(K. Krishna Saagar Rao)
It is a fact that ‘All educated are not wise, and all wise need not be educated’. This fact explains the situation in Indian universities, especially about some of the scholarly professors, who are self-declared watch dogs of secularism and
democracy. The resignation episode of P.B.Mehta, the Vice-Chancellor of Ashoka University, subsequent resignation of Arvind Subramanian or frequent dramas at Jawaharlal Nehru University, Vishwa-Bharathi and many others across India, highlight the deep rot in the education infrastructure.
Universities are supposed to be the pedestals of excellence to seek knowledge and skills for young people. These knowledge disseminating facilities should act as springboards for students to launch themselves in the real world, after their education in their chosen faculties. Universities should be positive enablers for youth, to ignite their curiosity for innovation, invention, knowledge application and productivity. However, many universities in India have become cesspools of anti-social and anti-national elements. These groups which are deeply entrenched in universities are full-time enablers of hate-propaganda, driven out of their selective political and ideological leanings.
The worst part in this worsening academic environment in the universities for decades, is the nexus between few professors and student groups. The selfappointed watch dogs of secularism and democracy have stopped their core-roles of ‘teaching & learning’ and have taken up full-time activity of frivolous, shallow and ignorant article-writing and speech-making about issues, which they have no knowledge about. I call them ‘amateur watch-dogs’, there’s nothing professional about them. The downward spiral of many universities and their academic track record is indicative of professors and students’ escapades with the unmandated and unwarranted non-academic, political activity.
Salaries paid by the institution to Professors are not for indulging in peripheral activity by neglecting their core-roles. Nevertheless, they continue unabashed wearing the mask of ‘conscience keepers’. Students, who either pay the hard-earned money of their parents as tuition-fee or avail free-scholarships and entitlements from the government, disparage their time, youthful energy and valuable national resources in fighting frivolous and purposeless battles, for blind ideological leanings. Not even 1% of these students would ever make full-time political careers out of these wasted youthful wake hours and years on campus with full-time political pre-occupation neglecting academic advancement; their core-purpose.
There’s an impending need for ‘self-regulation and re-direction’ from the criminal deviation of stated purpose, for which universities are established. I don’t think, any university is ever founded on a stated purpose like – ‘This University is being established for the purpose of fighting street battles for main-stream political parties, and their ideologies on our campus.’ Or ‘This university is being established to incessantly criticize all incumbent governments, their policies and undertake mass-protests, while even stalling all academic activity.’ In fact, any university ever founded is always established for larger purposes of knowledge dissemination, skill-training, fundamental research and academic advancement. However, all these grand purposes seem to be over shadowed by frivolous, zealous lust for personal identity, ideological push, selfish-agendas and foolish self-destruction in many universities across the nation. Below are few reasons to abhor the trend of unprofessional political pursuits by both Professors and Students in universities across India.
Resignations are welcome: I welcome the resignations of Ashoka University vice chancellor P.B. Mehta and Arvind Subramanian. In fact, more vice chancellors and professors who deviate from their core-academic roles and responsibilities from across all universities in India should resign from their paid, official roles and pursue their personal political interests. If senior academicians and institutional heads can’t exhibit professionalism and integrity to deliver their expected, well-defined roles as teachers and institutional managers, they are wrong role-models for students. Teachers and students dabbling with personal prejudices, political motivation, ideological loyalties and promotion of hate is not ‘academic freedom’; as there’s nothing academic in these antics.
Professors & wrong definitions: What good is a professor, if one cannot define and understand ‘Secularism’ factually? There are many ignorant professors who are highly educated, but their education hasn’t taught them to question the ‘definitions-by-propaganda’. If one falls for politically promoted definitions for ‘democracy’, ‘academic-freedom’, ‘freedom-of-speech’ etc… they lose out on understanding the factual meanings of these terms, they are blindly leading many others into a no-go zone. The current situation in universities suits the metaphor of ‘the blind, leading blind’. I question P.B.Mehta & Arvind, if real-secularism is to have ‘religious-personallaws’ in a constitutionally stated secular nation like India? Have they ever objected to this brazen flaw, as it currently exists since 1955 after PM Nehru passed several religious laws in India mocking its secular credentials? Does any other secular state in the world have ‘religious personal laws’ governing their justice system? What is the definition of ‘academic freedom’? is it just about writing regular articles against PM Modi, his government and his party or does it have anything to do with academic or research pursuit?
What is the working definition of democracy, if applied to a political party? Is 5 generations of a family fiefdom over a party, and 4 generations of dynastic succession over a nation; real democracy? Not questioning these glaring deficiencies, as it does not suit one’s personal & political agenda is ‘Academic Integrity’? I challenge the sulking professors to answer at least few of these questions.Professional protestors: Universities should not be the market places for professional protestors of any ideology. National institutions conceptualized and built for higher education cannot be allowed to become cesspools forrogues, petty-criminals, drug-abusers, alcoholics and professional protestors for paid political crusades. A small section of deviant professors and students are consistently destroying the academic environment, peace and tranquility of beautifully designed, large academic spaces across the nation. Thousands of students who join these universities are negatively influenced, brain-washed and misdirected through mindless political narratives, these distracted groups profess. It is time to completely overhaul the higher education system in India. The role of Universities in building academically brilliant citizens of a nation, should override the current frivolous and mis-directed path few universities have taken. (The author is the Chief Spokesperson of BJP Telangana State & an Organizational Strategist)