University politics and Mafias in UP

Radhakanta Barik

Let us visit the Aligarh University which is nearer to Agra where you find the absence of caste but regional identities are strong. This is the only university I find that there are three groups who pursue intellectual pursuits. Conservatives are very strong but liberals and Marxists are small but the presence is very visible in the campus. Liberals' influence over the conservatives is also visible. The women students bring their burkha but keep these in their bags but after leaving the university campus to their homes located in town they wear burkha. This brings out truth of Aligarh that university is a wonderful place for learning and there are extremely good professors teaching in various departments. But the city looks ugly as it has taken by the RSS who create periodic riots and which get publicized in the press such as Dainik Jagaran in a twisted manner which is the largest circulated paper here.  Once the riots took place in the city and Dainik Jagaran twisted it and wrote it that the doctors of Aligarh university have participated in the riots. Above it there is small sentence that it is lie. We were going in the train and some people after reading the news got off and shouted at the Muslims. I showed the sentence above the news which made them cooled down. The city space is controlled by former chief minister of UP Kalyan Singh with a palatial house whose only qualification to be chief minister that he organised a large number of riots in the city. As the chief minister he allowed the destruction of Babri Masjid to happen for which he was jailed by the Supreme Court for one day as he promised in the court and that it would not happen.

From Aligarh let us go to IIT Kanpur a prestigious institute of India having brilliant students and brilliant professors. A small group of RSS pracharaks are working there. In the morning one sees them working on the field of the hostel and who do parading and holding their Sakha meeting. This group attends the seminars and conferences organised by various faculties and find anything objectionable to their narrow vision and suddenly they come out disturb the atmosphere. Twice I face their attacks on me. I was speaking in the seminar organised by the Department of Humanities where I presented the paper. They find my speech is objectionable. They did not allow me to proceed. This strategy they apply in Delhi and this small group always disturbs the academic peace and they cannot tolerate the dissent. Head of the Department Prof B N Patnaik intervened and the group left the place and then we proceeded ahead.

We went from Lucknow to Agra the oldest university which used to rule over the whole UP and all colleges. Today it stands in a dilapidated state and cracks are there in the buildings and great Professors have disappeared and the best college St John used to draw students from all over India does not work now. I came there twenty five years back as an examiner of papers and I shocked to see that in most of the answer sheets I found that Rs 50 or Rs 100 were there in the answer sheets and then questioned the teachers and found that without money they did not check the papers. This is the university taken over the caste leaders and Hindutva leaders who rule over here and they appoint most of the teachers according to the upper castes.

Let us move from Allahabad to Lucknow by plane and taxi as many rich and powerful people do as there was no direct flight between the two cities. Lucknow University has been taken over by the dacoits who belonged to high castes such as Kayastha and Brahmins. Their goons with their arms and ammunition started living in the hostels of the university. This is the prestigious university where Prof Radhakumud Mukherjee and DN Mukherjee used to teach here and were known people all over world. But taken over by the dacoits in the early 1990s. The rulers of Lucknow felt shamed and then sent the police force to remove them. For more than a year the policemen started ruling over the place. The goons got arrested and their guns were taken over by the police. River Gomati turned into darkish with the gun powder. The city of enlightened Nababs turned into a place of scoundrels.

Let us move to Allahabad from Banaras one finds the university was known as the place of learning as Cambridge of Asia. One finds the debates and discussions are integral part of the university culture. Extremely brilliant professors came down here to teach students from different parts of the country. They come here and discuss and debates and the city has produced the largest number of writers and poets and musicians. Public of city and teachers of the university meet at Coffee house located in Civil Lines. People used to discuss various issues over the cup of Coffee. The social character of the university has changed. Two caste groups such as Brahmins and Kayasthas have taken over the university and their children study here and they turn into adhoc professors then become regular professors. Some VCs  all wanted a fair recruitment then they faced stiff opposition from the gangs working here. Once we confronted the selection conducted by UN Singh and group of caste  leaders came into his room and abused him in choicest vulgar words. At sub terrain level vulgarity has been hidden under the urbane behaviour. The interview got cancelled and after a month Prof UN Singh resigned and came back to Delhi University. But the place deteriorated so fast that one can visit the Coffee house and finds the Municipality has constructed a building in front of the house. Instead of scholars meet here in light and there is darkness where goons sit and drink in day time. Sometimes fighting erupts here. Allahabad is no more city of Nehrus and poets and story writers like Premchand and Nirala. That was time when every house has been attached with a study table and book self but today the in every house the puja room has taken over the study room. This place has turned into Prayagraj from Allahabad. The train named after Prayagraj brought the intelligentsia to NOIDA in the sectior 14-15 and the city does not have a civil society only gang leaders move by wearing black suits and file the cases against each other.

