delhi highlight the urgent need for infrastructural changes and better maintenance protocols, it’s indeed high time that these educational institutes make upgrades to ensure the safety and well-being of their student body, who have come from faraway places in the country to study in “premier institutes” in the capital. Despite significant fee hikes, these institutions have failed to invest adequately in their infrastructure, leading to dangerous and unacceptable learning conditions. As students and stakeholders wonder, “Where is our money going?”, they are now demanding accountability and immediate improvements to their educational environments.

Featured image credits: Devesh for DU Beat

Read Also: TISS Dismisses and Reinstates Staff Following Funding Assurance from TATA Education Trust

Kavya Vashisht

[email protected]

An event by the student group ‘Brahmins of DU’, sponsored by the University of Delhi, was supposed to be held on May 10, 2024, i.e., Friday. However, the event faced protests from the left-bloc of student politics, alleging casteist and discriminatory sentiments, causing the event to be consequently canceled.

In the continual skepticism over the democratic nature of Delhi University and the inherent ‘saffronization’ and ‘brahmanization’ that is allegedly being promoted by the university, there was yet another DU-Admin-sponsored event organized by the student wing, ‘Brahmins of DU’. The university-wide association announced an event titled ‘Brahmins and the Tapestry of Hindu Civilization: Weaving Bhartiya Heritage and Calling Astikas to Fulfill Rșiṛṇa  that was programmed to take place on May 10, 2024, at the Conference Center of the North Campus, along with a campus-wide ‘Shobha Yatra‘ on the same day.

The event received widespread backlash from the student community, citing its alleged casteist approach. This was further vitalized by claims from Professor Abha Dev Habib, an Assistant Professor at DU, who, in conversation with EdexLive, cited a recent example of how events are being ‘policed’ and ‘restricted’ and a poetry reading session on the Palestinian crisis that was supposed to be held on April 15 was canceled by the university ‘without citing any valid reason’. In opposition to the event by ‘Brahmins of DU’, the Students’ Federation of India (SFI), under the umbrella of Humans of DU, organized a parallel event on the same date, i.e., May 10, 2024, at the Arts Faculty. The event organized was a photo exhibition and open mic themed around the ‘Saffronization’ of DU and against the ‘Normalization of Casteist Politics on the Campus’. Students university-wide joined the event in solidarity with the cause and presented their ideas, pieces, and writings, and the words of prominent Dalit writers like Omprakash Valmiki were also echoed.

Aditi, State Committee Member SFI Delhi, adds about how the undertakings in the university are a “direct reflection of the societal tapestry of our country”, expressing her fear over an ‘uncertain future’ wherein incidents like the “recent TISS debacle could be replicated in Delhi University”. She further states that, with opposition events like this:

 we will not let them destroy the dissent, debate, and other progressive nature of our campus.

Besides SFI, the All India Student Association, AISA, also made a post on Instagram condemning the event, stating:

Their ideologies promote hatred, discrimination, and division, which directly contradict the values of equality, solidarity, and social justice.

While the SFI Event was an alleged success in presenting their opposition to the events and undertakings held by the group Brahmins of DU, the event organized by Brahmins of DU did not materialize. In a consequent press release, SFI states that fervent backlash and dissent from “progressive student pressure groups” and political bodies compelled the administration to call off the event organized by ‘Brahmins of DU’ eventually.

Read Also: TISS Scholar Suspended for Two Years Due to ‘Anti-National Acts’ and Protests Outside Parliament

Featured Image Credits: SFI Official Instagram

Shikhar Pathak

[email protected]

 

 

In the heart of Maharashtra’s sugarcane fields, a sinister reality unfolds as women laboring
for giants like Pepsi and Coca-Cola face exploitation through forced hysterectomies,
overshadowed by corporate profits.

About a third of the sugar produced in India, the second-largest producer in the world, comes
from the state of Maharashtra alone. Maharashtra is a key supplier of sugar to global
corporations such as PepsiCo, Coca-Cola, and Mondelez, the parent company of Cadbury. The state
prides itself on the sprawling 1.487 million hectares of lush sugar cane fields with about
203 crushing factories producing 138 lakh metric tons of sugar every year becoming the
state’s major support system. One such district is Beed, although this one in particular is one
that the state shouldn’t be proud of.

