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Khan Saheb in Kashi

Ustad Bismillah Khan, 1916–2006. In the Ustad’s shehnai lies the note of reason

21 Mar 2020

Khan Sahab

There are moments when I love my job or rather, my business of journalism – even I, a hard-nosed cynical hack of nearly three decades. It is because you love and cherish these moments that you are so grateful you are in this business. How else would I, a hopeless, hopeless philistine, hope to find myself on a rain-drenched terrace in old Varanasi with Ustad Bismillah Khan? As it happens, it was almost exactly the same time last year.

I can fill the rest of this space just describing the beauty of his face, his spirit, his talent, his madness, even his commercialism. To date, he is the only guest who demanded, and was paid – though only a very reasonable tribute – for appearing on Walk the Talk. He said he had a large family to support, even at 91, and could do with whatever money came his way. And when I reminded him, while leaving, that he had to come and perform at my children’s weddings, he said yes immediately. And then quoted the price: five lakh, plus air tickets and stay for seven people. You could touch his innocence with bare hands in the heavy monsoon air.

Khan Saheb let me down on this one though. He will not come and perform at my children’s weddings, whatever the price. But he left me with memories – and lines – that will never go away. What was the difference between Hindu and Muslim, he asked. What, indeed, when he sang to Allah in raga Bhairav (composed for Shiva) and brought to tears the Iraqi maulana who had just told him music was blasphemy, "evil, a trap of the devil". Khan Saheb said, "I told him, Maulana, I will sing to Allah. All I ask you is to be fair. And when I finished I asked him if it is blasphemy. He was speechless." And then Khan Saheb told me with that trademark mischievous glint: "But I did not tell him it was in raga Bhairav."

Why did Khan Saheb not migrate to Pakistan with partition? "Arre, will I ever leave my Benares?" he asked. "I went to Pakistan for a few hours," he said, "just to be able to say I’ve been there. I knew I would never last there." And what is so special about Benares, his glorified slum of a haveli in a grandly named Bharat Ratna Ustad Bismillah Khan Street that had more potholes than footholds and more heaps of chicken entrails from nearby meat shops than garbage heaps from homes? "My temples are here," he said, "Balaji and Mangala Gauri." Without them, he asked, how would he make any music? As a Muslim he could not go inside the temples. But so what? "I would just go behind the temples and touch the wall from outside. You bring gangajal, you can go inside to offer it, but I can just as well touch the stone from outside. It’s the same. I just have to put my hand to them."

How is that devotion in a week when our parliament was rocked by issues like the forcible, and criminal, chopping of a Sikh boy’s hair in Jaipur and the controversy over state-mandated singing of Vande Mataram in schools to launch the 150th anniversary of 1857? Or when we were all so outraged by the paranoia that caused the Mumbai bound KLM-Northwest flight to return to Amsterdam, the racial profiling of Muslims, particularly Asian-Arab Muslims and so on?

Khan Saheb’s was a talent worthy of a Bharat Ratna and immortality. But he also personified, so strikingly, the fact of how the Muslims of India defy the stereotypes building up in today’s rapidly dividing world. They may be poorer than the majority, or even other, smaller minorities, they may still live in ghettos of sorts, but they are a part of the mainstream, nationally as well as regionally and ethnically, more than Muslim populations are in most parts of the world. A Tamil Muslim, for example, is as much an ethnic Tamil as a Hindu or a Christian and certainly has more in common with his ethnic cousins than with fellow Muslims in Bihar or Uttar Pradesh. India’s Muslims work in mainstream businesses where their interests are meshed inextricably with the rest, particularly the majority Hindus, even if they happen to spar occasionally.

That is why, unlike Bush’s America or the western world in general, India cannot even think of the diabolical idea of "Islamic" fascism or terrorism. No country can survive if it starts looking at nearly 15 per cent of its population as a fifth column. That is why India’s view of the war against terror has to be entirely different from the western world’s, more nuanced, more realistic and, most importantly, entirely indigenous.

It is a difficult argument to make in times when it is so tempting to tell America and Europe that see, the people who are terrorising you are the same as the people who have been terrorising us. So far you never believed us. Now with every other terror suspect being traced back to Pakistan and, more precisely, Jaish or Lashkar, accept and acknowledge that we have been in the forefront of the global war against terror for a decade before it hit you. The danger in that approach is, the Americans and the Europeans can choose that approach – though it is not working for them as well – because for them these Muslims are outsiders, different, and therefore candidates for racial profiling. You can racially profile a million people in a universe of 27 crore. Can you profile 14 crore in a universe of a hundred crore? Particularly when most of them, in their own big and small ways, are as integrated in the mainstream, as zealously proud and possessive of their multiple (ethnic, linguistic and professional) identities as of their faith?

That is why the key to fighting, okay, this wave of terror emanating from Muslim anger is to absolutely avoid the "global war on terror" trap.

The terrorists know it. That is why attacks in India, even by angry Indian Muslims, are not directed against some evil global power or its symbols. Nor are they meant to support some pan-Islamic cause, Palestine, or even, for that matter, Kashmir. Their objective, always, is to strike at our secular nationalism. Every single attack has had the same purpose, starting with the first round of Bombay bombings in 1993.

Sharad Pawar made a bold confession to me earlier this month that he parachuted from Delhi into a riot-torn Bombay then figured immediately that the terrorist plot was to kill a large number of people in Hindu localities to trigger large-scale mob attacks on Muslim areas where automatic weapons and grenades had been stored with their agents. Once the mobs were stopped with these automatic weapons it would lead to a carnage that would be uncontrollable. It is for that reason that, he says, he lied on Doordarshan that there had been 12 blasts (where there had been 11) and added the name of a Muslim locality as the 12th. Today we can all rue the fact that judgement in the case of those blasts is still awaited, 13 years later (this article was written in 2006). But we should also cherish the fact that in eschewing any rioting and actually returning to work the very next morning, Bombay had defeated the larger design of the terrorists.

Every attack since then, the temples at Ayodhya, Akshardham and Varanasi, Raghunath temple in Jammu, even the bombs at Delhi’s Jama Masjid, had the same purpose: widening that divide. But it is tougher in India where any notion of ‘Them versus Us’ is an impossibility given how closely communities live, work and do business together. It is one thing to say that we have learnt to live with diversity for a thousand years. It is equally important that we internalise the idea of diversity, equality and fairness that is in our Constitution and in the process of nation building make the very idea of a global war against ‘Islamic fascism’ totally alien and ridiculous for India.

There is a war on for us and there is no getting away from the fact that some of those on the wrong side today are fellow, angry Indians, and we have to deal with them firmly and effectively. But we will need to evolve an idiom and a strategy entirely our own, in tune with a society which loves equally Ustad Bismillah Khan and Pandit Ravi Shankar, who both sing and pray to Allah and Shiva, Krishna in ragas composed for either. Today India enjoys great respect in the world because of its unfolding economic miracle. If India can get this nuance right, it could be the toast of the world tomorrow for an even greater socio-political miracle, a secular but deeply religious nation that defeated terrorism while taking its 14 crore Muslims along.

Courtesy: The Indian Express

Archived from Communalism Combat, August-September 2007, Anniversary Issue (14th), Year 14    No.125, India at 60 Free Spaces, Music

Khan Saheb in Kashi

Ustad Bismillah Khan, 1916–2006. In the Ustad’s shehnai lies the note of reason

Khan Sahab

There are moments when I love my job or rather, my business of journalism – even I, a hard-nosed cynical hack of nearly three decades. It is because you love and cherish these moments that you are so grateful you are in this business. How else would I, a hopeless, hopeless philistine, hope to find myself on a rain-drenched terrace in old Varanasi with Ustad Bismillah Khan? As it happens, it was almost exactly the same time last year.

I can fill the rest of this space just describing the beauty of his face, his spirit, his talent, his madness, even his commercialism. To date, he is the only guest who demanded, and was paid – though only a very reasonable tribute – for appearing on Walk the Talk. He said he had a large family to support, even at 91, and could do with whatever money came his way. And when I reminded him, while leaving, that he had to come and perform at my children’s weddings, he said yes immediately. And then quoted the price: five lakh, plus air tickets and stay for seven people. You could touch his innocence with bare hands in the heavy monsoon air.

