Subin Dennis responds to the pseudo-intellectual froth delivered in a sermon in Times of India by a doctoral fellow from JNU supporting the obnoxious seat cut in JNU. (Here's the article in reference by Arunoday Majumdar:
It is not very often that I read 'The Times of India', but when some of my friends sent me a link to an article written by a JNU student in ToI justifying seat cuts in the University, I had to take a look.
The massive seat cuts in JNU (1212 seats have been reduced compared to the number of seats approved by the Academic Council) have caused a serious setback to the University and a colossal loss of opportunity for a large number of students all across the country. But the author of the ToI article thinks that the seat is a blessing. The article slams JNU for its student politics and claims that the University produces little other than "lengthy slogans and lousy research".
Now, if this article is representative of the standards of research in JNU these days, I would have to sadly agree with the author that the academics in the University has indeed become lousy.
The article says, for instance, "Of the more than 8,500 students in the residential university, only 4,865 students had stepped out and cast their votes in the last student election. Among them, 1,077 voted NOTA."
Sure, the article is not a research paper and it was published in ToI, but that doesn't mean cooking up data is justified. According to figures published by the Election Committee, the number of students who cast their votes in the JNU Students Union Elections 2016-17 is 5138, not 4865. The maximum number of votes polled for NOTA was 437 (for the post of Vice-President), less than half the figure of 1077 claimed by the author. In other office-bearer posts, the NOTA votes cast were as follows: President - 135, General Secretary - 296, Joint Secretary - 272.
Soon after this faux pas, the author makes this astonishing claim: "[The UGC notification] will discourage the possibility of seat distribution on the basis of ideological affiliations of candidates... With the upper limit of the number of supervisees now fixed, only the very best from all social sections will gain admission."
Now this is logically fallacious. If the seat distribution is done on the basis of the ideological affiliations of candidates as is alleged, what prevents the practice from continuing even when the number of seats are lower? On the other hand, if the best from all sections are the ones who have been gaining admission (as I would argue), there is no reason why the practice should be undermined by the number of seats being higher. In other words, even if we assume, for the sake of argument, that the allegation that candidates gain admissions "on the basis of ideological affiliations" was somehow true, it would have nothing to do with the number of seats.
There is no proof yet that the student-teacher ratio in JNU has become so worse that the teachers are unable to supervise the research work of their students. A large number of teachers have asserted the contrary. They readily recognise that the move is to target higher education and research in India. Having failed to take over the central universities of India by muzzling dissent directly, the RSS-BJP have realised that it would be easier for them if there are fewer research students in the country. After all, research in the social sciences and humanities teach people to read, think and debate. Once they do that, they become critical of the communal-fascist forces which are trying to rip our country apart. When that is the case, why bother to fund and sustain all these places from which critical voices are emerging? Thus comes the solution: curtail student intake.
The author then goes on to make yet another dubious claim: "The only indication of excellence in research is publication in peer-reviewed books and journals."
Can "excellence" or the quality of research be reduced to numbers? Unsurprisingly, this very same belief is the one underlying the UGC's discredited API score system as well.
On the one hand, there are a number of research areas and topics where papers can be published relatively quickly and in larger numbers, while there are other areas on the other hand where it will take more time for research papers to be written and published. In yet other cases, the M.Phil. or Ph.D. work might be the precursor to a much larger body of work or one with deeper insights and hence publications might come at a later stage. There would also be a number of people for whom research as part of M.Phil. or Ph.D.provides the foundation before they turn to some other field. A number of concrete examples can be given which correspond to each of these cases.
The key point here is that the number of research papers or books published per se is not a barometer with which to assess the quality of research.
Nevertheless, if one assumes that the conditions as outlined above would be not be very different in the universities all across the country, it might be possible to use statistics regarding publications to arrive at some conclusions regarding the state of research in a University in comparison with other universities. (Let us also disregard, for now, the various rankings which put JNU among the top Universities in India - such rankings come with their own set of problems.)
Therefore if one is to say that the proportion of published theses (or the number of publications by researchers in general) in a University is abysmally low, one has to produce comparable statistics for at least a few other universities as well. So what statistics does our author provide to make his case? Absolutely none - whether it is for JNU, or for any other University! The author seems to think that something can be proven merely by stating it.
The only figures the author has bothered to cite in his article are the polling and NOTA figures - which, as we saw earlier, turned out to be completely botched!