This picturesque field of Maharashtra hides a darker reality – the exploitation of women at the
hands of sugar-producing companies. While these companies reap immense profits from the
sweet harvest, the women toiling in the fields are left to endure the bitter impacts on their
health. The issue dates back almost 30 years, when the New York Times interviewed some of
the women working in the fields to find out that the vicious cycle starts with underage girls
getting married off to the men working in the field which ropes them into a contract that seems more like lifelong slavery than wedlock. The men and women are expected to work alike at the same potential for 16-hour-long shifts every day without breaks. Tampons and pads are expensive and hard to find, and without access to running water, women address their periods in the fields with reused cloth that they try to wash by hand. The fields are located in remote locations, and it’s a whole other world in itself with workers
living under tarps, and companies seeking forced hysterectomies as a way to combat the issue of
lack of washrooms on the field.

One local government report surveyed approximately 82,000 female sugarcane workers from
Beed and found that about one in five had had hysterectomies. A separate, smaller
government survey estimated the figure at one in three. Women, already marginalized and
disadvantaged, are coerced into undergoing these surgeries under the guise of ‘health
benefits’ or as a means to prevent pregnancy or period leaves from work. This reprehensible
practice not only robs women of their bodily autonomy but also perpetuates a cycle of
systematic abuse and inequality. The issue at hand unveils a centuries-old taboo enveloping
menstruation, casting a shadow of “unsanitary” perceptions upon women during their natural
cycle. This mindset, steeped in misconception and bias, tragically manifests in the coercion of
women into undergoing hysterectomies, all in the name of the illusion of “cleanliness” on the
fields.

According to the New York Times, sugar producers and buyers have known about this abusive system for years. Coca-Cola’s consultants, for example, visited the fields and sugar mills of western India and, in 2019, reported that children were cutting sugar cane and laborers were working to repay their employers. They documented this in a report for the company, complete with an interview with a 10-year-old girl. In an unrelated corporate report that year, the company said it supported a program to “gradually reduce child labor” in India possibly referring to their plans to increase hysterectomies. This Great Indian exploitation game is nothing less of a spectacle, when women working in these harsh conditions visit the nearby gynecologists with problems like forming of cysts and irregular periods, the doctors take advantage of their patients’ illiteracy and are given an ultimatum that “hysterectomy” is their only option. The whole process is orchestrated not only by the companies but also many health practitioners from the district. These major companies even have moral codes of conduct for their workers which they evidently throw out the window in a bid to make corporate profits. After facing backlash and solely because people threatened to boycott the brand, Pepsi released the most generic statement expressing their grief over the issue while Coca-Cola still hasn’t issued a statement and continues to live in ignorance.

Of the many stories that flood the Indian news channels, none have ever made reports on this
issue, it’s as if they would rather turn a deaf ear than face the truth. In conversations with
reporters from The Fuller Project, as the workers gave them a peek inside their lives, they
sang folk songs which were inspired by Bhimrao Ambedkar in unison and had only thing to
ask everyone who visits the field, a promise; that one day the world will know their plight.

Featured Image Credits: The Fuller Project

Read Also: Feminism: A Belief or a Tagline?

Saanvi Manchanda
[email protected]

Delhi University’s scheduled ‘Run for Developed India’ event on May 8, aimed at raising awareness of India’s developmental aspirations, faces backlash over alleged political affiliations amidst ongoing Lok Sabha elections. While university officials maintain non-partisanship, the involvement of a BJP member in planning sparks concern. Critics, including the Delhi University Teachers’ Front (DTF), accuse the administration of breaching the Election Commission’s Model Code of Conduct. Amidst debates, the DTF urges cancellation, citing potential disruption to academic schedules and electoral integrity concerns.

 Nearly 5,000 students are anticipated to participate in Delhi University’s (DU) May 8 “Run for Developed India,” according to the university’s registrar, Vikas Gupta. The university declared that the run’s objective is to increase public awareness of India’s aspiration to become a developed country by 2047.

In response to queries concerning the event’s scheduling in light of the current Lok Sabha elections and the Model Code of Conduct’s (MCC) implementation, Gupta made it clear to The Indian Express that the run has no affiliation with any one political party. He underlined that the main goal is to inspire students to use their right to vote to engage in the political process.