Khan Saheb let me down on this one though. He will not come and perform at my children’s weddings, whatever the price. But he left me with memories – and lines – that will never go away. What was the difference between Hindu and Muslim, he asked. What, indeed, when he sang to Allah in raga Bhairav (composed for Shiva) and brought to tears the Iraqi maulana who had just told him music was blasphemy, "evil, a trap of the devil". Khan Saheb said, "I told him, Maulana, I will sing to Allah. All I ask you is to be fair. And when I finished I asked him if it is blasphemy. He was speechless." And then Khan Saheb told me with that trademark mischievous glint: "But I did not tell him it was in raga Bhairav."

Why did Khan Saheb not migrate to Pakistan with partition? "Arre, will I ever leave my Benares?" he asked. "I went to Pakistan for a few hours," he said, "just to be able to say I’ve been there. I knew I would never last there." And what is so special about Benares, his glorified slum of a haveli in a grandly named Bharat Ratna Ustad Bismillah Khan Street that had more potholes than footholds and more heaps of chicken entrails from nearby meat shops than garbage heaps from homes? "My temples are here," he said, "Balaji and Mangala Gauri." Without them, he asked, how would he make any music? As a Muslim he could not go inside the temples. But so what? "I would just go behind the temples and touch the wall from outside. You bring gangajal, you can go inside to offer it, but I can just as well touch the stone from outside. It’s the same. I just have to put my hand to them."

How is that devotion in a week when our parliament was rocked by issues like the forcible, and criminal, chopping of a Sikh boy’s hair in Jaipur and the controversy over state-mandated singing of Vande Mataram in schools to launch the 150th anniversary of 1857? Or when we were all so outraged by the paranoia that caused the Mumbai bound KLM-Northwest flight to return to Amsterdam, the racial profiling of Muslims, particularly Asian-Arab Muslims and so on?

Khan Saheb’s was a talent worthy of a Bharat Ratna and immortality. But he also personified, so strikingly, the fact of how the Muslims of India defy the stereotypes building up in today’s rapidly dividing world. They may be poorer than the majority, or even other, smaller minorities, they may still live in ghettos of sorts, but they are a part of the mainstream, nationally as well as regionally and ethnically, more than Muslim populations are in most parts of the world. A Tamil Muslim, for example, is as much an ethnic Tamil as a Hindu or a Christian and certainly has more in common with his ethnic cousins than with fellow Muslims in Bihar or Uttar Pradesh. India’s Muslims work in mainstream businesses where their interests are meshed inextricably with the rest, particularly the majority Hindus, even if they happen to spar occasionally.

That is why, unlike Bush’s America or the western world in general, India cannot even think of the diabolical idea of "Islamic" fascism or terrorism. No country can survive if it starts looking at nearly 15 per cent of its population as a fifth column. That is why India’s view of the war against terror has to be entirely different from the western world’s, more nuanced, more realistic and, most importantly, entirely indigenous.

It is a difficult argument to make in times when it is so tempting to tell America and Europe that see, the people who are terrorising you are the same as the people who have been terrorising us. So far you never believed us. Now with every other terror suspect being traced back to Pakistan and, more precisely, Jaish or Lashkar, accept and acknowledge that we have been in the forefront of the global war against terror for a decade before it hit you. The danger in that approach is, the Americans and the Europeans can choose that approach – though it is not working for them as well – because for them these Muslims are outsiders, different, and therefore candidates for racial profiling. You can racially profile a million people in a universe of 27 crore. Can you profile 14 crore in a universe of a hundred crore? Particularly when most of them, in their own big and small ways, are as integrated in the mainstream, as zealously proud and possessive of their multiple (ethnic, linguistic and professional) identities as of their faith?

That is why the key to fighting, okay, this wave of terror emanating from Muslim anger is to absolutely avoid the "global war on terror" trap.

The terrorists know it. That is why attacks in India, even by angry Indian Muslims, are not directed against some evil global power or its symbols. Nor are they meant to support some pan-Islamic cause, Palestine, or even, for that matter, Kashmir. Their objective, always, is to strike at our secular nationalism. Every single attack has had the same purpose, starting with the first round of Bombay bombings in 1993.

Sharad Pawar made a bold confession to me earlier this month that he parachuted from Delhi into a riot-torn Bombay then figured immediately that the terrorist plot was to kill a large number of people in Hindu localities to trigger large-scale mob attacks on Muslim areas where automatic weapons and grenades had been stored with their agents. Once the mobs were stopped with these automatic weapons it would lead to a carnage that would be uncontrollable. It is for that reason that, he says, he lied on Doordarshan that there had been 12 blasts (where there had been 11) and added the name of a Muslim locality as the 12th. Today we can all rue the fact that judgement in the case of those blasts is still awaited, 13 years later (this article was written in 2006). But we should also cherish the fact that in eschewing any rioting and actually returning to work the very next morning, Bombay had defeated the larger design of the terrorists.

Every attack since then, the temples at Ayodhya, Akshardham and Varanasi, Raghunath temple in Jammu, even the bombs at Delhi’s Jama Masjid, had the same purpose: widening that divide. But it is tougher in India where any notion of ‘Them versus Us’ is an impossibility given how closely communities live, work and do business together. It is one thing to say that we have learnt to live with diversity for a thousand years. It is equally important that we internalise the idea of diversity, equality and fairness that is in our Constitution and in the process of nation building make the very idea of a global war against ‘Islamic fascism’ totally alien and ridiculous for India.

There is a war on for us and there is no getting away from the fact that some of those on the wrong side today are fellow, angry Indians, and we have to deal with them firmly and effectively. But we will need to evolve an idiom and a strategy entirely our own, in tune with a society which loves equally Ustad Bismillah Khan and Pandit Ravi Shankar, who both sing and pray to Allah and Shiva, Krishna in ragas composed for either. Today India enjoys great respect in the world because of its unfolding economic miracle. If India can get this nuance right, it could be the toast of the world tomorrow for an even greater socio-political miracle, a secular but deeply religious nation that defeated terrorism while taking its 14 crore Muslims along.

Courtesy: The Indian Express

Archived from Communalism Combat, August-September 2007, Anniversary Issue (14th), Year 14    No.125, India at 60 Free Spaces, Music

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Kashmiri student urges PM to restore 4G internet

In an open letter to the PM, the student says how internet is the only way for students to keep up with their syllabus and poor speed is a deterrent

19 Mar 2020

kashmiri students

A young Kashmiri student has written an open letter to the Prime Minister showcasing the hardships faced by students who are struggling to keep up with their academic regime amidst the social distancing and quarantine measures to check the spread of the Corona virus. He says that students have no option but to switch to online methods of completing their educations and while 2G services have been restored, the speeds are too slow and are proving to be a deterrent to their education.


The Honourable Narendra Modi

Prime Minister of India

Sir,

I am writing this on behalf of myself and all other students of Kashmir Valley. We are extremely concerned with our education as Covid-19’s spread to India resulted in the unwanted but necessary suspending of our class work. The fact that right now internet is the only road which can be taken by the students to complete the syllabi and other assignments is true to every community of the world. We understand there are some valuable reasons which are restricting the authorities to restore 4g internet speed in the Valley but we have suffered huge losses in the previous year as well which can’t be allowed to happen this year also.

Our part of the world is very less affected from the disease as compared to other parts of the country and then to other cities of the world. This is a good omen but the terrible internet speed is what haunts us the most in these adverse circumstances. We have been cooperating with the authorities since months, then on internet restoration and now on 4g speed restoration. In addition, the speed of brodbands is also not matching their actual one. The low internet speed is really adding to our frets.

I am aware that you have a lot on your plate as Prime Minister of India, but as a responsible citizen and a student of high school, I am asking you to restore the 4g internet speed to help out the education system of Kashmir. I know a number of students and teachers who are extremely worried about the education in Kashmir and it breaks my heart.

I appreciate all that you do for our new Union Territory, and I look forward to seeing restoration of 4g internet speed. Thank You for listening.

Sincerely yours,

Shah Faez Hussain

Ninth grade student

St. Peter’s International Academy 

Kashmiri student urges PM to restore 4G internet

In an open letter to the PM, the student says how internet is the only way for students to keep up with their syllabus and poor speed is a deterrent

kashmiri students

A young Kashmiri student has written an open letter to the Prime Minister showcasing the hardships faced by students who are struggling to keep up with their academic regime amidst the social distancing and quarantine measures to check the spread of the Corona virus. He says that students have no option but to switch to online methods of completing their educations and while 2G services have been restored, the speeds are too slow and are proving to be a deterrent to their education.


