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Mainstream, VOL LIV No 18, New Delhi, April 23, 2016

Systematically Dismantling the Academic Credibility of our Institutions


Monday 25 April 2016, by Sandeep Pandey


Associate Professor Shreya Bhattacharji is the latest target of the Sangh Parivar. She was suspended from the Central University of Jharkhand by the Vice-Chancellor, Nand Kumar Yadav, for having invited retired Professor M.N. Panini of the Centre for the Study of Social Systems, School of Social Sciences, Jawaharlal Nehru University to a CUJ event as the guest of honour. Panini has been accused of being a mentor of the students from JNU who face sedition charges. The fact is that Panini is now a Distinguished Professor at the Centre of Excellence for Sustainable Business Innovations, MYRA School of Business in Karnataka and was not associated with the recent events at JNU. A CUJ order describes Panini as a person of disputed integrity. The University authorities panicked when the Governor cancelled her programme in which she was to share the dais with Panini. Now the VC is giving the excuse of threats he received to disrupt Panini’s lecture for having cancelled the invitation to him. Just as charges against JNU students remain unproved, now false charges have been levelled against Panini and Bhattacharji.

As an academic Panini concerns himself with the question of rising inequalities with the process of economic growth. Bhattarcharji was the Dean of the Schools of Languages and Education in addition to being the Dean of Students’ Welfare at CUJ. Quite clearly she was an outstanding academic as well as an able administrator. The VC may think that the image of the University was tarnished and reputation of the VC was put at stake but the reality is that the VC has damaged the reputation of not one but two serious academics vitiating the academic atmosphere of his campus as well as the country by bowing to the political pressures of the Sangh Parivar.

Professor Binda Paranjape was prevented from becoming the Head of the History Department at Banaras Hindu University, as it was her turn going by the rules, when Aruna Sinha was made the Head for the third time against the provisions of the BHU Act. Corruption charges have been proved against Sinha in the past and the amount recovered from her. The reason for her appointment was to pave the way for new recruitments of people associated with the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh. Aruna Sinha’s two research students have been appointed as Assistant Professors, one of whom, Brijesh, was accused of harassment by girl students of the Mahila Mahavidyalaya inside BHU where he used to teach earlier. Two other new recruitments as Assistant Professors have indulged in plagiarism. Ashok Kumar’s Ph.D dissertation is completely plagiarised while an article of Satyapal is also plagiarised.

Gyan Prakash Mishra has been appointed as an Associate Professor in the Department of Journalism and Mass Communication without a Ph.D in this field. His degree is in Hindi. Moreover he doesn’t have a teaching experience of eight years which is required for the post. He is known for his proximity to the former HRD Minister, Murali Manohar Joshi.

The VC, Girish Chandra Tripathi, who is overseeing all these irregularities at BHU, doesn’t himself have an academic record to boast of. People don’t remember when he taught last at Allahabad University, where he held a faculty position in the Economics Department, or did any research.

A similar controversial appointment was that of Gajendra Singh Chauhan as the Chairman of the Film and Television Institute of India, that has been opposed by the campus community. Chauhan has not distinguished himself in any field of cinema which makes him eminent enough to hold the post of head of an institution.
Amit Sengupta, a distinguished journalist and Senior Faculty at the Indian Institute of Mass Communication, had to resign as he was transferred to faraway Dhenkanal district of Odisha. He was targeted for having supported student protests at FTII, Hyderabad Central University and JNU.

Two Professors, K.Y. Ratnam and Tathagata Sengupta, were among the 27 arrested from the Hyderabad Central University campus after protests against the return of the VC, Appa Rao Podile, against whom and Central Minister Bandaru Dattatreya, an FIR has been filed for abetment to Rohith Vemula’s suicide and under the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act. Ratnam is the Head of Ambedkarite Studies Department and Sengupta is a Professor of Mathematics.

The retired Professor Chaman Lal’s lecture on Bhagat Singh at Delhi University was disrupted by the Akhil Bhartiya Vidyarthi Parishad activists on March 18. The Professor’s attempt to engage the protestors in dialogue failed. Chaman Lal has authored a book Understanding Bhagat Singh.

A Ph.D from Cambridge University and Faculty Member at the Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bela Bhatia, has been working as a researcher in Chhattisgarh since 2007. She is now the target of the Sangh Parivar as she has helped several tribal women file FIRs against security personnel for gang-rape and grievous sexual assaults.

FROM the above list of events we can see that during the BJP rule, while competent academics are being hounded out or harassed at institutions governed by the Central Government, the Sangh Parivar is destroying the academic atmosphere of campuses by filling positions by persons of doubtful capabilities or character whose only claim to ‘fame’ is their association with the RSS. This will have the overall effect of lowering the academic standards of our already mediocre institutions when compared internationally.

An RSS-associated BHU Professor of Political Science, Kaushal Kishore Mishra, was arrested for instigating an attack on Aam Aadmi Party leader Somnath Bharti during the campaign for the last general elections in Varanasi. While such people openly indulge in political activities, hold RSS shakhas on campuses, indulge in violent actions, they are now targeting people believing in ideologies different from theirs, accusing them of politicising the campuses. Our academic campuses face the most serious threat at the moment from the Sangh Parivar which is out to ruin them in its bid to take control of them. In the process the free atmosphere of campuses, critical for rational enquiry, is being stifled.

It does not bother the RSS that Nobel Laureate Venkatraman Ramakrishnan has decided not to attend the Indian Science Congress, which he described as a circus, ever again as he objected to politics and religious ideology being mixed with science.

Noted social activist and Magsaysay awardee

Dr Sandeep Pandey was recently sacked this year from the IIT-BHU where he was a Visiting Professor on the charge of being a “Naxalite” engaging in “anti-national” activities. He was elected along with Prof Keshav Jadhav the Vice-President of the Socialist Party (India) at its founding conference at Hyderabad on May 28-29, 2011.

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