The University of Delhi and the Vikas Bharat Ambassador Club are co-organizing the event, the university declared. However, Kuljeet Chahal of the BJP was present at the planning and success-ensuring meeting. Chahal, a member of the New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC) and the national convener of the Namo app, describes himself on X (formerly Twitter) as a “Viksit Bharat Ambassador.” There was no response when attempts were made to contact Chahal. The 2.4-kilometer run is scheduled to happen between University Gate No. 1 and the University sports complex, neither of which is governed by the NDMC, according to the university.

With the release of the election dates on March 16, the Model Code of Conduct (MCC) went into force. In an announcement posted on its website on March 21, the Election Commission of India’s (ECI) Secretariat ordered the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology to stop “disseminating messages about Viksit Bharat during the Model Code of Conduct.” About WhatsApp messages sent on March 15, before the implementation of the MCC, the statement mentioned that “some messages may have been delivered late due to system architecture and network limitations.

The Commission further received complaints indicating that such messages continue to be delivered to citizens’ phones. “Given that the Model Code of Conduct (MCC) is currently in effect, you are instructed to take immediate measures to halt the dissemination of WhatsApp messages during the MCC period. A report confirming compliance with this directive should be provided promptly,” it continued.

When questioned about obtaining permission from the ECI, Gupta responded:

This event is organized by the university and colleges to inspire students. We are not collaborating with any political party or involving any ministry.

In a joint statement, the teachers’ body declared that “Viksit Bharat” is an election agenda for Narendra Modi and the BJP-led Central government. The university was urged to cancel the event by members of the Delhi University Teachers’ Front (DTF). However, the teachers’ organization claimed that the program is being run against the Election Commission’s (EC) Model Code of Conduct, which was in effect during the Lok Sabha elections.

The teachers’ body noted in its statement that:

Previously, the EC had legally admonished the Union Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology for circulating messages about the ‘Viksit Bharat Abhiyan’ in March 2024.

The forthcoming event is not politically connected, and it should be judged on its own merits rather than its affiliation with any one party.

– stressed A. K. Bhagi, president of the DU Teachers’ Association.

The teachers association stated:

In the run-up to this proposed violation of the model code of conduct, a functionary of the ruling party in the incumbent Union government has been involved in preparatory activities. It is clear that a public institution is seeking to be converted into an appendage of the outgoing ruling dispensation to influence the decisions of voters. If this were not the case, then this event could have been scheduled for a date after the Lok Sabha elections have been concluded. Surely, Bharat needs Vikas through an Abhiyan even after the first week of June 2024.

In a statement made public on Friday, the DTF questioned the rationale offered by the Delhi University administration for putting on the event. It was suggested that the event should have been called “Run for Participative Democracy” rather than “Run for Viksit Bharat” if the goal was to raise awareness of and participation in the Lok Sabha elections. Moreover, the DTF maintains that the Election Commission should have been consulted and involved in advance of any event intended to raise voter awareness and participation.

Nandita Narain, president of the DTF, voiced worries about how the event would affect the students, saying:

Delhi University is failing in its responsibility towards students. Colleges will be forced to send students to this event. It is the fag end of the teaching-learning calendar. Practical exams are already scheduled, and students are busy preparing for exams and submissions. Scheduling this event at such a time will disrupt the teaching-learning process as well as the ability of students to prepare themselves academically for the forthcoming end-semester exams.

The Delhi University administration came under fire from the DTF for what they saw as an attempt to compromise the university’s standing as a public institution and break the Model Code of Conduct that the Election Commission was enforcing in light of the Lok Sabha elections. They demanded that the event be called off right away.

Read Also: DUTA Demands Release of Salaries and other Dues

Featured Image Credits: Himanshu Kumar for DU Beat

Divya Malhotra

[email protected]

 

 

Back in the director’s chair after Dhobi Ghat (2010), Kiran Rao takes over the cinema by serving the right blend of simplicity, humor, and wit in a cup of gentle feminism.