The Honourable Narendra Modi

Prime Minister of India

Sir,

I am writing this on behalf of myself and all other students of Kashmir Valley. We are extremely concerned with our education as Covid-19’s spread to India resulted in the unwanted but necessary suspending of our class work. The fact that right now internet is the only road which can be taken by the students to complete the syllabi and other assignments is true to every community of the world. We understand there are some valuable reasons which are restricting the authorities to restore 4g internet speed in the Valley but we have suffered huge losses in the previous year as well which can’t be allowed to happen this year also.

Our part of the world is very less affected from the disease as compared to other parts of the country and then to other cities of the world. This is a good omen but the terrible internet speed is what haunts us the most in these adverse circumstances. We have been cooperating with the authorities since months, then on internet restoration and now on 4g speed restoration. In addition, the speed of brodbands is also not matching their actual one. The low internet speed is really adding to our frets.

I am aware that you have a lot on your plate as Prime Minister of India, but as a responsible citizen and a student of high school, I am asking you to restore the 4g internet speed to help out the education system of Kashmir. I know a number of students and teachers who are extremely worried about the education in Kashmir and it breaks my heart.

I appreciate all that you do for our new Union Territory, and I look forward to seeing restoration of 4g internet speed. Thank You for listening.

Sincerely yours,

Shah Faez Hussain

Ninth grade student

St. Peter’s International Academy 

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Remove Najma Akhtar as Jamia VC: Search committee member writes to President

Ramakrishna Ramaswamy’s said her position as VC should be revoked post objection by the Central Vigilance Commission a year ago

19 Mar 2020

Najma Akhtar 

Ramakrishna Ramaswamy, a member of the 2018 search committee which was given the task of looking for candidates to be appointed as the Vice Chancellor of the Jamia Millia University in Delhi has written to the President of India, Ram Nath Kovind, requesting him to recall the appointment of Dr. Najma Akhtar who currently hold the VC position at the university, reported The Indian Express. The President had approved her appointment on April 11, 2019.

In his letter to the President dated March 8, Ramaswamy claimed that the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) had denied vigilance clearance to Akhtar in an office memo dated January 10, 2019.

Though his letter did not clearly state what objection the CVC had or why it denied vigilance clearance to Akhtar, it quoted newspaper reports which had claimed that the CVC opposed the recommendation of Akhtar for any post-retirement assignment or re-employment in any organization, institution or university under the ambit of the Human Resource Development ministry.

Ramaswamy’s letter also stated that three candidates were recommended to the President after the search committee chose from 13 shortlisted candidates from 107 applicants. His letter read, “After having personally interacted with the 13 shortlisted candidates on November 28, 2018, a panel of three names was recommended to you (the President), subject, of course, to vigilance clearance.”

In the letter he added, “This is a grave matter, since in the process of arriving at a short-list, otherwise meritorious candidates were passed over by the committee on account of even the remotest vigilance clearance issues.”

Besides Ramaswamy, the search committee consisted of Professor DP Singh and retired Justice MSA Siddiqui.

Speaking about how the President had earlier recalled the appointment of the VCs of the Hemvati Nandan Bahuguna Garhwal University and Manipur University, Ramaswamy wrote, “In past few months, you have shown exemplary leadership as Visitor of the Central Universities by recalling the Vice Chancellors of two Central Universities when their credentials were in question.”

“The OM of the CVC quoted above is very strong in its indictment, and under these circumstances, I am writing to request that the same caution be exercised in the case of the Jamia Millia Islamia and appropriate remedial action be taken,” the letter added.

On April 11, 2019, Najma Akhtar became the first woman Vice Chancellor of the JMIU.. She had also raised her voice against the police brutalities on Jamia students on December 15 last year during the anti-Citizenship Amendment Act protests. She had posted a video message criticizing the Delhi Police’s actions and also held a press conference reiterating that the police had entered the Jamia campus without permission and their actions were condemnable. She had then said, “I am hurt by the way my students were treated. I want to let my students know that they are not alone in this fight. I am with them. I will take this matter forward as long it’s possible.”

Before Ramaswamy’s letter came to the fore, the Delhi High Court was already hearing a plea challenging Akhtar’s appointment as the VC of JMIU currently seized of in court. Justice AK Chawla issued notice on a plea filed by Jamia alumnus M Ehtesham-ul-Haque. Haque’s petition read, “The entire process culminating into the impugned appointment of Dr. Najma Akhtar (Respondent No.3), is a colourable exercise of power and in flagrant violation and total non-compliance of the statutory provisions of the Jamia Millia Islamia Act, 1988.”

The petitioner said that the appointment of Akhtar was done through a tainted process and her consideration and recommendation by the purported Search Committee “subject to vigilance clearance” was in itself irregular and illegal and vitiates the entire process.

The petition has sought that her appointment as VC be declared as "illegal, arbitrary, void ab initio and non est in law".

An Indian Express report on Akhtar states she was recommended for the post of the Jamia VC by the Muslim Rashtriya Manch (MRM), an outfit patronized by RSS leader Indresh Kumar. Sources in the RSS told IE that she was picked because she neither aligned to the Congress, nor the Left.

However, Akhtar confessed that she was ‘apolitical’. Earlier with the Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) as the Controller of Examinations, she had faced various allegations of ‘institutionalized corruption’. However, her track record at the JMIU shows her to be an able leader. Since the start of her tenure, Akhtar has made roughly 150 promotions and over 60 fresh appointments. She has also got UGC sanction for four new departments, and has talked of bringing in more women students.

Akhtar still faces many detractors who allege she didn’t do much post December 15. However, faculty members stood up for her saying that though she didn’t do much, the VC’s of universities were not as autonomous as before due to the pressure from the government.

Yet, the letter by Ramaswamy raises eyebrows. If there was ever a problem with her appointment, why is the demand for her removal cropping up after one year?


Related:

Jamia Millia Islamia VC supports the students, condemns horrifying Police violence

Jamia Millia appoints Najma Akhtar as its first woman VC

New Jamia Millia V-C draws criticism after receiving 'blessings' from RSS leader

Remove Najma Akhtar as Jamia VC: Search committee member writes to President

Ramakrishna Ramaswamy’s said her position as VC should be revoked post objection by the Central Vigilance Commission a year ago

Najma Akhtar 

Ramakrishna Ramaswamy, a member of the 2018 search committee which was given the task of looking for candidates to be appointed as the Vice Chancellor of the Jamia Millia University in Delhi has written to the President of India, Ram Nath Kovind, requesting him to recall the appointment of Dr. Najma Akhtar who currently hold the VC position at the university, reported The Indian Express. The President had approved her appointment on April 11, 2019.

In his letter to the President dated March 8, Ramaswamy claimed that the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) had denied vigilance clearance to Akhtar in an office memo dated January 10, 2019.

Though his letter did not clearly state what objection the CVC had or why it denied vigilance clearance to Akhtar, it quoted newspaper reports which had claimed that the CVC opposed the recommendation of Akhtar for any post-retirement assignment or re-employment in any organization, institution or university under the ambit of the Human Resource Development ministry.

Ramaswamy’s letter also stated that three candidates were recommended to the President after the search committee chose from 13 shortlisted candidates from 107 applicants. His letter read, “After having personally interacted with the 13 shortlisted candidates on November 28, 2018, a panel of three names was recommended to you (the President), subject, of course, to vigilance clearance.”

In the letter he added, “This is a grave matter, since in the process of arriving at a short-list, otherwise meritorious candidates were passed over by the committee on account of even the remotest vigilance clearance issues.”

Besides Ramaswamy, the search committee consisted of Professor DP Singh and retired Justice MSA Siddiqui.

Speaking about how the President had earlier recalled the appointment of the VCs of the Hemvati Nandan Bahuguna Garhwal University and Manipur University, Ramaswamy wrote, “In past few months, you have shown exemplary leadership as Visitor of the Central Universities by recalling the Vice Chancellors of two Central Universities when their credentials were in question.”

