Skip to main content

Why this JNU scholar is a 'beacon of hope, a symbol of resistance' in academics

Ravi Shankar Kumar, Abhay Kumar
By Abhay Kumar* 
College and University spaces in India have become a site of sycophancy, servitude, a breeding ground of reactionary ideologies, workplace for sexual harassment and shameless defender of all oppressive systems. Amid all this, my Jawaharlal Nehru University friend Ravi Shankar Kumar is a beacon of hope and a symbol of resistance.
Not many people know that Ravi got an offer to teach political science at a private college in Mohali in the early month of this year. He went there with all enthusiasm and zeal to teach.
I must admit that Ravi is one of the bright and original thinkers, engaging with Marxism. Unlike many of the so-called Marxists for whom Marxism is just a smokescreen to cover their selfishness, caste, class and gender interests, he tries to lead his life in the light of Marxism.
From Ravi and his friends, I came to know about the simple definition of Marxism: Marxism is an idea which aims at abolishing wage relations and commodity formation; it is the state where human beings are no longer forced to work for the profit of a few.
No doubt, Ravi, as a teacher, is an asset to any top university in the world.
When Ravi joined the college and started teaching there, he was quick to feel the exploitative system. He noticed that other than teaching and research, he was asked to do everything. This does not mean that he was not taking a class. He took more classes than the prescribed limit.
The bitter truth is that the university administration was least concerned about the quality of teaching and the well-being of students and teachers. The only concern of the administration was that it could get the maximum number of students which would ensure a large amount of profit in the form of fees. Given this priority, the teachers were asked to give more time to complete administrative work than to focus on reading and teaching.
It has been a matter of concern that non-teaching members have been gradually removed or drastically reduced by educational institutes. As a result, the work which was earlier done by the non-teaching staff has been passed to teachers. From Monday to Saturday and even during summer and winter vacations, teachers are supposed to carry out the never-ending work of data entry.
Against the cycle of exploitation, Ravi raised his voice and resisted, wrote a long complaint letter to the administration
The administration does not understand that to take one hour class, a teacher needs to read several hours and think a lot before. For administration, teachers are not thinking of human beings but soulless machines.
Wait, the cycle of exploitation does not stop here. Since the university has an exploitative system, a large number of teachers who join the college, often run away one day. The administration, instead of going for an introspection and course correction, is in habit of passing the work of the teachers who have left to the existing teachers. Ravi was given further work. The workload keeps mounting.
Against this cycle of exploitation, Ravi raised his voice and resisted. He wrote a long complaint letter to the administration. The administration, instead of looking into his genuine concern, decided to punish him. He was removed from the university WhatsApp group and even his official mail was suspended.
However, this did not deter Ravi. He kept fighting. He forwarded his complaint to the higher authority in Punjab. Let's hope that they take immediate action.
Let me repeat the sentences from which I started writing this post: College and University spaces in India have become a site of exploitation. Amid all this, Ravi is a beacon of resistance.
Sadly, his colleagues, who equally faced exploitation, decided not to break the silence. One may justify their actions by saying that these teachers are in a vulnerable situation and have no alternative. But keeping silent against exploitation is also not a solution. We only realise that chains fetter us when we try to walk.
But history will see Ravi's decision as a fight against exploitation. In my view, his act is simply revolutionary.
Those who do not speak against exploitation die every day. But those who resist may die once. But if the resistance leads to victory, it will free the whole of humanity.
Taking inspiration from Ravi, let's speak against academic exploitation. Let's salute his fight and speak against our own exploitation.
*PhD (Modern History), Centre for Historical Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi



'Modi govt's assault on dissent': Foreign funds of top finance NGO blocked

By Rajiv Shah  In a surprise move, the Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India, has cancelled the foreign funding license of the well-known advocacy group, Centre for Financial Accountability (CFA), known for critically examining India's finance and banking sectors from human rights and environmental angle.

Misleading ads 'manipulate, seduce, lure' to market unhealthy harmful food

By Our Representative  The Nutrition Advocacy in Public Interest (NAPI) in its new report “50 Shades of Food Advertising” has sought to expose how seductive, luring, manipulative or deceptive these advertisements can be. Consequences of such advertising are increased intake of unhealthy food products that is associated with obesity and diabetes, it says. 

A Hindu alternative to Valentine's Day? 'Shiv-Parvati was first love marriage in Universe'

By Rajiv Shah*   The other day, I was searching on Google a quote on Maha Shivratri which I wanted to send to someone, a confirmed Shiv Bhakt, quite close to me -- with an underlying message to act positively instead of being negative. On top of the search, I chanced upon an article in, imagine!, a Nashik Corporation site which offered me something very unusual. 

Swami Vivekananda's views on caste and sexuality were 'painfully' regressive

By Bhaskar Sur* Swami Vivekananda now belongs more to the modern Hindu mythology than reality. It makes a daunting job to discover the real human being who knew unemployment, humiliation of losing a teaching job for 'incompetence', longed in vain for the bliss of a happy conjugal life only to suffer the consequent frustration.

Why's Govt of India reluctant to consider battery storage system for renewal energy?

By Shankar Sharma*  If having so many small size battery energy storage system (BESS) at different locations of the grid, as in the report from Australia (a portfolio of 27 small battery storage projects across three Australian states that will total arounds 270 MWh), is considered to be techno-economically attractive in a commercially driven market such as Australia, the question that becomes a lot more relevance to Indian scenario is: why are our planners not in favour of installing such small size BESS at most of the distribution sub-stations not only to accelerate the addition of RE power capacities, but also to minimise the need for large size solar/ wind power parks, dedicated transmission lines and pumped storage plants; which will also minimise the associated technical losses.

'Failure of governance': India, China account for 54% pollution-related deaths globally

By Vikas Parsaram Meshram*   A recent report jointly prepared by UNICEF and the independent research organization Health Effects Institute has been released, and the statistics within it are alarming. It states that in 2021, air pollution caused the deaths of 2.1 million Indians, including 169,000 children who hadn't yet fully experienced life. These figures are indeed distressing and raise questions about why there hasn't been more serious effort in this direction, putting policymakers to shame. 

New MVA-INDIA MPs asked to raise Maharashtra milk farmers' demand

By Our Representative  All-India Kisan Sabha (AIKS) national president Dr Ashok Dhawale and AIKS Maharashtra general secretary Dr Ajit Nawale have asked three newly-elected MPs of the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA-INDIA) from the milk belt of Maharashtra Dr Amol Kolhe (NCP),  Bhausaheb Wakchaure (SS), and Nilesh Lanke (NCP), to take up the cause of milk farmers of Maharashtra in Parliament.  After congratulating them on their resounding victory over their BJP-NDA rivals, the AIKS leaders apprised them of the milk farmers struggle which is intensifying in the state under the leadership of the AIKS and the Milk Farmers Joint Struggle Committee, and requested them to support it. All three MPs agreed not only to support, but also to take the initiative in this struggle, an official AIKS communique claimed. Farmers in Maharashtra are currently getting as low as Rs 24-27 per litre for cow milk, which is being sold in the market for Rs 56-60 per litre, the AIKS leaders noted. The low price to farmer