Significantly departing from the typical Indian cinema landscape, which often perpetuates regressive and hypermasculine ideals, Kiran Rao’s film embraces a nuanced form of feminism, delicately highlighting the uncomfortable realities within society that often silence women and strip them of agency in various aspects of life. The film beautifully captures the journey of ‘Laapata Ladies’ (Lost Women) who ultimately discover their true selves and emerge empowered by the end.

Written by Sneha Desai, the story is set up in the fictitious central state of Nirmal Pradesh, where Kumar (Srivastava) is on his way back home after marrying Phool Kumari (Goel). Amidst the hurried chaos of changing trains at night, he mistakenly grabs Pushpa’s hand and rushes off the train with her. It’s only upon reaching the village that he realizes the bride swap, setting off a series of comedic and heartfelt moments. Throughout the movie, the ‘tamboo-jaisa ghoonghat‘ or veil remains a powerful symbol of societal constraints, yet it is not held accountable by the elders for the challenges it poses in identifying women, ultimately leading to the swap. As the story unfolds, Jaya finds herself in Deepak’s joint family by mistake, while Phool is left stranded at the charming Pateela railway station. Here, Phool forms a unique bond with the station’s residents, including the firm yet empathetic tea kiosk owner, Manju Mai (Chhaya Kadam).

The two brides, Pushpa and Phool, are portrayed with distinct personalities. Pushpa’s mysterious nature attracts suspicion from Shyam Manohar, who closely monitors her activities. On the other hand, Phool, feeling out of place at the railway station, forms friendships with individuals working at Manju Mai’s. Kiran Rao’s perspective in the film shines through in her portrayal of empowerment for women on both sides of the spectrum: those who venture out to study and pursue their dreams, as well as those who find empowerment and fulfillment in being homemakers, departing from the ideals of a bashing feminism that solely focuses on women stepping out.

Breaking away from the conventional narrative of “aurat hi aurat ki dushman hoti hai” (women are each other’s enemies), the film also beautifully showcases the power of women bonding and supporting each other. Whether it’s through Manju Mai’s direct conversations with Phool, Jaya’s determined efforts to bring her back home, or Jaya refusing to be lost in the monotony of daily life and helping to uncover the hidden artistic talent of Poonam’s drawing in the process, Kiran Rao skillfully explores the theme of women bonding in the film.

Beyond the female characters, it’s also the male characters that become the heart of the film. Shyam Manohar (Ravi Kishan), the village cop, delivers some witty one-liners and punchlines, keeping the audience laughing out loud throughout the film. It was even Kishan’s transformation depicted in the end who proved to be a greasy-police officer but also someone whose conscience has not been completely corrupted. Srivastav’s portrayal of Deepak in the perfect shades is flawless. Despite occasional fumbles, his profound English and responsible actions toward Pushpa, despite missing Phool, define him as a well-rounded character. His stellar performance adds up to capturing the audience’s hearts.

The film not only captures the lows of the village, highlighting pesticide-driven crops, corruption, and the sickened societal mindset, but also artfully captures the nostalgic essence and romanticism associated with railways. It portrays not only the trains and stations but also offers us samosas and chai. Additionally, it transports viewers to the charming aspects of rural life, spanning from the era of Nokia mobile phones in the early 2000s to Mai’s bread-pakoras, with a little scold on asking for extra green chutney again!

The beauty of ‘Laapata Ladies’ lies in its ‘addressal’ of various issues of gender dynamics, marriage, dowry, education, individual rights, agriculture, and scientific thinking, but without becoming overly preachy or trivializing the gravity of these concerns. The essence of Rao’s film is in its carefree spirit, playful and lively tone, and ability to approach serious topics with a light touch. Exemplifying a cinema that is astute and thoughtful yet spontaneous and genuine, “Laapata Ladies” is akin to a comforting chai-pakora experience. It tackles pertinent issues while also embracing the audience with a giant, warm hug.

Read Also: An Attempt at Feminist Validation: Animal

Featured Image Credits: Kindling Pictures/Aamir Khan Productions/Jio Studios

Dhairya Chhabra

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JNU VC Santishree Dhulipudi Pandit emphasized that JNU was never anti-national, and the institution is not subjected to saffronization, following the University’s 20th ranking in QS World Rankings for development studies.

