Religious Contestations in India Universities

Religious Contestations in India Universities

Students' Against Diwali Celebrations

Students’ of the English and Foreign Languages University (EFLU, Hyderabad) agitation against Diwali Celebration by the Upper Caste Hindus.

 

At present, a few Universities of India are under Religious contestations, with regard to the celebration of Diwali and Dasara/Dusara by the Upper Caste Hindus and teaching of A K Ramanujam’s write-up on ‘three hundred versions of Ramayana’.

At Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU – New Delhi), Osmania University (OU – Hyderabad) and the English and Foreign Languages University (EFLU – Hyderabad), Dalit – Bahujan Students’ denounced the celebration of Dasara and Diwali in India, by high-lighting the historical research projections of the Dalit-Bahujan icons like Mahatma Jyotirao Phule and Dr B R Ambedkar, etc, against to such celebrations / the facts behind such celebrations. Of course, this kind of objection to the Hindu icons, traditions, etc has been continuing for the past few years and this is not the first time. But, due to the proliferation of media, in various modes, the news came out forcefully and the intensity is spread out.

And, the other incident, which is hitting the National media, much more forcefully than the above incident, is the objection to the teaching of A K Ramanujam’s writing on ‘three hundred variants of Ramayana’, by the Department of History, Delhi University for its Under Graduate Students’. From 2006 onwards this issue is raking in various forms, including at the level of the Supreme Court of India. Supreme Court of India appointed a Committee to verify and recommend on the necessity of continuing this lesson as part of academic curriculum/syllabus of B.A. History students’. The out-come of the Committee is positive to continue the lesson. But, the Academic Council of the Delhi University decided to exclude this lesson owing to controversy raked in the public and as ‘sentiments of the Hindus are hurt’.

Between these two incidents, the second one got much media coverage than the former. But, the second incident is much covered by the Telugu electronic media, like TV 9, I News, etc, by even conducting TV interviews/debates.

The presence and organising skills and abilities of the Dalit-Bahujan Students’ in educational institutions have been increasing over the past few years, due to various reasons. And, they are challenging the spaces dominated by the upper castes ideologies, including religious notions.

 

This poster is rleased by the Bahujan Students’ Federation (BSF), Hyderabad against to the Celebration of Diwali by the Upper Caste Hindu. This poster is glorifying the Narakashoora, in contrast to the Upper Castes Denunciation.

 

Hindu Religion, as we all know is heterogeneous in nature, but has been attempting to project as homogenous, by even attempting to merge SC/ST independent identities. Now, the Dalit – Bahujan Students’ in Higher Education are attempting to break this hegemony. How Dalit – Bahujan (Students’) would be able to carry forward this effective challenge of breaking religious hegemony of the upper caste and make realise the upper castes, the Brahmanic misfortunes is yet to visualised over the years to come.

And, coming to Delhi University Academic Council’s decision to exclude the ‘three hundred variants of Ramayana’; how long the Indian upper caste and Brahmanic sects would be able to protect the ‘sentiments’ of Upper castes is also awaited. But, certainly confrontation between the two sects is like to engulf much over the years to come.

Further Readings:

http://www.thehindu.com/opinion/interview/article2574398.ece?homepage=true

http://roundtableindia.co.in/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=3977%3Adalits-observe-mahishasura-day-in-jnu&catid=1%3Acurrent-news&Itemid=103

http://www.ambedkar.org/riddleinhinduism/21A2.Riddles%20in%20Hinduism%20PART%20I.htm

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My Encounters with Telangana Issue as a Student

My Encounters with Telangana Issue as a Student

Students’ participation and their role in the Telangana movement have been substantial since 1969 agitation. In fact, during 1969 agitation they were the genuine victims. Even today their sacrifice is being greatly acknowledged across the Telangana region, especially by the people who are leading the movement.

My consciousness about the Telangana movement started to bud, especially with the formation of Telangana Rastra Samithi (TRS), in 2001. I hail from the Vijayawada city of Coastal Andhra Pradesh, and during 2001; I was pursuing my Plus Two/intermediate. My classmates always had aversion towards the separate Telangana view, as it started to hit the political/public space by that time. This is not surprising. Because, Coastal Andhra people always had a romantic view of Telugu’s unity/Separation of Andhra Pradesh is a sin, etc. But, my Civics Lecturer Anjaiah was conscious about this issue and tried to reflect on realistic grounds, by high-lighting the cultural and dialectic looking down of the Telangana people by the Andhra people and Andhra dominated film making industry projection of Telangana dialect in the production of films in negative/comedy/rowdy accent manner, etc.