“The OM of the CVC quoted above is very strong in its indictment, and under these circumstances, I am writing to request that the same caution be exercised in the case of the Jamia Millia Islamia and appropriate remedial action be taken,” the letter added.

On April 11, 2019, Najma Akhtar became the first woman Vice Chancellor of the JMIU.. She had also raised her voice against the police brutalities on Jamia students on December 15 last year during the anti-Citizenship Amendment Act protests. She had posted a video message criticizing the Delhi Police’s actions and also held a press conference reiterating that the police had entered the Jamia campus without permission and their actions were condemnable. She had then said, “I am hurt by the way my students were treated. I want to let my students know that they are not alone in this fight. I am with them. I will take this matter forward as long it’s possible.”

Before Ramaswamy’s letter came to the fore, the Delhi High Court was already hearing a plea challenging Akhtar’s appointment as the VC of JMIU currently seized of in court. Justice AK Chawla issued notice on a plea filed by Jamia alumnus M Ehtesham-ul-Haque. Haque’s petition read, “The entire process culminating into the impugned appointment of Dr. Najma Akhtar (Respondent No.3), is a colourable exercise of power and in flagrant violation and total non-compliance of the statutory provisions of the Jamia Millia Islamia Act, 1988.”

The petitioner said that the appointment of Akhtar was done through a tainted process and her consideration and recommendation by the purported Search Committee “subject to vigilance clearance” was in itself irregular and illegal and vitiates the entire process.

The petition has sought that her appointment as VC be declared as "illegal, arbitrary, void ab initio and non est in law".

An Indian Express report on Akhtar states she was recommended for the post of the Jamia VC by the Muslim Rashtriya Manch (MRM), an outfit patronized by RSS leader Indresh Kumar. Sources in the RSS told IE that she was picked because she neither aligned to the Congress, nor the Left.

However, Akhtar confessed that she was ‘apolitical’. Earlier with the Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) as the Controller of Examinations, she had faced various allegations of ‘institutionalized corruption’. However, her track record at the JMIU shows her to be an able leader. Since the start of her tenure, Akhtar has made roughly 150 promotions and over 60 fresh appointments. She has also got UGC sanction for four new departments, and has talked of bringing in more women students.

Akhtar still faces many detractors who allege she didn’t do much post December 15. However, faculty members stood up for her saying that though she didn’t do much, the VC’s of universities were not as autonomous as before due to the pressure from the government.

Yet, the letter by Ramaswamy raises eyebrows. If there was ever a problem with her appointment, why is the demand for her removal cropping up after one year?


Related:

Jamia Millia Islamia VC supports the students, condemns horrifying Police violence

Jamia Millia appoints Najma Akhtar as its first woman VC

New Jamia Millia V-C draws criticism after receiving 'blessings' from RSS leader

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Free speech must for students, IITB alumni to director

Two alumnus of the prestigious, Powai based IIT, Bombay, have in an open letter to the Institute's director urged that the robust traditions of free speech and dissent be upheld on campus

14 Mar 2020

IITB

In the spate of protests that spilled over in as many as 32  Institutes of higher learning following the brute police actions on Jamia Milia Islamia, Aligarh Muslim University and Jawaharlal Nehru University on December 15, 2019 and January 5, 2020 respectively, the dozens of protests that took place at IITB were historic.

Predictably, these have been followed by repression and blatant efforts at coercive intimidation.

Now two former IIT-ians write an open letter to the director not only making a case for free speech but tracing the illustrious history of IITB's alumni that have broken ceilings of predictability and forged new horizons. Do not the present students of IITB not have the right to emulate them, the letter asks.

The full text of the letter may be read here:

Dear Director Sahib

On January 26, this year, IIT Bombay students organized a lively event “Reclaiming the Republic” to mark the Republic day celebrations and to serve as a reminder of our Constitutional values that we all hold dear.

Then came an email dated 28 Jan from the Institute to the students that summarized “Hostel conduct rules” and pretty much obstructed the fundamental rights of the students to express themselves freely and peacefully.

Our letter to you was published in The Midday on Jan 31 and sent to you by email. This was a plea, from senior alumni of this great institution, to respect the students’ rights to free and peaceful expression and to withdraw the restrictive rules.

It seems that not only do these rules continue but security forces now regularly chaperone and control events around the campus. Even a harmless road painting depicting the students’ solidarity with the women of Shaheen Bagh has not been spared and blacked out!

It is often said that “students are supposed to study”, implying that they should ignore or at any rate not get involved in what is happening on the world outside. This is emphasized even more for students of IITs and other prestigious institutes – who are expected to excel at science and technology to the exclusion of everything else – as if that were even possible, let alone desirable.

These statements ignore the great contribution made by youth and students for freedom and progress in India and the world. Youth and students from our forefathers’ generations fought valiantly for freedom from colonial rule – which is why we are now able to celebrate 70 years of the Indian Republic. Who has not heard of the young patriots and martyrs like Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev, Rajguru and countless others? Breathes there an Indian youth who has at some time not pledged to follow in their footsteps and work for the true liberation of her motherland?

Today too, our country is going through turbulent times. Are we not in the pincer grip of a combination of a falling economy, an atmosphere of increasing discrimination, hate and violence and a health pandemic? Would you want our students to live in a cocoon and ignore all the challenges that humanity is facing?

If so, how would they be expected to take tough decisions when they venture out in the real world? How will they hold up when the real-life situations challenge the core of their morality and test their character? “There comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but he must take it because conscience tells him it is right” said Martin Luther King Jr.

Students have historically spoken out against injustice and our IIT Bombay students have been no exception. For instance, IIT Bombay students protested the horrendous genocide of the Sikhs organized following the assassination of Mrs Indira Gandhi in 1984, and some even participated in ensuring that Sikhs in Mumbai, Delhi and other parts of the country were safe from marauding mobs.

There are several IIT graduates too who have followed their conscience and are respected for their integrity and human values. Some have given up lucrative corporate careers and become prominent human rights lawyers, educators, RTI pioneers and Information Commissioners, environmental activists, gender advocates and much more. Others combine a job or a livelihood with similar activities; acting according to their conscience to work for causes they believe to be just. I hope you agree that they have made immense contributions to the nation and mankind, for making our country and the world truly better for everyone.

Shouldn’t the present students of IIT Bombay be permitted to emulate them? Is it fair to suppress all nonviolent activities which perhaps question the present order of things, including peaceful protests?  Will such an attitude contribute to nurturing a generation of youth who care for the nation and all its peoples, for social justice and fairness – or will it lead to engendering an egocentric attitude of “couldn’t care less” among them? If, as we believe, it would lead to the latter, do you think you would really be at ease with your conscience a few years later?

We request your sympathetic consideration of the students’ right to free speech and peaceful assembly and protests. Let us remember the great soul who said “The only tyrant I accept in this world is the 'still small voice' within me. And even though I have to face the prospect of being a minority of one, I humbly believe I have the courage to be in such a hopeless minority.”

Yours in hope,

 

Dr Venkatesh Sundaram & Chandru Chawla (IITB Alumni)

March 12, 2020

 

Free speech must for students, IITB alumni to director

Two alumnus of the prestigious, Powai based IIT, Bombay, have in an open letter to the Institute's director urged that the robust traditions of free speech and dissent be upheld on campus

IITB

In the spate of protests that spilled over in as many as 32  Institutes of higher learning following the brute police actions on Jamia Milia Islamia, Aligarh Muslim University and Jawaharlal Nehru University on December 15, 2019 and January 5, 2020 respectively, the dozens of protests that took place at IITB were historic.

Predictably, these have been followed by repression and blatant efforts at coercive intimidation.

Now two former IIT-ians write an open letter to the director not only making a case for free speech but tracing the illustrious history of IITB's alumni that have broken ceilings of predictability and forged new horizons. Do not the present students of IITB not have the right to emulate them, the letter asks.

The full text of the letter may be read here:

Dear Director Sahib

On January 26, this year, IIT Bombay students organized a lively event “Reclaiming the Republic” to mark the Republic day celebrations and to serve as a reminder of our Constitutional values that we all hold dear.

Then came an email dated 28 Jan from the Institute to the students that summarized “Hostel conduct rules” and pretty much obstructed the fundamental rights of the students to express themselves freely and peacefully.

Our letter to you was published in The Midday on Jan 31 and sent to you by email. This was a plea, from senior alumni of this great institution, to respect the students’ rights to free and peaceful expression and to withdraw the restrictive rules.