In a recent meeting with the editors of the Press Trust of India (PTI), Santishree Dhulipudi Pandit, the first female Vice-Chancellor of Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), addressed various aspects concerning the university’s current state and its past challenges. Ms. Pandit emphasized that despite speculations, JNU is not subjected to saffronisation or undue pressure from the Central Government in its daily operations. She asserted, “As a university, we should be above all this. JNU is for the nation, not for any particular identity.”

Acknowledging the presence of divisions on campus during her tenure, Ms. Pandit termed that period “unfortunate”. She attributed errors to both the administration and the students, acknowledging the mishandling of the situation by the leadership. 

I think that phase was bad, and there were mistakes on both sides, and because of polarization and the leadership not understanding… You have to understand that people will differ and argue. The university was never anti-national. When I studied (at JNU) it was the height of the Left’s dominance, even then nobody was anti-national.” – Ms. Pandit remarked.

Furthermore, she openly declared her affiliation with the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), stating that she neither conceals nor regrets it. 

Ms. Pandit reaffirmed JNU’s commitment to fostering dissent, discussion, and democracy, asserting that the university has never been “anti-national” or associated with the “tukde-tukde” gang. She stressed the university’s dedication to inclusivity and development, encapsulated in the seven principles of Development, Democracy, Dissent, Diversity, Debate and Discussion, Difference, and Deliberation.

Reflecting on her journey, Ms. Pandit shared details from her birth in St. Petersburg, Russia, to her upbringing in a middle-class South Indian family in Chennai. When she assumed the position of Vice-Chancellor in 2022, the University was grappling with student unrest, compounded by the aftermath of the 2016 incident involving purportedly anti-national slogans being raised on campus. 

I believe there was a phase of unfortunate ignorance on the part of the administration regarding JNU.”- she commented. 

Regarding this tumultuous phase, Ms. Pandit acknowledged mistakes on both sides and criticized the leadership’s attempt to control the situation, emphasizing the inevitability of disagreements and the importance of handling extreme viewpoints with understanding.

You have to accept that disagreements and arguments will arise. The college never held anti-national views. Even at the height of Left dominance, when I studied (at JNU), nobody was anti-national.” – Ms. Pandit reflected. 

The meeting concluded with Ms. Pandit’s reaffirmation of JNU’s commitment to its core principles and her dedication to steering the university towards inclusive growth and academic excellence.

Read Also: ABVP and Left Front Clash Ahead of JNUSU 2024 Elections

Featured Image Credits: Hindustan Times 

Divya Malhotra

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Naima Khatoon Gulrez, recently appointed as Aligarh Muslim University’s first female Vice Chancellor, faces controversy over her appointment amid allegations of nepotism. 

Naima Khatoon Gulrez, the principal of Aligarh Muslim University’s Women’s College since 2014, has been designated as the University’s inaugural female vice chancellor. She reportedly assumed office as the new VC on the evening of April 22. However, her appointment has been accompanied by complexities, controversies, and overarching implications, including the nuanced interplay of institutional governance and familial ties.

Naima Khatoon’s elevation to the esteemed position of Aligarh Muslim University’s (AMU) first woman Vice-Chancellor marks a pivotal moment in the institution’s storied history as she becomes the first woman to hold the position in the University’s 123-year history. Emerging from a modest family background in Jajpur district, Odisha, she is the only other woman to have held a top post at AMU since Begum Sultan Jahan, who was appointed as the Chancellor of AMU in 1920. Her professional journey includes serving as Professor and Chairperson of the Department of Psychology before assuming the role of Principal at Women’s College in July 2014. She has a diverse background, having taught at the National University of Rwanda, Central Africa, and fulfilling various administrative roles at AMU. She has authored, co-authored, or edited six books and published numerous papers in national and international journals. Additionally, she has supervised fifteen Ph.D. theses and a considerable number of dissertations, specializing in clinical, health, applied social, and spiritual psychology.

However, her journey to this ground-breaking appointment unfolds against a backdrop of intricate institutional dynamics and heightened scrutiny. 

Central to the discourse is the prominent role played by Professor Mohammad Gulrez, the outgoing acting AMU VC and Khatoon’s husband, as he chaired the meeting that included her on the list. The involvement of Gulrez in the selection process sparked contentious debates regarding potential conflicts of interest and allegations of nepotism, casting a shadow over the transparency and fairness of the proceedings. These challenges were mounted in the Allahabad High Court, alleging procedural irregularities, with petitioners questioning the integrity of the process. However, the petition was ultimately dismissed, allowing Khatoon’s appointment to proceed.

