Friday, May 29, 2015

Sanskrit imposition meant to spread Brahminical order: Decognized anti-Modi Ambedkar-Pariyar group hits back

By Our Representative
The Indian Institute of Technology-Madras (IITM) authorities’ decision to “derecognize” the Ambedkar Periyar Student Circle (APSC) following an inquiry into APSC’s “controversial” views by the Union ministry of human resource development (MHRD) has led to a strong reaction from those running the APSC. In their reply, APSC office bearers have wondered whether expressing a different view from the one held by Modi government could be construed as an attempt to spread of hatred.
Sent to the IITM authorities, the APSC reply said, “We do not understand how dissent and criticism of the government’s policy is akin to ‘spreading hatred’. If any person professing an anti-establishment view is accused of engaging in ‘controversial’ activities and all dissent is stifled, wouldn’t that be a violation of our constitutionally guaranteed rights to freely express ourselves?”
The APSC was debarred from continuing with its study circle by the Dean of Students of IITM on May 22, allegedly because it was “misusing” the privileges given to it as an independent student body. The decision to recognize the ASPC was reportedly taken unilaterally without giving any change to the student body to represent itself. 
One of the reasons for derecognizing APSC was, it discussed "language politics" and criticized government for giving "primacy" to Sanskrit and Hindi. The APSC hit back, “As rationalists, we feel that though Sanskrit has a valued place as part of culture and history of certain sections of our society, it is also an instrument of spreading a Brahminical, dominant narrative.”
It insisted, “Imposition of Sanskrit in school has less to do with teaching a language and more to do with the ideology behind teaching the language. We stand by our opinions and wish to assert our rights to profess our opinions freely.”
Replying to other objections raised in the anonymous complaint which became the basis for the MHRD "inquiry",  the APSC said, “Our activities are engaged with the healthy discussion on socio-economic issues on scientific basis to promote the scientific temper among the student which is allowed by the Indian Constitution”, asking why a similar yardstick is not applied on right-wing students' organizations.
Pointing out that the IITM authorities’ views suggest that only opinions put forth by a right-wing group would be allowed to continue their activities, the reply said, the Dean of Students had earlier warned the APSC to change the name from Ambedkar-Periyar, since it was “polarizing the students”. This, it indicated, suggested the Dean’s anti-Dalit point of view. While BR Ambedkar is the national symbol of Dalit rights, Periyar was the founder of the Dravid movement.
Quoting from the MHRD letter dated May 21, 2015, the reply said, one of the allegations in the anonymous complaint was that the study centre was spreading hatred against the Modi government. To substantiate, a copy of an APSC pamphlet on Ambedkar Jayanti was enclosed.
“IITM itself have had many meetings that discussed the policies and legislation of the current and previous elected governments”, the APSC said, wondering what steps were taken by the IITM authorities against those who fought on streets against the government’s reservation policy in the past.
The APSC said, another accusation is that it has been “spreading hatred” between scheduled caste/scheduled tribes (SC/ST) and Hindus. “We are surprised”, it stated, asking, “Are SC/ST not part of the so-called Hindus? How MHRD and IITM ares perceiving such a venomous anonymous mail with full of hatred towards the SC/ST and Ambedkar?"
It wonders, "Are we the ones who polarize the students or they are the ones who think IITM is their own base to propagate against the interest of SC/ST and other backward classes?”

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