Considering the factual, logical and analytical errors in the article, it could very well have been titled, "How not to make an argument". As our Professor Utsa Patnaik keeps saying, a course on logic should be compulsory for all University students!
Close on the heels of Delhi’s Ramjas College, Savitribai Phule Pune University campus became the site of ABVP hooliganism last week. Students Federation of India (SFI) activists were attacked by ABVP goons on February 24 night inside the campus while putting up posters of a protest programme. Nasir Sheikh, PhD student and President of SFI’s Pune University unit, Sandeep Marbhal, MA student and Secretary of the unit, two other PhD students Satish Gore and Satish Padalkar and an MPhil student Satish Debade were brutally beaten. What is more, the injured SFI leaders were taken to police custody and a case slapped against them! The local police connived with ruling party elements to misrepresent the incident as a case of ‘clash’ between two student organizations but the truth is that it was a premeditated act of violence by ABVP. Apart from Ramjas college incident, BJP legislator Prashant Paricharak’s controversial comments in Solapur insulting wives of Army men, Education Minister Vinod Tawde threatening Polytechnic students and recent attack by ABVP on some Dalit students in Aurangabad university had caused much churning among Pune university students. The SFI was campaigning among the students on all these issues and had called for a protest demonstration inside the campus. It was certain that ABVP would be doomed in the campus if a democratic climate of open debate and freedom of assembly prevailed. That is why ABVP resorted to muscle power in Pune University.
But the violence that they unleashed has only galvanized the student and youth in a widening resistance against ABVP’s muscle flexing. On February 27, hundreds of students assembled in a protest demonstration organized by SFI in front of University gate denouncing ABVP violence, mischievous Police intervention and undemocratic stance of University authorities. Youth volunteers from Pune city under DYFI banner joined them. The police who sought to thwart the demonstration initially had to back out when the number of protesters swelled to many hundreds. SFI Central Secretariat member Datta Chavan, State President Mohan Jadhav, University Unit president Nasir Sheikh and DYFI Pune District President Jnaneswar Mote addressed the protest meeting. Later the leaders met the Vice Chancellor demanding strict action against ABVP goons and instituting democratic student life in the campus.
On the same day, students and youth under the leadership of SFI and DYFI came out on the streets in several towns across Maharashtra shouting slogans against ABVP, BJP and RSS, singing songs in protest and burning effigies. Demonstrations were held in Junnar, Karad, Jalgaon, Dindori, Solapur, Beed, Nanded University, Parbhani, Amravati city, Nandgaon Khandeshwar and many other places.
In Mumbai, renowned film maker Anand Patwardhan, AIDWA national General Secretary Mariam Dhawale, Firoz Mithibhorwala of ‘Indian Muslims for Secular Democracy’, CPI(M) leaders Ashok Dhawale and Shailendra Kamble and many other eminent citizens joined the student and youth protesters. Addressing the youth and students, Anand Patwardhan outlined the track record of ABVP, another arm of RSS which was formed when RSS was banned after Mahatma Gandhi’s assassination. They are now roaming around terrorizing students and teachers. Patwardhan said ABVP does not have any patriotic legacy, instead they have inherited the legacy of Savarkar who begged for mercy from British imperialism. Mariam Dhawale said the despicable reaction to Gurmehar Kaur is just an indication of pathological patriarchal mindset of ABVP and the entire Sangh Parivar. She said the government has nothing to offer to millions of people facing starvation and malnutrition but the ruling Party dictates what to eat, what to wear and whom to marry. Dr. Ashok Dhawle said that after BJP came to power in 2014, the liberal and democratic space in campuses have shrunk alarmingly in the country. The tragic experience of Rohith Vemula, the attack on JNU students, disappearance of Najeeb and the spate of incidents involving the ABVP at universities in Pune, Delhi, JNU, Allahabad Jadhavpur and other Universities demonstrate the intensity of attack on democracy in campuses. ABVP is spearheading this assault but it is no secret that it is acting under patronage of BJP government, he said.
It is a fact that majoritarian communal forces dominate politics and social life in Maharashtra today. But the way hundreds of students of Pune University courageously rallied against the attack on SFI leaders and the protests that occurred in various towns showed that resistance against rightwing authoritarianism is gathering momentum in the state.