It seems that not only do these rules continue but security forces now regularly chaperone and control events around the campus. Even a harmless road painting depicting the students’ solidarity with the women of Shaheen Bagh has not been spared and blacked out!

It is often said that “students are supposed to study”, implying that they should ignore or at any rate not get involved in what is happening on the world outside. This is emphasized even more for students of IITs and other prestigious institutes – who are expected to excel at science and technology to the exclusion of everything else – as if that were even possible, let alone desirable.

These statements ignore the great contribution made by youth and students for freedom and progress in India and the world. Youth and students from our forefathers’ generations fought valiantly for freedom from colonial rule – which is why we are now able to celebrate 70 years of the Indian Republic. Who has not heard of the young patriots and martyrs like Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev, Rajguru and countless others? Breathes there an Indian youth who has at some time not pledged to follow in their footsteps and work for the true liberation of her motherland?

Today too, our country is going through turbulent times. Are we not in the pincer grip of a combination of a falling economy, an atmosphere of increasing discrimination, hate and violence and a health pandemic? Would you want our students to live in a cocoon and ignore all the challenges that humanity is facing?

If so, how would they be expected to take tough decisions when they venture out in the real world? How will they hold up when the real-life situations challenge the core of their morality and test their character? “There comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but he must take it because conscience tells him it is right” said Martin Luther King Jr.

Students have historically spoken out against injustice and our IIT Bombay students have been no exception. For instance, IIT Bombay students protested the horrendous genocide of the Sikhs organized following the assassination of Mrs Indira Gandhi in 1984, and some even participated in ensuring that Sikhs in Mumbai, Delhi and other parts of the country were safe from marauding mobs.

There are several IIT graduates too who have followed their conscience and are respected for their integrity and human values. Some have given up lucrative corporate careers and become prominent human rights lawyers, educators, RTI pioneers and Information Commissioners, environmental activists, gender advocates and much more. Others combine a job or a livelihood with similar activities; acting according to their conscience to work for causes they believe to be just. I hope you agree that they have made immense contributions to the nation and mankind, for making our country and the world truly better for everyone.

Shouldn’t the present students of IIT Bombay be permitted to emulate them? Is it fair to suppress all nonviolent activities which perhaps question the present order of things, including peaceful protests?  Will such an attitude contribute to nurturing a generation of youth who care for the nation and all its peoples, for social justice and fairness – or will it lead to engendering an egocentric attitude of “couldn’t care less” among them? If, as we believe, it would lead to the latter, do you think you would really be at ease with your conscience a few years later?

We request your sympathetic consideration of the students’ right to free speech and peaceful assembly and protests. Let us remember the great soul who said “The only tyrant I accept in this world is the 'still small voice' within me. And even though I have to face the prospect of being a minority of one, I humbly believe I have the courage to be in such a hopeless minority.”

Yours in hope,

 

Dr Venkatesh Sundaram & Chandru Chawla (IITB Alumni)

March 12, 2020

 

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Teaching Without Prejudice


First Published on: April 1, 2004

Towards impartial education


Sabrang

In K’taka anganwadis: No toilets, no ventilation and no water

A report has found that children and employees at these anganwadi centers are bereft from the most basic amenities

29 Feb 2020

Anganwadi

The Committee on Local Bodies and Panchayat Raj for Karnataka tabled its report for 2019 – 20 in both the Houses has expressed concern about the infrastructure in anganwadis, while also mentioning the health risks due to the lack of toilets and ventilation, reported Deccan Herald.

The report stated that while the government was to build 3,026 new toilets in anganwadis across Karnatakas, only 1,663 toilets had been constructed at the time of compiling the report. Also, while 5,011 anganwadis were lined up for repair work, the repairs of only 2,965 had been completed.

It was also mentioned that while the construction of some anganwadis had not begun at all, in several other villages the walls were leaking due to being of poor quality. It was said that the funds for the infrastructure development of anganwadis had been diverted to civil works instead.

In Bagalkot, the toilet construction target was 238, but only 11 new toilets were made. In Ramnagar, no toilets were constructed against the given target of 121 and the same was with Raichur which had a target of 76 toilets to be constructed.

Speaking to Deccan Herald, S Varalakshmi, President of the Karnataka State Anganwadi Workers Association, CITU, said that the infrastructure had suffered due to a scarcity of funds. “Till 2018, the government granted only Rs. 1.80 lakh for infrastructure development per anganwadi. Recently the amount has been increased to Rs. 5 lakhs, as against our demand of Rs. 15 lakh taking present day costs into consideration.”

She also added that in several regions where toilets were made, especially in the Kalyana Karnataka region, there was no water.

“Anganwadi workers fetch water from afar. It is a serious issue. Also, the problem of dingy spaces persists in urban areas where space is a constraint. Here, many anganwadis also run from rented buildings. In such spaces, toilets are not available in the same building. In many instances, the government has not even paid rents and anganwadi workers are paying it from their pockets,” she said.

Meanwhile, it has been reported that 1,206 anganwadi centres in Dakshina Kannada do not have compound walls to prevent encroachers from taking upon the land. This puts the children at risk and the workers of the centre have to work hard to save the food-bearing plants and vegetables that grow in the premises and are consumed by the children there.

While some anganwadi centers across the country will have CCTV cameras set up soon, others are still grappling with problems related to basic amenities like no toilets and no take home ration.

Another issue that anganwadi workers and helpers face is of wages. These front-line workers, mostly women, are an invaluable link between the people and the government. However, till date, they haven’t received the due that they deserve for their work.

Sabrang India had reported the plight of these workers earlier. The Anganwadi workers have been battling for a minimum wage of Rs. 18,000 per month, garnering support from the Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU) and other outfits affiliated to the Communist Party of India (CPI – M). They complain that the salaries promised to them don’t come on time and sometimes they have to go months without getting their pay. At such times, they selflessly contribute from their own pockets – for charts, toys and other items, for they love the job they do. Not just this, they also prepare food and ensure the kids get a variety in their diet.

Till date, their dues are never mentioned as salaries, but are called honorariums. Their nature of work is never seen as hard labour and they are never looked at as employees, but as someone engaged in voluntary social service.

Regularization of anganwadi workers is still on the cards. The wage increase made in 2018 hasn’t been implemented efficiently yet.

It is rather disappointing to see the government’s apathy with regards to the anganwadi centers and the children and the employees there. With bureaucracy being so convoluted, it is difficult to say if the state of one of the most important pillars of the child development services will ever achieve their full potential, benefiting crores.


Related:

Will Anganwadi workers ever get their due?

Assam Midday Meal workers protest outside education minister’s residence

In K’taka anganwadis: No toilets, no ventilation and no water

A report has found that children and employees at these anganwadi centers are bereft from the most basic amenities

Anganwadi

The Committee on Local Bodies and Panchayat Raj for Karnataka tabled its report for 2019 – 20 in both the Houses has expressed concern about the infrastructure in anganwadis, while also mentioning the health risks due to the lack of toilets and ventilation, reported Deccan Herald.

The report stated that while the government was to build 3,026 new toilets in anganwadis across Karnatakas, only 1,663 toilets had been constructed at the time of compiling the report. Also, while 5,011 anganwadis were lined up for repair work, the repairs of only 2,965 had been completed.

It was also mentioned that while the construction of some anganwadis had not begun at all, in several other villages the walls were leaking due to being of poor quality. It was said that the funds for the infrastructure development of anganwadis had been diverted to civil works instead.

In Bagalkot, the toilet construction target was 238, but only 11 new toilets were made. In Ramnagar, no toilets were constructed against the given target of 121 and the same was with Raichur which had a target of 76 toilets to be constructed.

Speaking to Deccan Herald, S Varalakshmi, President of the Karnataka State Anganwadi Workers Association, CITU, said that the infrastructure had suffered due to a scarcity of funds. “Till 2018, the government granted only Rs. 1.80 lakh for infrastructure development per anganwadi. Recently the amount has been increased to Rs. 5 lakhs, as against our demand of Rs. 15 lakh taking present day costs into consideration.”

She also added that in several regions where toilets were made, especially in the Kalyana Karnataka region, there was no water.

