The Unending Travails of BHU in the ‘Achche Din’ of BJP-RSS

Ananya S Guha

The Vice Chancellor of BHU’s flippant comment that the molestation of a girl student, was a simply case of eve teasing. reeks of total bias in a situation where he should have probed deeply into the matter. This statement has many implications and he is taking cognizance of students’ protests in the campus. Thirdly despite all the noise about educating the girl child, the Vice Chancellor’s statement goes into a total reversal of it. Fourthly he highlights eve teasing which can be a culpable crime as, something acceptable. This acceptability is totally unacceptable. Fifthly the male centered pose is too apparent and smacks of rabid male chauvinism. How can a Vice Chancellor of a reputed institution, make such a callous statement is of course the question and, get away from it? Campus safety was not his concern, words of commiseration to the student and her family was also not his concern. The only other concern apart from that fatuous, insensitive remark was having a probe, a routine institutional affair in India.

Also his statement that the perpetrators were outsiders is beside the point. The issue is safety inside the campus. And if outsiders violate such safety, they must be brought to book. An administration which cannot manage student matters as important as this is inept. An administration which cannot honor equal status for it’s woman student is an atrocious and dismal failure. It is high time Vice Chancellors of our universities understand that there is more to heaven and earth than those that are dreamed of in their philosophy, which is basically making foreign trips, ingratiating political powers and working at their behest.

Further the appointments are purely political, and this is how politics has been saddled into our educational system, vitiating the very atmosphere of academia. Teachers are huddled into groups, officers find themselves on one side in one tenure, and at the receiving end in another. This is how politics manifests in our universities. The great academic is the one who has molly cuddled himself successfully into the favors of the boss, via a political big wig whom he or she knows. And believe me this is how a teacher’s credential works, at least to a great extent. Not by the work he does, not by how student friendly he or she is. That again affects selection processes. The whole thing is a vicious cycle of a politics which demeans and makes the entire system unstable and vulnerable.

Thus the BHU Vice Chancellor perhaps makes this statement because he can get away with it. What is the HRD Ministry doing? They are the ones who have been ranking this university, as one of the best in the country? Are they not rankled by the state of affairs?

It is high time we strip politics of our universities. Selection of Vice Chancellors should be strictly apolitical and based on academic merit. Consequently there will be more transparency in the selection of academics and teachers. Otherwise these sad, goof up stories will continue.Some responses to a post of mine on this episode, on a social networking site say that why blame the poor Vice Chancellor? These things happen and will continue happening. Another one says that this is embedded in the’ culture’ of a people of that part of the country. One of our characteristics is stereotyping: a major Indian fault line. Everyone is bad, funny, arrogant, exploitative, excepting of course our very own community. We are the simpletons, those who are naively exploited. Self examination or criticism certainly does not seem to be our forte. So blame the entire state of Uttar Pradesh, and let those two or three sneaking, prying culprits get away with what they have done. And of course a Vice Chancellor, remember a VICE CHANCELLOR has the prerogative to say that and promptly call the police into his campus, after hell is let loose, students protesting and shouting.

What are the specific roles of a Vice Chancellor? Is it not protection, protection of teachers, students and staff? Is there no welfare measure in his or her vocabulary? Or is it only information gleaning of laws, acts and statutes? When the entire university campus is enraged, does not this kind of a statement upbraid students unnecessarily? No, our Vice Chancellors behave like untainted heroes, but talk like sophomores, some of them at least. If the CBSE indicted a school for the murder of a child, why can’t a Vice Chancellor act with more promptitude in assuaging student feelings, in the midst of unrest? In this case after the death of a child, in a washroom in a Gurgaon school, the CBSE Board took prompt action against Ryan’s International asking authorities to reply to their pointed questions within a stipulated time frame. Kudos to them. I don’t think that this has happened ever before in our country, a Board which only conducts examinations and declares results, is adopting welfare measures, or trying to by some kind of preemptive acts. This should be a model of trustworthiness in educational administration. But no one talks about this. The media only reports. But thanks, it has brought this to our notice at least.

The theory of outsiders intruding into the campus is worse. What are the safety measures then, or what action can be taken to prevent criminals from entering campuses? The truth is these things are happening, because some people having blessings of others, know that they can get away from these acts. Powers of Vice Chancellors must be tempered with love for students. Otherwise what is education, learning, student welfare all about.?




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