Nitheesh Narayanan writes an open letter to JNU Professor Kamal Mitra Chenoy in response to his highly biased and manipulated write up on the political violence in Kannur. Here is the truth behind the mounting terror of RSS on left activists in Kannur, a northern district of Kerala.
Dear Prof. Kamal Mitra Chenoy,
I read your piece in dailyo.in about the political violence in Kannur titled “Why isn’t Kerala cracking down on RSS and CPM’s bloody war in Kannur?” I was dismayed to see that the article has completely ignored the ground reality. I do not see any difference in how certain corporate media portrays Kannur and what you have written in this above mentioned piece. As a person who has grown up in that district and also had to face the physical attacks and murder threats many times from the Sangh brigade, let me respond to certain arguments you are making.
As a former student of you, I am terribly disturbed that the arguments advanced about the cause of the violence come out to be baseless, one-sided, and utterly false except that they fit into the Sangh script. I hope you will find certain time to visit Kannur and source the facts from the ground. I would affirm that, it is not a ‘dark area’, as you chose to describe Kannur in the article. I am confident enough to say, one will find it difficult to find a district in this country which has more number of public libraries than Kannur. I have the same level of confidence to say that you will be surprised to count the number of arts clubs and cultural platforms and the vibrancy in their functioning in each locality of the district. It is also a place in this country where collective social entrepreneurship in the form of co-operatives provides employment to the largest number of people. Let me also state that you will fail to prove that it is in Kannur that the most number of murders are happening. I don’t know who is providing you the information about this place or you just chose to believe what you have read in the right wing corporate media. Anyways, you must spend some days in Kannur. Let me offer you one of a the most fascinating experiences both as a political scientist and also as a peace loving human. Try it, it will cost only your biases and prejudices. Here, I am only attempting to show the irrationality of the testimonials you presented in the article.
In the sub-title to the article, you write that once the truth comes out, many in the country will wonder how all this went on for so long. If people of great credential like you are presenting the matters like this, I am disappointed to say that the country may take a long time to learn the truth. Fortunately, we, who live in Kannur have our lives to assess [definitely not to wonder] why this is so than waiting for your theories written from the glass houses. In the first statement itself you are reproducing a rightwing argument that whether ruled by the Left Democratic Front (LDF) or the United Democratic Front (UDF), the social welfare system was maintained and efforts were made to improve the living conditions of the poor!! Don’t you think that making this general statement and equalizing the role of left and right in improving the living conditions of the poor, you are committing an injustice to the history of Kerala which was filled with agrarian struggles and communist movements for equal rights and dignity? I thought at least your long time association with CPI must have taught you about the land reform and education bill. You seem to be clueless about how the communists ensured the continuity of the social reform movement of Narayana Guru, Ayyankali, Poykayil Appachan etc. I can only wish you go through the works of your peers. For that matter, I do not think your colleagues in CPI will have any other opinion.
Have you ever tried to trace out the background of the widely talked ‘violence’ in Kannur? Is it started all of a sudden at some point in the history? If so, why Kannur? Enquiry about this will lead you to late 60s, the time when Sangh Parivar planned its entry to Kannur as the henchmen of the owners of the Ganesh Beedi company which was based in Mangalore. This company got frustrated in EMS government’s decision to implement welfare fund for Beedi workers who were paid very low. The workers who were unionized by the Communist party stood vehemently for their rights. It provoked the Mangalore based company and they brought their criminal gang to attack the protesting workers. They also attempted to destroy the unity of the workers by making another union which will dance at the tune of the company. They also dismissed the Left trade union members. Company was also closed for some time to put the weaken the living conditions of the poor workers and force them to surrender before the company. But the Communist party, breaking the calculations of Sangh brigade, formed a co-operative firm for beedi production called ‘Dinesh beedi’. This actually aggravated the annoyance of the Ganesh company and they send its allies to physically attack the beedi workers who stands with the Communist party. The Beedi production units were attacked several times. Like what happened in Mumbai or Italy or Germany, the Sangh parivar fascists came to the picture by attacking the trade unions workers unity in Kannur. The first attempt to destroy the powerful trade unionism was resisted. Then they tried to foment communal violence for expanding their roots. That is how they planned Thalassery riot by spreading hatred against Muslims. You must get a copy of Justice Vithayathil Commission report which enquired about the riot and understand the role of CPIM under the leadership of the current chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan in defeating the divisive communal agenda of RSS. You will also get to know about UK Kunhiraman, a CPIM Branch secretary who was killed by RSS for protecting a mosque. You will see the incidents of unleashing communal violence wherever the fascists have planned an entry. This is what was fought and defeated by the CPIM in Kannur. Since then, after failing two different plans to make inroads to the region, the RSS turned into a planof physical annihilation of CPIM activists in the district and it continues still.
