So I started 2016 on a high note. I co-authored a chapter with my guide that is going to be published by Routledge (south east Asia). I also have a paper at the IAMCR. My third at the prestigious conference, yay! I also have to start my data collection sometime soon. All the reasons why I haven’t been able to post here. And then, everything turned upside down, why you ask?
On this side of the things, we have had a series of undemocratic interventions by the state into our university affairs. Although it is true that some students shouldn’t have vandalised, there is truth on all the sides of the groups which are openly hostile towards one another, those that do not want to take sides, (mind you, no one is apolitical, only those that don’t want to get caught up in something), have had to fight off labels such as anti national or hindutva-Vadi, or Brahmanvadi.
I do not understand labelling. You can be unbiased, it is possible. All you have to do is be open to the various competing narratives floating around, really listen to the voices from all sides and then choose to partly side with either group. Like I said, there is truth on all the sides, so I could be with students because they really do have a point, they are not protesting for no reason. But then, what was a peaceful protest turned a little violent, and the other group saw this as an opportunity to impose all kinds of rules that make the university more of a prison and less of a campus.
At the heels of such antoginism, comes the EFLU 2016 prospectus announcement that says that the university has the right to reject an application if the student is found to have participated in any sort of student movements that include vandalism, dharnas, staging of protests etc.. Now, those that were imprisoned simply because they were there, or those that were there but did not vandalise, have to face consequences that were not of their own making or beyond their making. And how exactly will the university know of such participation? Are they going to monitor Facebook, Twitter, and other social media posts as well as looking at police records?
There are ways to confront issues such as caste discrimination by making the system more transparent. The recent HPS, Begumpet controversy over (intentional) failing of students (belonging to non-dominant castes– loathe the ‘upper and lower caste’ usage)) only goes on to show how ingrained systemic oppression is. We all partake of privilege and benefit from the system, the only people who can suggest changes to such a system are those who experience it (people from non dominant caste). Once decided on how to change, it is the burden of every individual from both the dominant and non dominant castes to make sure they work.
Reservation is still a controversial topic in the country. Why not let the discourse be led by those who are the supposed beneficiaries (are there any benefits, seeing as how students still face discrimination.) of it? What is the problem with them leading the discussion? Lived experiences are different from imagining their experiences and taking decisions for them as though they have no voice or agency. I know for a fact that there are brilliant voices amongst the youth (especially at my university) who can lead such a discussion.
One thing is true though. There is hate on both the sides, you cannot build movements on hate, they tend to be weak. Dominant and non dominant castes need their politics to be free from hatred for any sort of a truce. Not that this a war.
But one important question, is the State so weak that it will break if someone does not say ‘Bharath Matha ki Jai’? Anti-national slogans are unacceptable but why is something like ‘Pakistan Zindabad’ a problem? How can wishing well for Pakistan mean barbadi of India? Why should wishing the welfare of a neighbouring state be made into a controversy? Isn’t India referred to as ‘Big Brother’ by countries belonging to the SAARC region?
Let’s all remember, nothing justifies hatred towards another country, any country. A country is not it’s state apparatuses. It is it’s people and so far, Pakistanis have shown amazing resilience in the face of terror just like Indians. International peace can be achieved when we stop playing petty politics. The development of third world countries is dependent on peaceful and friendly bi-lateral relations amongst countries of the region.