Skip to main content

Facebook reaction to question on impact of 'privatization and saffronization’ on higher education is politically motivated

AIFRTE statement condemning the abusive and threatening public reference on Facebook by ABVP student against Prof K Laxminarayana, University of Hyderabad, and partisan and criminal inaction of the University authorities:
The All India Forum for Right to Education (AIFRTE) strongly condemns the abusive and threatening public reference on Facebook to senior Prof. K. Laxminarayana of the School of Economics, University of Hyderabad by a student, Kaluram Palsaniya alias Karan Palsaniya belonging to the ABVP, at the Department of History of the same university. Claiming to be a critique of an examination paper set by Prof. Laxminarayana for the elective option Economics of Education, the intemperate response of the ABVP student in fact targets a specific question on the impact of 'privatization and saffronization’ on higher education.
However, there is more to the highly politically motivated reaction of this student. Prof. Laxminarayana had published a critical analysis of the Justice Roopanwal Commision set up by MHRD to enquire into the circumstances leading to the 'suicide’ of Dalit Ph.D scholar Rohith Vemula [Why Justice Roopanwal’s Report is a Travesty? Economic & Political Weekly, vol. 52, issue no. 46, 18th November 2017]. Vemula’s `suicide’ had set off a nation-wide protest and resistance against what was widely perceived as an institutional failure to prevent social discrimination against Dalit research scholars, to address their genuine academic grievances and to prevent rank insensitivity and negligence such as not releasing scholarships for months on end to scholars from very deprived sections of society. In fact, the Supreme Court had asked universities to immediately enquire into the causes of the high number of suicides of students from these sections.
Prof Laxminarayana’s article clearly showed the role of Susheel Kumar, (an ABVP student who posted abusive social media messages branding Ambedkar Students Association (ASA) members as 'anti-nationals’ and 'goons’ while accusing them of assaulting him), of Bhartiya Janta Party (BJP) MLC Ramachandra Rao, and Central Ministers Smriti Irani and Dattareya in pressurizing the Vice- Chancellor and University authorities to reverse the original findings of the proctorial board and instead expel six Dalit scholars from the hostel. This expulsion was widely seen as a form of 'social exclusion’ routinely experienced by Dalits in villages. Consequently the expelled students referred to the open area they occupied as velivada, the traditional name for the excluded zone earmarked for Dalits.
The Justice Roopanwal Commision, as Prof. Laxminarayana’s article forcefully argues, was “appointed by the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) . . . when Rohith’s aggrieved friends lodged a case under the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act which was pending against the then HRD Minister, Smriti Irani, BJP minister Bandaru Dattareya and other prominent BJP functionaries and the Vice-Chancellor Appa Rao Podile. Second, the Commission had no Dalit member in spite of it being mandatory to look into the facts surrounding the death of a Dalit scholar...”
It looked at no fresh or countervailing evidence, ignored the original proctorial report which recommended moderate disciplinary action against both sides, as also the medical reports that gave no evidence of ABVP’s Susheel Kumar either having been assaulted or injured as he claimed. The Commission’s Report merely repeated the conclusions arrived at by inquiries of subsequent committees which had been instigated by intense pressure from BJP leaders and ministers.
Further, the Report, as Prof. Laxminarayan’s article points out, far exceeded its mandate in taking up an issue that could only be examined by the revenue department and not in civil court, i.e. the caste status of Rohith Vemula. In concluding that Rohith was a non-Dalit, the Roopanwal Commission’s Report was therefore both “illegal and unethical”. From the age of three years, Rohith was raised along with his siblings by his Dalit mother on her meager earnings as a domestic help, as her OBC husband had deserted her because of her caste status.
However, the Report `saved’ the BJP ministers and members, and the University’s V.C. and other officials from prosecution under the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act.
Against this background, the abusive Facebook entry acquires a menacing aspect. We have seen how the Sangh Parivar’s Hindutva groups, of which ABVP is a prominent presence within the institutions of higher education, have politically, ideologically and even physically targeted intellectuals and scholars who hold different views which are secular, constitutional and democratic. In an earlier case of use of abusive language on a poster of Dr. Ambedkar, the enquiry committee had felt it necessary to suspend a student for one-and-a-half years as this use of uncivilized language by the ABVP is sought to be made a regular form of assault and public humiliation against any persons who oppose their ideology and misconduct on the campus.
As a faculty member, as a member of the University’s Executive Council and as former President of the Hyderabad University’s Teachers Association, Prof. Laxminarayana’s contribution to the development of the University is well-established. As such, we are shocked that the University has failed to respond to or take any action on his complaint which was submitted to the University’s Vice-Chancellor and Chief Proctor on 30th November 2017.
As an active member of the Save Education Committee of united Andhra Pradesh and as the current Organizing Secretary of the Save Education Committee of Telangana, and as member of the National Executive of the AIFRTE, Prof. Laxminarayana is also a leading figure in the all-India education movement. Scholars like Prof. Laxminarayana, who promote and advance democratic struggles for social justice, have been viciously targeted by the Hindutva forces. As such we take this intellectual and personal threat to Prof. Laxminarayana with all the seriousness that it deserves.
AIFRTE demands that
  • Kaluram Palsaniya alias Karan Palsaniya, Ph.D student of the Department of History, University of Hyderabad, be suspended immediately for abusing, seeking to defame and humiliate a senior Professor of the University of Hyderabad;
  • Authorities should conduct an enquiry as per University policy and rules to decide the quantum of punishment that Kaluram Palsaniya alias Karan Palsaniya should receive;
  • University should explain why no action was taken against Kaluram Palsaniya alias Karan Palsaniya following the offence and even after receiving the representation of Prof. K. Laxminarayana on 30th November 2017; 
  • Criminal proceedings should be initiated against Kaluram Palsaniya alias Karan Palsaniya for seeking to promote ill-will, enmity and hatred towards Prof. Laxminarayana with a view to threatening his life and liberty.
---
Signatories:
Dr Meher Engineer, Chairperson, AIFRTE; Ex-President, Indian Academy of Social Science; Kolkata,
Prof. Wasi Ahmed, Bihar, Former Joint Secretary, AIFUCTO; Patna
Sri Prabhakar Arade, Maharashtra, President, AIFETO; Kolhapur
Prof. G. Haragopal, Telangana, Visiting Professor, NLSIU, Bengaluru
Prof. Madhu Prasad, Delhi, Formerly Dept. of Philosophy, Zakir Husain College, Delhi University
Prof. K. Chakradhar Rao, Telangana, Dept. of Economics, Osmania University, Hyderabad
Prof. Anil Sadgopal, Madhya Pradesh, Former Dean, Faculty of Education, Delhi University; Bhopal
Prof. K. M. Shrimali, Delhi, Formerly Dept. of History, Delhi University
Dr. Anand Teltumbde, Goa, Senior Professor, Goa Institute of Management