“Anganwadi workers fetch water from afar. It is a serious issue. Also, the problem of dingy spaces persists in urban areas where space is a constraint. Here, many anganwadis also run from rented buildings. In such spaces, toilets are not available in the same building. In many instances, the government has not even paid rents and anganwadi workers are paying it from their pockets,” she said.

Meanwhile, it has been reported that 1,206 anganwadi centres in Dakshina Kannada do not have compound walls to prevent encroachers from taking upon the land. This puts the children at risk and the workers of the centre have to work hard to save the food-bearing plants and vegetables that grow in the premises and are consumed by the children there.

While some anganwadi centers across the country will have CCTV cameras set up soon, others are still grappling with problems related to basic amenities like no toilets and no take home ration.

Another issue that anganwadi workers and helpers face is of wages. These front-line workers, mostly women, are an invaluable link between the people and the government. However, till date, they haven’t received the due that they deserve for their work.

Sabrang India had reported the plight of these workers earlier. The Anganwadi workers have been battling for a minimum wage of Rs. 18,000 per month, garnering support from the Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU) and other outfits affiliated to the Communist Party of India (CPI – M). They complain that the salaries promised to them don’t come on time and sometimes they have to go months without getting their pay. At such times, they selflessly contribute from their own pockets – for charts, toys and other items, for they love the job they do. Not just this, they also prepare food and ensure the kids get a variety in their diet.

Till date, their dues are never mentioned as salaries, but are called honorariums. Their nature of work is never seen as hard labour and they are never looked at as employees, but as someone engaged in voluntary social service.

Regularization of anganwadi workers is still on the cards. The wage increase made in 2018 hasn’t been implemented efficiently yet.

It is rather disappointing to see the government’s apathy with regards to the anganwadi centers and the children and the employees there. With bureaucracy being so convoluted, it is difficult to say if the state of one of the most important pillars of the child development services will ever achieve their full potential, benefiting crores.


Related:

Will Anganwadi workers ever get their due?

Assam Midday Meal workers protest outside education minister’s residence

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Activists meet resolves to make right to education (RTE) plank for assembly polls: Bihar

21 Feb 2020

Right to education

A state-level meet, organized by the Right to Education (RTE) Forum, Bihar, has resolved to campaign to ensure that education should be made the main issue in the forthcoming state assembly elections, scheduled to take place in October this year. During the discussion, which centred around girl child education, speakers expressed concern on the lack of any improvement in the condition of girls in the public education system of Bihar. National convener of the RTE Forum, Ambarish Rai, said, “Millions of school children are still out of school, including in Bihar. The number of girls, who are out of school, is very high, which is very shameful for a healthy democracy." A round table of academics, educationists, and RTE activists attended.

"The most worrying thing is that despite a decade of implementation of the RTE Act, 2009, which is a very important tool for universalisation of primary education and fundamental right for every child between 6 and 14 years of age, the situation remains extremely difficult"  said Rai.  He added, "Statistics show that girls in India are less than half as likely to get 4 years of schooling as compared to boys. Around 30 per cent of the girls coming from poor families are such who have never been to school. Moreover, 40 per cent of adolescent girls of 15-18 do not go to any educational institution. ”

"A mere distribution of bicycles and school dress will not improve the condition of girl child education. There is a need to address issues ranging from current public spending on education to basic infrastructure for quality education, adequate number of qualified teachers, safety of girls going from home to school, and gender discrimination at all levels in the family and society. "

Earlier, welcoming the participants, Anil Rai, convener, RTE Forum, Bihar, said, "Neither Bihar nor the country can progress by evading issues of education, especially girl child education. Every person, every public representative, every party and every government will have to worry about this. Even after 70 years of independence, education has not been included in the main agenda of our governance." The gathering of activists decided to launch awareness campaign in every corner of the state to demand strengthening of the RTE Act, universalisation of education and implement uniform education system with an eye on the upcoming assembly elections.

Activists meet resolves to make right to education (RTE) plank for assembly polls: Bihar

Right to education

A state-level meet, organized by the Right to Education (RTE) Forum, Bihar, has resolved to campaign to ensure that education should be made the main issue in the forthcoming state assembly elections, scheduled to take place in October this year. During the discussion, which centred around girl child education, speakers expressed concern on the lack of any improvement in the condition of girls in the public education system of Bihar. National convener of the RTE Forum, Ambarish Rai, said, “Millions of school children are still out of school, including in Bihar. The number of girls, who are out of school, is very high, which is very shameful for a healthy democracy." A round table of academics, educationists, and RTE activists attended.

"The most worrying thing is that despite a decade of implementation of the RTE Act, 2009, which is a very important tool for universalisation of primary education and fundamental right for every child between 6 and 14 years of age, the situation remains extremely difficult"  said Rai.  He added, "Statistics show that girls in India are less than half as likely to get 4 years of schooling as compared to boys. Around 30 per cent of the girls coming from poor families are such who have never been to school. Moreover, 40 per cent of adolescent girls of 15-18 do not go to any educational institution. ”

"A mere distribution of bicycles and school dress will not improve the condition of girl child education. There is a need to address issues ranging from current public spending on education to basic infrastructure for quality education, adequate number of qualified teachers, safety of girls going from home to school, and gender discrimination at all levels in the family and society. "

Earlier, welcoming the participants, Anil Rai, convener, RTE Forum, Bihar, said, "Neither Bihar nor the country can progress by evading issues of education, especially girl child education. Every person, every public representative, every party and every government will have to worry about this. Even after 70 years of independence, education has not been included in the main agenda of our governance." The gathering of activists decided to launch awareness campaign in every corner of the state to demand strengthening of the RTE Act, universalisation of education and implement uniform education system with an eye on the upcoming assembly elections.

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IIT Kharagpur admin cancels seminar on ‘identity and citizenship’

Students protest undemocratic stand of the admin, univ officials say programme can’t be held on campus

13 Feb 2020

IIT Kharagpur

The IIT Kharagpur administration cancelled a seminar by the students of IIT Kharagpur on February 12, 2020 to discuss about the adverse effects of the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), National Population Register (NPR) and National Register of Citizens (NRC).

 

 

A spokesperson o the research body “Education Group” told NDTV that they were initially given permission to organize the programme at the IIT employee-run staff club within the campus. However, they were informed that the permission had been withdrawn for ‘some reasons’.

“We were informally told that discussions on such a contentious issue cannot be held within the campus area as per the instructions from higher authorities of IIT Kharagpur," the spokesperson said. “We had invited three speakers and none of them were politicians,” she added.

She also said that the discussion was to be a general academic discourse on identity and citizenship, without directly referring to the CAA-NPR-NRC.

Eminent journalist Subhojit Bagchi, Rights Activist Ranjit Sur and Professor Partho Sarathi Ray were scheduled to deliver their views at the seminar.

Ranjit Sur, said, "This is a knee-jerk response from IIT Kharagpur which shows they are not willing to allow debate on contemporary issues on the campus."

PTI reported that the officials did not want to talk to about it but a faculty who wished to remain anonymous said that the cancellation had nothing to do with the ‘pro-Centre’ or ‘anti-Centre’ policy of the institute.

“Our policy is not to allow any programme which may trigger tension, division and untoward incidents in the campus. The researchers are free to organize the programme outside the campus,” he said.

Not just this, the officials of the institute are now using the police to harass the students who organized the seminar and the police called the respective students for an interrogation about the initiative.

Students have urged that others condemn this completely undemocratic and unconstitutional atrocity by the police and the administration.


Related:

NPR process to begin in M’tra on May 1, conclude on June 15
Exclusive! MP to begin Census House listing & NPR from May 1- June 14
Centre “using” banks, post offices for CAA-NRC data collection: Mamata Banerjee

 

IIT Kharagpur admin cancels seminar on ‘identity and citizenship’

Students protest undemocratic stand of the admin, univ officials say programme can’t be held on campus

IIT Kharagpur

The IIT Kharagpur administration cancelled a seminar by the students of IIT Kharagpur on February 12, 2020 to discuss about the adverse effects of the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), National Population Register (NPR) and National Register of Citizens (NRC).

 

 

A spokesperson o the research body “Education Group” told NDTV that they were initially given permission to organize the programme at the IIT employee-run staff club within the campus. However, they were informed that the permission had been withdrawn for ‘some reasons’.

