Denying space to SCs, STs, OBCs in the name of merit: Game behind "eminence" tag to Ambani institute

By Vidya Bhushan Rawat*

With Ambanis getting favour from the government, it is important for our academic fraternity to go into its details. The Government of India has opened several fronts against people, particularly the marginalized sections. Closing Universities Grants Commission (UGC) is one such step, but even before its closure, the UGC gave the 'Institute of Eminence' status to Ambani’s Jio institute, saying, here 'merit and merit alone will be the criterion'.
In India merit is brahmanical in nature, and in a certain way it seeks to deny space to SCs-STs-OBCs in institutions. The whole effort is to keep institutions to have their own 'autonomy', and outside the domain of UGC. They can negotiate with foreign institutions, and collaborate with them. The aim is to bring them to 'international' standard.
The fact is that the agenda is to target all institutions. When people were campaigning for equal education for all, we had a government, which wants to create this difference in the name of 'excellence' and 'merit'.
Indeed, one can understand why Prime Minister Narendra Modi still enjoys the support of the upper echelon of savarna jaatis; because through these 'institutions of eminence' it can keep the status quo ante, with the state abdicating its duties towards people. The aim is to undermine the education system as it exists, and bring in Dronacharyas into these institutions of 'merit'. What is unfortunate is, political parties feel, their duties end after sending tweets criticizing #bhakts of all varieties, responding as per their leaders.
The day we start responding as per issues and not as per our leaders, things would begin to change. The day we start going beyond individuals and seek wider consultations, listen to critics, things would be different. The day intellectuals, academics and those in public life speak without being 'bhakts', things would change.
This is the biggest war that the brahmanical system has now imposed on the bahujan masses. With the help of crony capitalists, they want to deny opportunities to India's indigenous people. They wouldn’t like to do things openly, or challenge the Constitution. They would like to do it in a surreptitious way, which means, they would kill institutions and universities, which are government-aided and provide huge opportunity to India's historically denied people.
All the political parties should swear in the name of social justice, Baba Saheb Ambedkar, Ram Manohar Lohia, Periyar and others, that there is a direct assault on people's right to education. There is a need to highlight that earlier promises haven’t been fulfilled; and rather than making things better, what is now being created is a mess, so that people can’t make it to these institutions.
The move needs a strong political response. All members of Parliament of SC-ST-OBC-minority background must seek explanation from the government on this. Things are unlike to improve through court cases, as we know who is using courts. There is a need to resolve matters politically.
Baba Saheb Ambedkar wanted education for all. He wanted quality education. How many universities does this government offer a budget of Rs 1,000 crore, so that they become 'institutions of eminence'? Why should this kind of budget not be made available for our primary and secondary education with efficient teachers and better schooling facilities? Why can't the government improve the existing infrastructure in universities and colleges, and make them better and accountable, if it feels they are not functioning well?
Privatisation of education is a highly irresponsible act of the government. It is not that all these institutions will run on private money. Ambanis know it well, that is why they need a friendly government to support them establish infrastructure, and also give with grants. These institutions will have freedom to deny students admission in the name of merit. Only those would be able to go there who have a certain amount of budget in their pocket.
Seventy years after Independence, we are witnessing the re-emergence of Dronacharyas in institutions with the active help of the state to deny the bahujan masses quality education. The pressure on academic education of bahujan communities is indeed high. It is well known how a senior teacher at the Baba Saheb Ambedkar University in Lucknow, belonging to the Dalit community, was brutally beaten by brahmin students.
Chaos has been created everywhere in universities, with engaged in fighting this or that battle. Meanwhile, quickly, the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) comes out with its 'idea' of creating 'institutions of eminence' as if it is a kind of Pakoda that you can buy any time anywhere, or get things done with money.
Will Mayawati, Rahul Gandhi, Askhilesh Yadav and other political leaders raise this issue in Parliament? We know that Ambanis give donations to all political parties. They need to be responsible to people. It is time for all parties to make their stand clear. They must fight this battle, as future generations will never forgive them for not speaking up for their rights.
*Source: The author’s Facebook timeline


Niranjan Dave said…
Reservation for SC, ST, OBC , fees and admissions are part of regulatory norms. If an institute is to be established free from regulatory framework, having state of the art facilities , scholarly faculty, research oriented offerings, meritorious students, research and quality of education comparable and competitive with best of the institutions abroad, huge investment and sustainable privatisation are inevitable.
Greenfield category is a misnomer. In fact it is a category by itself ( Expecting possible misunderstanding among critics and academicians MHRD should have elaborated this yesterday.) wherein there is nothing on ground but land, required funding, time-frame of development, well defined long term project and strong support of prominent Corporate house, and track record of supporting institutionalised primary and secondary education. JiO will get tag of IoE after three years and does not need Rs 1000 Crores from MHRD. Estimated cost of the project is Rs 9500 Crores.
It is the need of the day. Let us not miss the bus.
Uma Sheth said…
Apart from the money what is so great about this institution?