'Truth spoken without moderation reverses itself'
This blog is a source for intellectual exploration. It includes a list of alternative resources and a source of free books. The placement of an article does not imply that I agree with it, merely that I found it thought-provoking. There are also poems and book reviews. Texts written by me are labelled. Readers are free to re-post anything they like.
Thursday, September 22, 2016
ANGELLICA ARIBAM - At BHU, Women are Being Restricted by RSS’s Chains
stranglehold over the university has subsumed democratic representation
and heightened gender discrimination on campus.
In the last two years
we have seen massive student unrest across universities in the country because
of a systematic attack on the autonomy of educational institutions and the
freedom of students. One university that has been brewing with fascist
tendencies, but is yet to witness outrage along the lines of FTII, Hyderabad Central
University, JNU or NIT Srinagar is Banaras Hindu
University (BHU). BHU is a renowned university that houses around 40,000
students making it one of Asia’s largest residential campuses.
The university has
been trying to subvert the idea of democracy for the last couple of years.
It has escalated with the appointment of Girish Chandra Tripathi as the vice
chancellor, after Narendra Modi’s government came to power. Students, teachers,
workers are not represented democratically. Tripathi believes in a dictatorial
mode of functioning and takes immense pride in his 40 years of candid association
with the RSS. He has been accused of openly espousing RSS ideology and has
expelled renowned social activist and Ramon Magsaysay award winner Sandeep Pandey for not toeing
the Sangh parivar’s line. Similarly, when objections were raised to
his use of the university as a unit for the RSS, Tripathi unapologetically
said, “When the Indian government itself is of the RSS, there is nothing wrong
in establishing an RSS’ shakha in BHU.“
When such a man is at
the helm of affairs, expecting women to be treated as equals would be asking
for too much. The RSS is notorious for its diktats on women. Unsurprisingly,
the BHU administration has imposed various restrictions specifically
on girl students. For instance, the administration has banned the usage of
mobile phones by girls after 10 pm. The vice chancellor has said that
“girls who study in the night are immoral,” as a consequence of which, girls
have been disallowed from using the 24×7 library at night. Despite the bus
facility being a service provided to all students, as per the prospectus of the
university, women are not allowed to avail it. Women students were also made
to sign an affidavit pledging that they won’t indulge in any protest or
agitation, which directly stripped them of the fundamental right to raise their
voices against injustice. Furthermore, they are not allowed to participate in
any socio-cultural activities outside the campus.
men and women exist in the hostel norms too – while men can consume meat,
women are banned from doing so. The vice chancellor believes that “consumption
of non-vegetarian food makes women impure according to the Malviya values”. In
the name of safety, women have a curfew of 8 pm, while men
have none. Women wearing short dresses and skirts are admonished by the
administration. It is rather unfortunate that learned women in such a
prestigious university are unable to even assemble together and talk about
their plight, because the administration has taken away that constitutional
Tripathi keeps harping
on about how “boys and girls hanging out together is against Indian
values”. The university came out with a notification earlier this year saying
that anyone found celebrating Valentine’s Day would be attributed “category-A
punishment” – a euphemism for suspension.
Not so long ago, when
students demanded a cyber library, the administration suspended their agitation
by saying that “such a library will be used by the students to watch
pornography. There is no need for a cyber library because students need not
study anything outside the syllabus”.
It cannot get more
absurd than this, but we can always trust the RSS’s proclivity for the absurd.
There is no doubt that
BHU is the model university that the RSS wants every other institution of the
country to turn into. It is exemplar of a space where only those belonging
to upper castes form the majority of the administrative body, where the
positions meant for representing people from the reserved categories remains
unfilled and people belonging to an accepted ideology are being appointed.
There is no space for students to question or exercise their right to dissent
and women are subjugated and voiceless.
In an attempt to
dissolve the RSS’s agenda in the university, some concerned students of BHU have
joined hands and formed a joint action committee with the intention to create
awareness about the rights and remedies available to the students at a local
level. The committee will also disseminate information about the wrongs
happening within the walls ofBHU to the outside world. The students are
fighting the RSS and all the institutional backing it has, singlehandedly, and require
all possible support to sustain their movement.