“We were informally told that discussions on such a contentious issue cannot be held within the campus area as per the instructions from higher authorities of IIT Kharagpur," the spokesperson said. “We had invited three speakers and none of them were politicians,” she added.

She also said that the discussion was to be a general academic discourse on identity and citizenship, without directly referring to the CAA-NPR-NRC.

Eminent journalist Subhojit Bagchi, Rights Activist Ranjit Sur and Professor Partho Sarathi Ray were scheduled to deliver their views at the seminar.

Ranjit Sur, said, "This is a knee-jerk response from IIT Kharagpur which shows they are not willing to allow debate on contemporary issues on the campus."

PTI reported that the officials did not want to talk to about it but a faculty who wished to remain anonymous said that the cancellation had nothing to do with the ‘pro-Centre’ or ‘anti-Centre’ policy of the institute.

“Our policy is not to allow any programme which may trigger tension, division and untoward incidents in the campus. The researchers are free to organize the programme outside the campus,” he said.

Not just this, the officials of the institute are now using the police to harass the students who organized the seminar and the police called the respective students for an interrogation about the initiative.

Students have urged that others condemn this completely undemocratic and unconstitutional atrocity by the police and the administration.


Related:

NPR process to begin in M’tra on May 1, conclude on June 15
Exclusive! MP to begin Census House listing & NPR from May 1- June 14
Centre “using” banks, post offices for CAA-NRC data collection: Mamata Banerjee

 

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Protests against Delhi police brutalities on women students at Jamia, inaction at Gargi College

It was reported that at least 10 women protestors at Jamia were hit on their private parts by the Delhi Police

12 Feb 2020

Protest

The students of CEPT University in Ahmedabad had called for an emergency protest to condemn the brutality of the Delhi Police on the students of the Jamia Millia Islamia University (JMI) and its inaction in the case of the incident of sexual assault at the Gargi College.

The protest was held at Sabarmati Ashram on February 12 from 5 – 7 PM. According to a participant, the protest started as scheduled, but the police dispersed the protestors 20 minutes later. The crowd then moved to protest at Nataraj Cinemas, near HK College of Arts, Ashram Road.

The police asked the peaceful protestors who were holding placards, to move away and stop their protest.

 

 

 

Allegedly, more than 10 women students were hit on their private parts and were found to have blunt trauma injuries the doctors said of the police attack on the students at JMI. Some students also suffered internal injuries as they had reportedly been hit on the chest with lathis, India Today reported.

At the all-girls Gargi College which was holding an annual fest, the students faced an onslaught of drunk men even with a heavy presence of police and security persons. The students were groped and molested and witnessed a display of sexual behaviour from the men who were not college students as affirmed by the students. The Principal, Promila Kumar denied having any knowledge of such an incident taking place in the college.

The current atmosphere in the wake of the anti-CAA-NPR_NRC protests has shown the brutality of not just the Delhi Police, but also the Uttar Pradesh police with regards to brutalities on women. Women protestors have been beaten up by the police – both male and female officials, several times and still continue to be attacked.

The complete nonchalance of the Delhi Police with regards to handling the incident at Gargi College just goes to show the complacency with regards to women’s safety in colleges. The police have not taken any accountability for their action and inaction and continue to either be passive observers, be it in the case of the Jamia shootout or puppets in the hands of the Central government.

 

Related:

Mahila Ekta Yatra in Delhi to express solidarity with anti-CAA  protestors
AIDWA demands immediate action against saffron goondaism in Gargi College
Jamia students allegedly attacked by police, again! 

 

Protests against Delhi police brutalities on women students at Jamia, inaction at Gargi College

It was reported that at least 10 women protestors at Jamia were hit on their private parts by the Delhi Police

Protest

The students of CEPT University in Ahmedabad had called for an emergency protest to condemn the brutality of the Delhi Police on the students of the Jamia Millia Islamia University (JMI) and its inaction in the case of the incident of sexual assault at the Gargi College.

The protest was held at Sabarmati Ashram on February 12 from 5 – 7 PM. According to a participant, the protest started as scheduled, but the police dispersed the protestors 20 minutes later. The crowd then moved to protest at Nataraj Cinemas, near HK College of Arts, Ashram Road.

The police asked the peaceful protestors who were holding placards, to move away and stop their protest.

 

 

 

Allegedly, more than 10 women students were hit on their private parts and were found to have blunt trauma injuries the doctors said of the police attack on the students at JMI. Some students also suffered internal injuries as they had reportedly been hit on the chest with lathis, India Today reported.

At the all-girls Gargi College which was holding an annual fest, the students faced an onslaught of drunk men even with a heavy presence of police and security persons. The students were groped and molested and witnessed a display of sexual behaviour from the men who were not college students as affirmed by the students. The Principal, Promila Kumar denied having any knowledge of such an incident taking place in the college.

The current atmosphere in the wake of the anti-CAA-NPR_NRC protests has shown the brutality of not just the Delhi Police, but also the Uttar Pradesh police with regards to brutalities on women. Women protestors have been beaten up by the police – both male and female officials, several times and still continue to be attacked.

The complete nonchalance of the Delhi Police with regards to handling the incident at Gargi College just goes to show the complacency with regards to women’s safety in colleges. The police have not taken any accountability for their action and inaction and continue to either be passive observers, be it in the case of the Jamia shootout or puppets in the hands of the Central government.

 

Related:

Mahila Ekta Yatra in Delhi to express solidarity with anti-CAA  protestors
AIDWA demands immediate action against saffron goondaism in Gargi College
Jamia students allegedly attacked by police, again! 

 

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Budget 2020 shows the bleak future of higher education in India

Calling for 100 percent FDI and more public-private-partnerships, the future of higher education in India looks worrisome

06 Feb 2020

education budget

In the Union Budget 2020, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman earmarked Rs. 99,311 crore for the education sector in 2020 – 21 and around Rs. 3,000 crore on skill development.  In the 2020 – 21 budget, the major chunk – Rs. 59,845 crore has gone to the school education and literacy department, the fledgling higher education department has received a paltry Rs. 39,466 crore.  While Rs. 99,311 crore does look like a whopping statistic, on closer look it reveals only a 5 percent increase from the previous year’s allocation which was Rs. 94,800 crore. Digging deeper, it also shows that the amount dedicated to boost higher education just does not fulfil the requirements of the sector.


Budgetary allocation

This year, in the budget announced by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, there was a proposed 3 percent increase for education, a figure that is lesser than inflation which stood at 7.35 percent, reported The Telegraph. The FM also said that steps to allow 100 percent foreign direct investment to ensure high quality education would be taken soon. Sitharaman also announced the establishment of hospitals and medical colleges in every district through the public-private-partnership model.

A sum of Rs 500 crore has been allocated for the Prime Minister’s dream “world-class institutions” project, against Rs 400 crore last year. The scheme aims to provide 10 government institutions with Rs 1,000 crore each over five years.

For higher education, the budget allocated for 2020-21 Rs. 39,466 against Rs. 38,317 in 2019-20. The budget allocated for scholarships fell to Rs. 141 crore in 2020 – 21 from Rs. 356 crore in the current fiscal. This after the University Grants Commission trying to abolish the non-National Eligibility Test (NET) fellowship citing shortage of funds which was rolled back after a student protest. The non-NET fellowship granted every PhD scholar Rs. 8,000 a month and MPhil student Rs. 5,000 a month, a boon for students from poor families. In 2018, out of the total education budget of Rs. 81,868 crore, Rs. 35,010 was allocated for higher education which was 46% percent of the total budget as compared to 39.4 percent of the current budget. In 2017, this number stood at 41 percent and in 2016 it was 39.83 percent. 

The 2020 budget also emphasized the need for quality teacher education, but the reduced budgetary outlay for the same from Rs. 870 crores in 2018-19, to Rs. 125 crore in 2019-20 and now to Rs. 110 crore for 2020-21, just goes to suggest that the government has not made this a priority.


Experts speak on why the higher education is still set to suffer

The decision of the government to attract FDI only goes to indicate that government funding towards education would decline in the future. This would lead to higher privatisation and higher fees, a move that all higher education institutes, especially the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) and Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) have been fighting for so long.

Through the proposed PPP model, the shift of the government in financing medical education is also apparent. It has not allocated any budget to establishing new medical colleges and adding seats to government medical colleges in the current budget.