Comments

TRENDING

World Bank clarifies: Its 26th rank to India not for universal access to power but for ease of doing business

By Our Representative
In a major embarrassment to the Government of India, the World Bank has reportedly clarified that it has not ranked India 26th out of 130 countries for providing power to its population. The top international banker’s clarification comes following Union Power Minister Piyush Goyal’s claim that India has “improved to 26 position from 99” in access to electricity in just one year.

Mental health: India's 95% patients "deprived" of medical care, treatment gap 70%

By Moin Qazi*
Among the many challenges India faces, the most underappreciated is the ongoing mental health crisis. Mental illness is actually India’s ticking bomb. An estimated 56 million Indians suffer from depression, and 38 million from anxiety disorders. For those who suffer from mental illness, life can seem like a terrible prison from which there is no hope of escape; they are left forlorn and abandoned, stigmatized, shunned and misunderstood.

Modi model? "Refusal" to build Narmada's micro canals, keep Kutch dry; help industry

By Medha Patkar*
This is the latest photograph of the Kutch Branch Canal (KBC) of the Sardar Sarovar, as of April 8! What does it show, expose, and what memories do you recall? Is it dry or dead? Is it a canal or a carcass of the same?

Bill Gates "promoting" GMO, Bt cotton, like cartels that have roots in Hitler's Germany

By Our Representative
World-renowned environmental leader and ecologist Dr Vandana Shiva has expressed concern that Bill Gates, founder of Microsoft Corporation, has joined the bandwagon of “a poison cartel of three" – Monsanto and Bayer, Syngenta and ChemChina, Dow and DuPont – all of whom allegedly have “roots in Hitler’s Germany and finding chemicals to kill people”.

Indian talc products contain "contaminated" asbestos structures, can cause cancer: Study

Counterview Desk
A recent study, using polarizing light microscopy, transmission electron microscopy (TEM), electron diffraction, and X-ray analysis on multiple over-the-counter Indian talc products for the presence of asbestos, has concluded that large quantities of body talc products are likely to pose a public health risk for asbestos-related diseases, especially for the cancers related to asbestos exposure.

Why are you silent on discrimination against Dalit jawans? Macwan questions Modi

By Rajiv Shah
Close on the heels of releasing his book in Gujarati, "Bhed Bharat", which lists 319 cases of atrocities against Dalits and Adivasis across the country over the last five years, well-known Gujarat Dalit rights leader Martin Macwan has shot an open letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, telling him the reasons why he does not want vote for the BJP.

Emergence of a rare Dalit teacher in IIT-Kanpur "disturbed" certain faculty members

By PS Krishnan, IAS (Retd)*
Dr Subrahmanyam Sadrela, a faculty member in the Department of Aerospace Engineering, Indian Institute of Technology (IIT)-Kanpur since January 1, 2018, and one of the rare Dalit members of the faculty in IIT group of institutions, is facing the threat of revocation of his PhD thesis, and thereby also jeopardizing his job and career.

Investigation shows Narmada downstream "seriously" polluted. Reason: apathy, greed

By Rohit Prajapati, Krishnakant, Swati Desai*
Our investigation regarding quality of water flowing in the Narmada river downstream of the Sardar Sarovar Dam (SSD), dated April 6, 2019, between 11.00 a.m. to 4.00 p.m. reiterates, what is commonly known now, that the Sardar Sarovar Project (SSP) is planned without considering its impact on the downstream Narmada River stretch of 161 kilometres, its ecology, biodiversity and fishery, and lakhs of people living close to and dependent on the river directly or indirectly. This, in turn, has led to its present disastrous state.

RTE in remote areas? Govt of India "plans" to close down 2.4 lakh schools

By Srijita Majumder*
The Right to Education (RTE) Act, 2009, came into effect on April 1, 2010, for the first time made it obligatory on the part of the State to provide free and compulsory education to all children from 6-14 years of age in India. The Act, despite its limitations, had progressive elements like neighbourhood schools, community participation, ban on corporal punishment, no detention, continuous and comprehensive evaluation and it hence it appeared that India was not far from achieving universal elementary education.

Election Commission suffering from worst-ever "credibility crisis": Ex-bureaucrats

Counterview Desk
In an open letter to President Ram Nath Kovind, a group of ex-bureaucrats have lamented ‘weak-kneed’ responses of the Election Commission of India (ECI) in the run up to the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. Citing various violations of the model code of conduct, and pointing towards how ECI has taken little action, the letter asks the President to tell ECI to “conduct itself in a manner where its independence, fairness, impartiality and efficiency are not questioned.”