Some­thing is rot­ten at the heart of BHU

The univer­sity has be­come a re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion cen­tre for in­com­pe­tent and lumpenised le­ga­tees of dons

Governance Now - - BRIEFINGS - ajay@gov­er­nan­ A ver­sion of this ar­ti­cle first ap­peared on First­ Ajay Singh

There used to be some­thing eclec­tic about the Ba­naras Hindu Univer­sity (BHU). As one crossed the gates, there came in view the sprawl­ing cam­pus, rep­re­sent­ing a mi­cro­cosm of the en­tire uni­verse of ed­u­ca­tion. driv­ing from the Sir Sun­der­lal hos­pi­tal to the iit and dairy farms at the end of the cam­pus, one would sim­ply marvel at the ge­nius of the man who founded it – Pan­dit madan mo­han malviya.

But the re­cent al­leged sex­ual ha­rass­ment fol­lowed by girl stu­dents’ protests, sub­se­quent use of force against them and its brazen jus­ti­fi­ca­tion by vice chan­cel­lor Girish Chan­dra Tri­pathi con­firm the fear that there is some­thing deeply rot­ten in the BHU. it has been rot­ting there for decades and has now ex­posed it­self in the most vir­u­lent form.

There is noth­ing new in girl stu­dents tak­ing a po­lit­i­cal po­si­tion on the cam­pus. The univer­sity has a legacy of il­lus­tri­ous girl stu­dent lead­ers on its record. But the cam­pus was al­ways a safe place for in­ter­ac­tion of stu­dents. aca­demic dons liv­ing a Spar­tan life on the cam­pus were role mod­els for stu­dents and in­spired in­stant awe and re­spect for their pro­found knowl­edge. But some­thing went hor­ri­bly wrong in the eight­ies.

Today the univer­sity has been re­duced to a re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion cen­tre for “in­com­pe­tent and of­ten lumpenised” le­ga­tees of aca­demic dons. One does not need to go far to find this out. You take out the records of those re­cruited in the fac­ulty and staff, and you will find that most of them are ei­ther rel­a­tives or scions of the peo­ple who oc­cu­pied pres­ti­gious po­si­tions in the univer­sity. For in­stance, one im­por­tant mem­ber of the proc­to­rial board has got “ad­justed” his four scions as univer­sity fac­ulty. and mind you, he is not an ex­cep­tion. in any fac­ulty ex­cept at the iit and the med­i­cal col­lege, the story is the same.

How do these “in­com­pe­tent scions” get in? if an agency scru­ti­nised the aca­demic records of these fac­ulty mem­bers, it will be found that most of them had fared badly in high school and in­ter­me­di­ate ex­ams. once they get into the univer­sity, their scale of per­for­mance takes a quan­tum jump and they be­come top­pers. Such sto­ries abound on the cam­pus.

Hence, it hardly comes as a sur­prise when the fac­ulty is di­vided on caste lines. a Brah­min Vc would face the wrath of Ra­jput staff or a Ra­jput VC would get no co­op­er­a­tion from Brah­min and Bhu­mi­har fac­ulty. obcs and sched­uled castes lobby within stu­dents and fac­ulty would be no less in­fe­rior in flex­ing its muscle to sub­vert the ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem. Per­haps every­one seems will­ingly or un­will­ingly com­plicit in harm­ing the Bhu’s pres­tige. in the lat­est episode, a sec­tion of teach­ers, in­stead of be­com­ing fire­fight­ers, stoked the flames on the ba­sis of their prej­u­dices. And the vice chan­cel­lor, who re­gards him­self as the “cho­sen one” be­cause of his prox­im­ity to RSS joint gen­eral sec­re­tary Kr­ishna Gopal, han­dled the whole is­sue in the most cav­a­lier man­ner. in­sid­ers ad­mit that given the out­siders’ ac­cess to the cam­pus, there were re­ports of eve-teas­ing hap­pen­ing all across the premises in the re­cent past. Girl stu­dents did com­plain, but the com­plaints were treated most shab­bily by the proc­to­rial board and the VC’S of­fice. The in­ci­dent that trig­gered the protests hap­pened barely 50 yards away from the Vc’s lodge. it mer­ited a strong in­ter­ven­tion and the girls needed to be as­sured that such in­stances would not hap­pen in fu­ture. The univer­sity’s ad­min­is­tra­tion in­stead blamed girls for let­ting such mo­lesta­tions hap­pen.

What is par­tic­u­larly sig­nif­i­cant is the re­sponse of the univer­sity’s ad­min­is­tra­tion to girls’ com­plaints. it once again ex­poses the mind­set of those run­ning the in­sti­tu­tion. in their view, girls re­turn­ing to the hos­tel as late as af­ter 7 pm are to be blamed for ex­pos­ing them­selves to molestation. in­ter­est­ingly, none of them is ashamed of hold­ing such a re­gres­sive view. This is the pre­cise rea­son why the VC avoided go­ing to the women’s col­lege (WC) which is lo­cated quite close to his res­i­dence. of course, a visit to the Wc would ex­pose to him a litany of charges about the poor qual­ity of man­age­ment in the girls’ hos­tels. and the Vc, be­ing the chief pro­tec­torate of this “re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion cen­tre of in­com­pe­tence”, would not let this hap­pen.

Be­ing an ex-stu­dent of the BHU, i am quite dis­mayed at rapid de­te­ri­o­ra­tion in the aca­demics and gov­er­nance of the in­sti­tu­tion. This is not the first time that the univer­sity has wit­nessed vi­o­lent protests or hooli­gan­ism. in the early eight­ies, it was closed sine die many a time be­cause crim­i­nals were in­fil­trat­ing stu­dents’ protests. But they were weeded out to re­store a sem­blance of or­der. The soul of the BHU re­mained in­tact. How­ever, the re­cent episode is in­dica­tive of a mor­bid at­ro­phy that has af­flicted the BHU’S soul.

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