Shame on Modi sarkar for abusing Rohith Vemula’s death

Why can’t we have a world where people are known for their talent, their minds and not surnames?

The nation celebrated the 67th Republic Day, but I am yet to recover from the trauma of the Rohith Vemula suicide. From Eklavya to the 26-year-old Rohith, the misery continues. If Eklavya had to cut his thumb and offer it as guru dakshina to Dronacharya – who never accepted him as his disciple – Rohith had to give up his life for the casteist bias of the university administration. Even a week after his death, the government is yet to take any visible action against the errant administrators.

Earlier, the students were protesting, but after government mishandled the situation and appointed Prof Srivastava, the main accused in the suicide case of another dalit student Senthil Kumar as the vice-chancellor in-charge, the teachers resigned. Thus, an institutional paralysis has been created at Hyderabad University.

Death of a person should never be politicised, but unfortunately, in this case, the death itself is a consequence of politicisation of our education system. The death was preceded by a string of events. The series of letters from Bandaru Dattatreya, the unusual and forceful thrust of the ministry of human resource development to act on them and finally the biased response of the university vice-chancellor speaks volumes about the politicisation of the university campus by the right-wing extremists.

The reflexive action on the part of the ministry on the letters of Bandaru Dattatreya was shocking.

The sequence of events reflects the apathy and attitude of the BJP government and its leaders towards the Dalits and other backward communities. The HRD ministry is now least bothered about the quality and relevance of education in India. What matters to the ministry the most is to vociferously pursue the RSS agenda of saffronisation of education. Be it FTII, the four-year undergraduate programme in Delhi University or issues related to IIT and JNU, or the issue of how search committees were formed bypassing university rules for the appointment of vice-chancellors in DU and JNU, the HRD ministry is interfering with the autonomy of higher education institutions and trying to micromanage affairs of these institutions.

If the ministry took the same amount of interest in the declining state of our education, the nation would benefit. But the actions of the ministry were rooted in the philosophy of Modi government that dissent in any form is not acceptable. Therefore, you will be crushed for the sake of systemic hegemony.

It is against this backdrop that student activism in campus, which has been an integral feature of 20th century public life in India, is suddenly seen as a threat to their political and cultural agenda. Now, I put the question to the learned readers to answer whether the death of Rohith Vemula raises political questions.

Recently, I read an article titled Crocodile tears for Rohith by Udit Raj, BJP parliamentarian and chairman of the All-India confederation of the SC/ST organisations. The article itself reflects the dilemma and the compulsions of a Dalit intellectual in the present political regime. He has raised certain relevant issues but for his political affiliation, he has consciously avoided to direct those issues to the real actors who are failing the system. His conscience does not allow him to exonerate either the labour minister or the HRD minister, but he appears to be clueless as to where to direct his annoyance and has finally blamed the system.

If he is worried about dilution of the reservation system, as the liberal intellectual is worried, he should have asked his party and the RSS where hey stand so far as reservation for Dalits and the other backward communities is concerned. But I understand the suffocation and limitations of the voice of a Dalit intellectual like Udit Raj within the ideological framework of the BJP.

Nothing but education and employment will empower the Dalits. The state needs to take measures to provide quality education and jobs to the Dalit students and the youth to put an end to their alienation from the rest of the economy and society. Economic growth, social harmony, empowerment of weaker sections and strengthening of democratic institutions are inter-linked. Therefore, policies in this regard need to comprehensive.

Remarkable achievements were made in this direction by the UPA government during its tenure when the share of Dalits attending colleges increased by a staggering 187 per cent and tribals by 164 per cent. In each of its plans and programmes, the endeavour was to empower the SC/ST population to participate in the society and nation-building process as equal stakeholders. MGNREGA and the Forest Rights Act were milestones in the direction of economic empowerment of Dalits, tribals and the marginalised. This government has failed to create jobs for the youth and the only way out for them is to crush demand and dissent.

The implications of the death or the political murder of Rohith Vemula will not be limited to the campus of Hyderabad University. The BJP will definitely face the consequences. Leave or forced leave – the vice-chancellor’s response was misplaced and his resignation along with Dattatreya’s, as well as the HRD minister from the Union cabinet will send out a clear message that our state and government are against identity-based victimisation.

The ministers who interfered in the functioning of an autonomous organisation – which ultimately resulted in the loss of a valuable life – should have realised their mistake and graciously resigned.

If their ego rises above their conscience, the onus lies on the government to take action. I wish the government and the university administration have the wisdom of Rohith, if not anything else. At the same time, society too has its responsibilities. The scholar’s suicide letter has a message both for our political leaders and society. We need to stand up and address the issues raised by him. We should not allow any more Rohith Vemula to take their lives and provide a solid support base to those who feel alienated and carry an extreme sense of anguish.

Why can’t we have a world where people are known for their talent, their minds and not surnames?

Referance Link: http://www.dailyo.in/politics/rohith-vemula-suicide-smriti-irani-hyderabad-university-bjp-appa-rao/story/1/8685.html