An academic uprising is brewing

The formation of a joint front by teachers, students and parents at the national level is a push back against the pursuit of partisan and overtly political policies in the education sector by the Modi government. Some 10 organisations representing university teachers, students and parents across the country have decided to expose the government’s failure to address the real problems that dog the education sector and resist the government’s attempts to unduly interference in the activities of institutions and to control the sector. A national convention with the motto “Save Campus, Save Education, Save Nation” was held in Delhi this week and it has presented a charter of demands “to steer a larger struggle for a secular, democratic, scientific and inclusive, public-funded education system in the country.” It has decided to fight the government’s attack on institutions and enforcement of draconian rules and regulations on universities and plans to impose the RSS agenda in the education sector. 

BJP governments have always considered education and culture as important areas for projection and promotion of the Sangh Parivar ideology. School curricula have been changed and revised in accordance with the Hindutva view of history and the world in states where the party is in power. This has led to inculcation of misinformation and distorted notions of history, society and nationhood into the minds of students. Institutions of higher education have come under pressure in various ways. There have been efforts to influence the functioning of universities through change of vice-chancellors, faculty and other personnel. Courses and syllabi have been changed and subjects like astrology have been introduced for study. Some authors and books who are critical of the Hindutva ideology have been banned. The works of some noted historians have fallen out of favour in some universities. Delhi University has proposed to ban the books of noted Dalit activist and writer Kancha Ilaiah because they are “too radical’’ and dangerous to Hinduism.

The government has even decreed that the faculty of central universities will be governed by the rules of central civil services, meaning that they cannot protest, criticise the policies of the government or even edit a professional journal outside the university. This is an attack on the freedom of academic studies and research, which is vital for excellence. The University Grants Commission (UGC) and other important institutions and bodies in education and culture have been brought firmly under the government’s control. There have also been attempts to control technical institutions like the IITs. Teachers, students and parents are most affected by such assaults on the system and that is why they are fighting back.

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An academic uprising is brewing

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