You must be aware of the number of Shakhas RSS has in Gujarat. It is less than 1800. In UP, one of the largest states in the country, RSS has less than 4000 Shakhas. In Karnataka the number is less than 3000. Remember the criminal roles they played, genocides they unleashed, riots they organized in all these states. Do you know how many Shakhas they have in small Kerala? It is more than 4500! That is the organizational strength that they have built in Kerala over the decades with a planned agenda to infiltrate into the social lives of Kerala. I hope, as a serious political commentator you must have studied RSS and learned how much plan and focused work is behind the building of any Sangh Parivar outfit. Still they could not repeat a Gujarat genocide in Kerala, They failed to do what they did in Kandhamal or different parts of Karnataka. We have seen the series of communal riots in UP prior to last Loksabha elections and BJP winning huge majority of the seats after that. Kerala is, even with their strongest organizational machinery, still far from being a stage for the Sangh strategy of gaining ground through generating communal tensions. You will understand that this is not an ‘innocent’ development once you study the different attempts made by Sangh organizations to communally polarize the state or disturb the secular fabric in various times in the past. I can write a very long note only on this. RSS in Kerala is not a different species, something different from their counterparts in other parts of the country. They follow the same strategy of aggression. All those efforts were resisted tooth and nail and defeated in Kerala. You can never dismiss the role of the left led by CPIM in successfully blocking the Sangh agenda to be in a driving seat of the social fabric if the state. I hope you agree with me in that social atmosphere and people’s lives in Kerala is not a violent one. If violence is the character of the strongest party which forms government at the state, Kerala would have turned into a war zone long before. But then why when RSS enter the picture there is bloodshed and murders on both the sides? This question must not be answered with a generalized notion of ‘gang war’ in Kannur. This has nothing to do with ‘genetics’, but definitely with politics. For that one must study how RSS infiltrated into the different parts of the country and have a comparison with Kannur. I sincerely wish, our political sciences studies and researchers grow up to that level, instead of putting out uncritical equalizations and practicing selective ‘amnesia’.
In another part you say the ‘CPI(M) and the RSS have done politics in other states. There, if there was any killing, the law intervened’. It sounds as if the people are in a free run to kill each other in Kannur. You should have at least looked into the case diaries, or the number of people arrested in political murders before making such statements.. CPIM is the largest political party in terms of its influence among the masses, number of seats in the assembly and also with a very wide and strong organisational presence throughout Kerala. Kannur is the strongest bastion where 54% voted for the Left in last election. RSS is lacking in both electoral arena and influence in determining the social dynamics. But they do have a very strong organizational machinery. Still, the number of CPIM cadres killed by RSS outnumbers the other one. This can be ended only with a high level decision of RSS to stop the attempt to infiltrate into Kerala with the violent methods.
Do you really think such politics is happening only in Kannur? Or are you in a belief that law is intervening in similar incidents in other states. 15 years is not an enough time for a concerned individual to forget the manner law found its place in Gujarat. Hope you correct such highly irresponsible comments. You must also not think whatever does not comes to your notice or does not shake your conscience is not happening. Around 13 Sangh Parivar activists were killed by other Sangh cadres in Karnataka including one Hindu Jagran Vedika activist getting killed recently in Mangalore. I have the complete list of this heinous crimes committed by Sangh workers against their own colleagues. How long more will it take to shake the ‘collective conscience’ of the nation?