I can still recollect some of the instances encountered with the faculty members and classmates during my Graduation times on this issue, when most of the students started to reflect on this. During my Graduation at Andhra Loyola College (ALC), Vijayawada, a few classmates were from Telangana region. They were poor, and were studying with the financial help extended by Christian organisations, and again a few of them were to become Fathers in the Christian congregations after completion of specific duration.  But, these students used to have strong desire for separate Telangana, though never aired the same view assertively. In fact, my History Lecturer Dr S Ananth was in favour of separate Andhra. His argument was that though most of the revenue was generated from Coastal Andhra; development is taking place in the Telangana region. This argument use to surprise us. Of course by this time Andhra students in the class room were not sentimental enough to feel and argue separation of United Andhra is a sin, etc!! The other faculty whom I can recollect is Dr C S Ramachandra Murthy. He was concerned towards the injustice to the Telangana region and was optimistic that Telangana people could be able to achieve their statehood even after twenty years of their agitation. Now, almost ten years lapsed!!

At Andhra Loyola College, I pursued English Literature, History and Political Science. As a student of Literature I was consciousness enough to understand the dynamics of dialects of a language. Due to this consciousness, I never tried to laugh at the dialect of the Telangana people, though it made me to feel different and laugh on a few occasions. This is a kind of democratisation of thinking process and actions, to lead a conscious life by respecting and recognising the identity of the ‘other’ and knowing on what grounds one should not be humiliated!!

At last, I have a lot of practical and ideological experiences with the Telangana issue at the University of Hyderabad, when I started to associate with this University and the city of Hyderabad since 2006 for M.A., M. Phil., and Ph. D with the Department of Political Science of this University. I had a difficult time to understand in some instances the dialect of the Telangana students on the campus. But, as a person of Literature background I was conscious and concerned towards this problem.

On the University Campus, I know Mr Gopi Tadaka, who was pursuing his Integrated Masters Programme in Humanities/Telugu, as we both were boarded at the same Hostel – F, during 2007 – 2008 or so for a short duration. I felt him like an Andhra boy basing on this accent. But, once to my surprise I came to know him as a Telangana boy!! Immediately I told him; this is a big surprise to me, as his accent never reflected that of a Telangana nature. Then, his cool reply was; he consciously started to adopt Andhra accent, in order to not to hurt with his Telangana dialect the Andhra people. He admitted some of the words in Telangana dialect would hurt the Andhra people, and as a result, he was well conscious about his dialect in language. Later on, when the Telangana agitation roused to its prominence during 2009 – 2010 starting with the indefinite hunger strike of Mr K Chandrashekar Rao, President of the TRS and aftermath incidents of agitation, he was an active member in the movement on the University campus and witnessed the brutal suppression of their movement by the police. From the time of this 2009 – 2010 Telangana agitation period, he started to proudly speak in his Telangana dialect, without imitating the Andhra accent. Now, he is very happy to speak in his mother tongue’s dialect.

The other person whom I encountered was Sunkari Satyam, Doctoral Fellow in the Department of Political Science. Satyam was my senior in the Department of Political Science and successfully completed his Doctoral studies in the year 2010. So, now I should address him as Dr Sunkari Satyam. Dr Sunkari Satyam hails from the Nizamabad district in the Telangana region. And, like Gopi Tadaka I too thought him as an Andhra person basing on his accent. But, one fine day to my surprise again I came know to about his Telangana identity. He seemed to have consciously following the Andhra dialect for his better employable prospects.

Telangana people complain frequently that the chance of getting employment is very rare if a person uses accent other than that of dominant Coastal Andhra. I feel, this must be true not only for the Telanga dialect using people, but also to the people from North Coastal Andhra districts like Sri Kakulam and Vizianagaram to and other dialects speaking people of the Rayalaseema region too.

During 2009 – 2010 when the Telangana agitation roused to prominence Telangana students started to raise some derogatory/objectionable slogans against Seemandhra people; then a section of the Andhra students responded quickly and objected swiftly. A kind of tension prevailed for some time. But, agitating Telangana students were quick enough to correct their mistake. Instead of commenting negatively the whole Seemandhra people in their slogans, they restricted it to Seemandhra capitalist’s exploitation of their region!!

Anyhow, on the whole, I’ve observed that the students’ of Telangana region are having strong desire for separate statehood, in order to have better life. But, the student leaders who were leading the movement are not genuine. Student leaders who are leading the Telangana movement on the University campuses are under the dictates of Telangana politicians, especially who are fostering the present Telangana agitation. The student leaders are paid handsomely to lead and continue the stirs. So, though the students are having strong desire for separate Telangana entity, they are not having proper leadership to continue and consolidate the stir. Unfortunately, for some time (in the past), could be even now, many people expected from the students side for this agitation. Any such hopes would vanish when the real side of the students’ leadership in the agitation gets exposed openly. As of now, the hallow side of the Telangana students leadership is an open secret.