We have reasons to go by Narendra
Modi’s words. If BJP won complete majority on its own, something unthinkable in
the prevailing political scenario of the country, it was basically because of Narendra
Modi. People showed trust in him, in his words, in his promises of development.
It is true the first 20 months of
the BJP government have given us more questions than solving our problems but
still, Narendra Modi is the only political alternative India has when we see
the equations in the national politics.
So when he reacted on Rohith
Vemula’s suicide today, we should accept some serious action would follow now –
after a series of blunders so far – yes, within realms of realpolitik of the
The biggest and unpardonable
blunder is by University of Hyderabad, its administration and its vice-chancellor.
Had they acted like what makes for a real educational institution and credible
academic careers, Rohith Vemula would be among us, pursuing his studies for a
better career and better life for himself, his family and country.
Universities should ideally be
first the places in our societies for healthy, intellectual debates on ideas
and ethos of anything and everything – social sciences, sciences, arts and
aesthetics, culture, religion, traditions, dance, drama, music, and so on and
so forth – and the difference of opinion should be a must – because we cannot
progress, we cannot evolve – unless we question – even if we have to reaffirm
That is not the case here in India
– in the world’s largest democracy. But I know we would be there someday – our robustly
functional democracy would take us there.
But at the moment – it is total chaos.
Our educational system is failing us. Apart from few bright spots, the overall
scenario is gloomy. We are churning out degrees but not capable human beings.
Political interference and political considerations, coupled with deeply rooted
corruption, have vitiated the atmosphere of the seats of higher learning to the
extent that the discrimination that Rohith Vemula faced has become quite
Vice-chancellors, head of
institutions, principals – they behave like they are kings of their fiefdoms –
beyond any scrutiny.
They all, all responsible in
Rohith’s case, should be held accountable and punished – anymore delay would be
Next is the political
interference in student politics.
It is now established beyond
doubt that associated outfits and fringe elements are involved in brining much
dirt to BJP. And in this case also, role of an Akhil Bhartiya Vidyarthi
Parishad, BJP’s student wing, is under scanner. The allegations that have been leveled
against Bandaru Dattatreya and Smriti Irani, senior BJP leaders and union
ministers, in Rohith’s suicide, need clear answers.
It was clearly a case of undue
political interference, as proven by letters of Bandaru Dattatreya on behalf of
BJP and letters of HRD ministry to UoH on Bandaru’s letter that exacerbated the
matter. Then there are controversial statements by Smriti Irani, Bandaru
Dattatreya and other BJP leaders. BJP could have simply accepted the fault and
could have apologized to the nation. That would, in fact, be positive for the
party’s public perception.
Now that Narendra Modi has
reacted so emotionally, should we see some fundamental changes coming? True, a
mother has lost her son and words cannot suffice for the pain her family is
going through. Action must follow. The society would be a much better place
with a Rohith Vemula, engaged in his life, pursuing his studies, unknown to you
and me and each of us who are now thinking so deeply about the incident.
After all, Delhi gangrape on December
16, 2012 was not first horrible crime to happen against women but then, at
times, it takes an incident like this to stir our collective conscience to
demand for fundamental changes.
We cannot quantify what the
massive public outrage on December 16 gangrape did to our society but it did
qualify on parameters like forcing policymakers to act, starting debates in
social circles and more reporting on crimes against women. At least, a beginning
has been made.
Can Rohith Vemula’s forced
suicide do that to us – a beginning to bring fundamental changes in our seats
of higher learning – away from destructive debates like ‘Brahminical’ or ‘anti-Brahminical’
or ‘pro-Dalit’ or ‘anti-Dalit’ or ‘higher Vs lower castes’ to constructive
issues like ‘how to reform the reformative action system’ – like ‘how to keep
student politics away from mainstream politics’ – like ‘the social disparity
prevailing in the society’ – like ‘social inclusion and exclusion based on
economic parameters’ – like ‘poor quality of our teachers’ – like ‘political
appointments polluting the posts of VCs, head of institutions or principals’ –
and so on and so forth?