Girish Shahane a writer on politics, history and art expressed his opinion on Livemint saying, “As the Centre curtails provisions, universities have sought to bolster other sources of income. A sharp increase in room rents and mess charges in late October sparked an agitation in Delhi’s JNU which culminated in a ghastly attack on the campus by masked activists on January 5. Opponents of the fee hike pointed out that nearly 40% of students admitted to JNU had a monthly family income below ₹12,000, and would find it difficult, if not impossible, to pay the rates enumerated in the new hostel manual, especially a new monthly service charge of ₹1,700.”

Already the Union budget of 2018-19 scrapped grants for creating new infrastructure within institutions like Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs), Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs) and Central Universities. In its place, the Higher Education Financing Agency (Hefa), a joint venture between the human resources ministry and Canara Bank, would provide loans to approved projects, which would be “serviced through internal accruals". The Centre was to pay the interest on the loans, but the principal amounts were to be paid by the institutions through research and consultancy – revenue amounts no university could generated on its own and had to borrow.

Universities could launch endowment funds to attract donations, but were less likely to garner generous support from philanthropic organizations to fill the huge void left by the government.

Former vice-chancellor of Ambedkar University, Prof. Shyam Menon, told The Telegraph that without subsidised higher education of acceptable quality, the poor and marginalised would have no way to transcend their social and economic obstacles and aspire to claim their legitimate share of India’s economic growth. He said, “They will be the first ones to be affected by any kind of reduction in subsidy. It is so unfair that the state is rolling back its commitment to support public higher education just when the first-generation school graduates from the margins attempt to access it. This is their only chance for any kind of social mobility.” Menon also said that in the past two decades, ignoring the recommendations of the Kothari Commission 1966, the government had sought to shift from liberal to technical and professional streams after being influenced by the Ambani-Birla report of 2000.https://ssl.gstatic.com/ui/v1/icons/mail/images/cleardot.gif

The Kothari Commission 1966 and the Niti Aayog had recommended that India should increase its education expenditure to nearly 6 percent of its GDP over the next four years. However, that number currently stands at just a little above 3 percent.

Speaking to The Telegraph, Professor Amitabh Kundu, a distinguished fellow at the government think tank Research and Information System, also disapproved of the recent practice of the government to ask institutions to raise funds internally to manage their expenditure. “Education should be a part of the superstructure which should guide the creation of the economic and social structure rather than being subservient to the latter. The institutions thereby will fail to build an environment and culture of independent thinking on larger issues of societal change and inclusive development,” he said.

From the Film and Television Institute of India (FTII) to JNU to the students of MTech, higher education institutes have been continuously protesting against the fee hikes imposed on the students. The government’s budget cuts have forced the institutions to ramp up their fees, thus forcing the ones for socio-economically weak backgrounds to be left out of the fold of education.

 

Budget 2020 shows the bleak future of higher education in India

Calling for 100 percent FDI and more public-private-partnerships, the future of higher education in India looks worrisome

education budget

In the Union Budget 2020, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman earmarked Rs. 99,311 crore for the education sector in 2020 – 21 and around Rs. 3,000 crore on skill development.  In the 2020 – 21 budget, the major chunk – Rs. 59,845 crore has gone to the school education and literacy department, the fledgling higher education department has received a paltry Rs. 39,466 crore.  While Rs. 99,311 crore does look like a whopping statistic, on closer look it reveals only a 5 percent increase from the previous year’s allocation which was Rs. 94,800 crore. Digging deeper, it also shows that the amount dedicated to boost higher education just does not fulfil the requirements of the sector.


Budgetary allocation

This year, in the budget announced by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, there was a proposed 3 percent increase for education, a figure that is lesser than inflation which stood at 7.35 percent, reported The Telegraph. The FM also said that steps to allow 100 percent foreign direct investment to ensure high quality education would be taken soon. Sitharaman also announced the establishment of hospitals and medical colleges in every district through the public-private-partnership model.

A sum of Rs 500 crore has been allocated for the Prime Minister’s dream “world-class institutions” project, against Rs 400 crore last year. The scheme aims to provide 10 government institutions with Rs 1,000 crore each over five years.

For higher education, the budget allocated for 2020-21 Rs. 39,466 against Rs. 38,317 in 2019-20. The budget allocated for scholarships fell to Rs. 141 crore in 2020 – 21 from Rs. 356 crore in the current fiscal. This after the University Grants Commission trying to abolish the non-National Eligibility Test (NET) fellowship citing shortage of funds which was rolled back after a student protest. The non-NET fellowship granted every PhD scholar Rs. 8,000 a month and MPhil student Rs. 5,000 a month, a boon for students from poor families. In 2018, out of the total education budget of Rs. 81,868 crore, Rs. 35,010 was allocated for higher education which was 46% percent of the total budget as compared to 39.4 percent of the current budget. In 2017, this number stood at 41 percent and in 2016 it was 39.83 percent. 

The 2020 budget also emphasized the need for quality teacher education, but the reduced budgetary outlay for the same from Rs. 870 crores in 2018-19, to Rs. 125 crore in 2019-20 and now to Rs. 110 crore for 2020-21, just goes to suggest that the government has not made this a priority.


Experts speak on why the higher education is still set to suffer

The decision of the government to attract FDI only goes to indicate that government funding towards education would decline in the future. This would lead to higher privatisation and higher fees, a move that all higher education institutes, especially the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) and Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) have been fighting for so long.

Through the proposed PPP model, the shift of the government in financing medical education is also apparent. It has not allocated any budget to establishing new medical colleges and adding seats to government medical colleges in the current budget.

Girish Shahane a writer on politics, history and art expressed his opinion on Livemint saying, “As the Centre curtails provisions, universities have sought to bolster other sources of income. A sharp increase in room rents and mess charges in late October sparked an agitation in Delhi’s JNU which culminated in a ghastly attack on the campus by masked activists on January 5. Opponents of the fee hike pointed out that nearly 40% of students admitted to JNU had a monthly family income below ₹12,000, and would find it difficult, if not impossible, to pay the rates enumerated in the new hostel manual, especially a new monthly service charge of ₹1,700.”

Already the Union budget of 2018-19 scrapped grants for creating new infrastructure within institutions like Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs), Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs) and Central Universities. In its place, the Higher Education Financing Agency (Hefa), a joint venture between the human resources ministry and Canara Bank, would provide loans to approved projects, which would be “serviced through internal accruals". The Centre was to pay the interest on the loans, but the principal amounts were to be paid by the institutions through research and consultancy – revenue amounts no university could generated on its own and had to borrow.

Universities could launch endowment funds to attract donations, but were less likely to garner generous support from philanthropic organizations to fill the huge void left by the government.

Former vice-chancellor of Ambedkar University, Prof. Shyam Menon, told The Telegraph that without subsidised higher education of acceptable quality, the poor and marginalised would have no way to transcend their social and economic obstacles and aspire to claim their legitimate share of India’s economic growth. He said, “They will be the first ones to be affected by any kind of reduction in subsidy. It is so unfair that the state is rolling back its commitment to support public higher education just when the first-generation school graduates from the margins attempt to access it. This is their only chance for any kind of social mobility.” Menon also said that in the past two decades, ignoring the recommendations of the Kothari Commission 1966, the government had sought to shift from liberal to technical and professional streams after being influenced by the Ambani-Birla report of 2000.https://ssl.gstatic.com/ui/v1/icons/mail/images/cleardot.gif

The Kothari Commission 1966 and the Niti Aayog had recommended that India should increase its education expenditure to nearly 6 percent of its GDP over the next four years. However, that number currently stands at just a little above 3 percent.

Speaking to The Telegraph, Professor Amitabh Kundu, a distinguished fellow at the government think tank Research and Information System, also disapproved of the recent practice of the government to ask institutions to raise funds internally to manage their expenditure. “Education should be a part of the superstructure which should guide the creation of the economic and social structure rather than being subservient to the latter. The institutions thereby will fail to build an environment and culture of independent thinking on larger issues of societal change and inclusive development,” he said.

From the Film and Television Institute of India (FTII) to JNU to the students of MTech, higher education institutes have been continuously protesting against the fee hikes imposed on the students. The government’s budget cuts have forced the institutions to ramp up their fees, thus forcing the ones for socio-economically weak backgrounds to be left out of the fold of education.

 

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