The AMU Court shortlisted three candidates for the position and forwarded their names to President Droupadi Murmu for final selection in November last year. Professor Muzaffar Uruj Rabbani, former Dean, Faculty of Medicine, AMU, and Professor Faizan Mustafa, V-C, Chanakya National Law University, Patna, were the other contenders for the position.

This intersection of academia and politics lends an additional layer of complexity to Khatoon’s inauguration. Against the backdrop of the looming Lok Sabha election, the timing of Khatoon’s appointment assumes added significance, with observers interpreting it within the broader context of political maneuvering and outreach efforts to Muslim women by the BJP government. The significance of her role extends beyond the University campus, resonating with the broader Muslim community in India and abroad. In this light, Gulrez’s appointment was reportedly ratified by the Election Commission (EC) with the stipulation that it would not be publicised, and no political advantage would be derived from it. The EC’s approval was conveyed to the Education Ministry on April 9. Khatoon’s appointment is for a period of five years or until she reaches the age of 75, whichever comes first, according to an official notification from AMU. 

Founded in 1875, Muhammadan Anglo-Oriental College was renamed AMU in 1920, becoming one of the oldest universities in India. Despite its long history, AMU has never had a woman vice-chancellor until Naima Khatoon’s appointment. As she embarks on her tenure, Khatoon’s appointment holds profound implications for the future trajectory of AMU, with the AMU community eagerly anticipating her vision. In navigating the complexities of her new role, Khatoon faces the challenge of upholding fairness, transparency, and impartiality, as acknowledged by the Aligarh Muslim Teachers’ Association (AMUTA).

Despite the controversy surrounding the selection process, including challenges raised in the Allahabad High Court, Khatoon’s appointment reflects a step forward in breaking traditional barriers within AMU’s leadership structure. 

Read Also: Kerala’s SIO Protests Against PM Modi’s Anti-Muslim Comments 

Featured Image credits: Indian Express

Kavya Vashisht

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The Kerala unit of the SIO (Students Islamic Organization of India) took to the streets of Kochi to protest against Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s rhetoric targeting Muslims during the election campaign in Rajasthan.

On Wednesday, April 24, activists from the Students Islamic Organization (SIO) in Kerala organized a protest rally in Kochi. The demonstration aimed to condemn Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s hate-filled speech targeting Muslims during his recent Lok Sabha election campaign in Rajasthan. The activists fervently raised slogans and demanded action against the prime minister during the protest.

During the protest, a group of students was seen carrying torches and a large banner that read, “Punish the hatemonger. Disqualify Narendra Modi’s candidacy… Resist Islamophoia… Resist Hindutva. etc.” Throughout the protest march, activists raised slogans against PM Modi and the RSS.

The protest stemmed from the Prime Minister’s remarks made during a rally in Rajasthan’s Banswara, where he hit out at the Congress over its wealth redistribution survey promise and said that the party, if voted to power, would distribute the country’s wealth to “infiltrators” and “those who have more children,” an apparent reference to Muslims. “It will be distributed to the infiltrators. Should your hard-earned money go to the infiltrators? Do you approve of this? The Congress manifesto says they will calculate the gold with mothers and sisters, get information about it, and then distribute that property. They will distribute it to whom? Manmohan Singh’s government had said that Muslims have the first right on the country’s assets,” PM Modi said.

In the wake of the hate speech that sparked widespread outrage across the nation, opposition leaders vehemently criticized PM Modi’s remarks, particularly those aimed at a specific community. Additionally, some leaders also urged the public to petition the Election Commission of India in response to the concerning statements made by the Prime Minister. Previously, the SIO Kerala Unit had also participated in a similar protest at Providence Girls Higher Secondary School in Kozhikode, where students were forbidden from wearing hijabs. The protest highlighted a broader issue regarding religious freedoms within educational environments.

Read AlsoRajasthan: Students Protest Against Suspension of Muslim Teachers – Reject “Conversion” and “Love- Jihad” Allegations

Featured Image Credits: SIO Kerala

Dhairya Chhabra

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