Let me conclude citing another dangerous element in your statement presented as an ‘innocent’ one. You refer to an incident of one school teacher hacked to death in classroom. I have no issue in anybody talking about this barbaric incident. All the political killings, irrespective of parties involved in it, must be condemned. But the people like you must not limit yourselves to depend on the news which was circulated consciously and selectively. Why a student leader, named KV Sudheesh, is hacked to death in front of his parents at his home doesn’t come to your mind when you pick up the examples? ‘A brick would have fit in many of the wounds in his body’ this was the comment of the doctor who did postmortem of his dead body which was cut into pieces by the RSS criminals. It was last year, an 8 year old Fahad was killed by a hindu religious fanatic who was a cadre of RSS in the nearest district. Two of my close friends have lost their fathers in murderous attacks of RSS. You will never refer the name of my friend Dhanaraj who was killed in front of his wife at his home few months ago. The day you wrote the article, one DYFI activist called Muhsin was hacked to death in Alappuzha. In an another shocking development one BJP worker Nirmal was killed by an another BJP worker in Thrissur. BJP called a hartal against CPIM after this murder! It was only few days back, one Sharirik Shikshak Pramukh of RSS, Vishnu, came out openly and said he was threatened to death for speaking out against the murderous plans of his own organization. He was under the custody of RSS and tortured for long 38 days. He was also forced to write a suicide note alleging a CPIM leader, Kannur district secretary to be specific, is behind his death. You can have a talk with him if want to know what is happening inside the Saffron contingents. This list will never end. All I wanted to say is, there must be no space for violence in politics. But, we must not commit a grave mistake by thinking political violence happens only when two parties involved. You must at least go through the history of RSS and read what Golwalkar talks about communists in the ‘Bunch of thoughts’. I’m not done, but I stop here. And I do welcome a detailed debate if you choose to reply. Or let us have an united effort to expose the cellars of the saffron inferno.
Call it a ‘February Recurrence’ or another of the systematically planned attacks on University spaces by the right wing, the events that unfurled on the 21st of February at Ramjas College of Delhi University was yet again a brazen attack on the underlying democratic principles of a University-freedom of speech, debate and dissent. After JNU and HCU it was DU’s turn to witness the curbing of free spaces that are open to multiple voices.
It all began with the Ramjas English Department and the Ramjas literary society organizing a two-day seminar on the topic ‘Cultures of Protest: A Seminar Exploring Representations of Dissent’. Umar Khalid, a PhD scholar from JNU who was earlier labeled as ‘anti-national’ by the right-wing, was invited to deliver a talk on Adivasi rights along with Sanjay Kak and Bimol Akoijam. This led to protests by ABVP, following which the principal of Ramjas withdrew the permission for Khalid’s talk. The organisers of the event decided to continue the discussion without Khalid. What followed then was a shocking display of hooliganism by the ABVP goons who disrupted the event using violent means like stone pelting and breaking of glass panes of the seminar hall. The police force present there to ensure the smooth conduct of events proved to be a sham since they did little to stop the ABVP goons who were attacking the students and teachers, and instead evicted the people present in the seminar hall.
The events that transpired on the second day in the university were a firsthand experience of fascism for many students. The biased state machinery heavily cracked down on the students who were protesting against ABVP hooliganism. The professors, students and media persons were brutally attacked by the ABVP goons who were holding the tricolor on the one hand and were pelting stones, bricks, bottles and eggs with the other. The ABVP-Police nexus was clearly visible in the manner the police dealt with them, where the ABVP goons were practically “allowed” to climb on top of the the police van and threaten the protestors. An emergency-like situation prevailed in the campus that evening with the saffron brigade doing rounds of the university and thrashing people whom they’ve sketched during the protest. Female students who received rape threats both publicly and privately moved to safer places out of fear of being attacked. Isolated incidents of thrashing were reported unofficially. The students were forced to flee from their own PGs and hostels because rumours of the saffron brigade checking hostels and PGs were being circulated. Heavy police force along with CISF was deployed in the university.
A peaceful protest in front of the Delhi Police Head Quarters followed the next day, condemning the Delhi Police’s inaction during the protest and also their refusal to file an FIR against ABVP. The copy of the FIR filed by the police reported the whole incident as a “clash” between two parties, “with the rightists on the right side and leftists on the left side”. The fact that it was an assault on common students and professors by the ABVP goons was overturned by this narrative. From all this, one can be sure about a thing - Universities that open up spaces of debate, dissent and alternative discourse make the fascist state feel insecure and will in turn create extra-judicial situations, with paid media and state machinery for its aid.
The social media has surprisingly taken up this issue very well with twitter and facebook handles like #FightBackDu and #StudentsAgainstABVP going viral. Student community all across the country has extended support to DU and a mass profile picture campaign was also launched. The students shall hopefully struggle against the fascist forces and would reclaim university spaces. DU awaits redemption from hooliganisam and corrupt forces and together we shall move towards a progressive learning environment tha would encourage free thought, debate and dissent.
(Aparna is a B.A Honours student of Miranda House, University of Delhi)