In Allahabad we found some institutes are with some bright people. I went to participate in the conference on tribes here. The GB Pant institute of social sciences built by Prof A D Pant a scholar with a progressive soul. But with his departure the institute has been saffronised. The Brahmin scholars have taken over the institute. A former Director of the Institute defined the scholarship of Allahabad that they used to wear kuruta paijama but speak loudly without any substance. I presented the paper on tribal development in Koraput of Odisha and the nature of development has led to Naxalism here. Many scholars came from only district of UP Sonabhadra a tribal district speaking of the problems they faced.

One visits the prestigious university of Banaras(BHU) and at the pan shop one can understand politics of the state of UP. Most of the Professors coming for a pan which is being deliciously made by the shop keeper known Banarasi Pan and after taking a pan he gives a small lecture on his caste or those other castes who are a part of factional politics of campus. They always speak of caste and caste leader whom they themselves obliged. Till 1990 these caste groups with their leaders used to occupy the hostels of the university and did not allow the students from Dalits and backwards to enter into the hostels. Their allotment of hostel seats got forcibly occupied by the three castes: Thakurs, Brahmins and Bhumiars and they distributed loot among them. These student leaders became the leaders of the political parties. This scenario got changed outside the campus with the emergence of BSP and SP both of them represent the backwards and Dalits. They wanted the rule of law to be enforced in the campus which helped the students of other castes to enter into the hostel. Almost hundred years  back the founder of Hindu University a conservative Brahmin but wanted to change society through establishing a university into a brilliant place of learning by allowing the professors from various parts of India and students from other states. This turned into a learning place with the coming of students and brilliant scholars to the campus. Once the founder Malavya went across the river and found a brilliant student from Dalits and advised him to join the university. Jagjivam Ram came down there and took admission but could not enter into the hostel. The VC helped him to stay outside the campus but without disturbing the balance of forces in the campus. Most of the left and congress leaders came from this campus but without losing their caste identity. Post independence politics did not improve the caste identity of these leaders in political parties. Unreformed society moved to democratic politics. But the root cause of such anti social change politics lie in the landlords controlling the strings of power. Their children turned into officers and scholars and journalists. But they went to Delhi New York and London but worked as brilliant people in their respective disciplines but joined their caste groups on the social level. This is in their blood and as one moves out of the campus and go to the town of Banaras which has got a vivid description in the novel by KN Singh titled Ashi Ghat where each ghat represents an idea and there was some competition among these ideas but dominant idea remains those who grab the property of the city and live illegally. These caste groups function as the mafias and dominate society and politics. Today Hindutva led by Modi represent the city of Banaras where the dominant mafia leaders were behind his victory with a promise of development or Vikas which has not happened in the last six years. He got elected the second time and his party won the state Assembly by bringing combination and permutation of mafias representing dominant castes. There has been no Vikas and but Dube is there and mafias are looking for an outlet which get articulated in encounter killing by Dube and Dube killing eight policemen. Intellectual environment has stifled in BHU by the university administration is in the hands of the Hindutva forces. Only way coming out of this social impasse is the bringing radical land reforms in the state which can break the mafia leaders control over the castes.

The university of JNU is located in the heart of North India but located in capital town of Delhi where university draws the majority of students from two states such as UP and Bihar but intellectual and ideologically this represents a different picture. Here the Jamia Millia Islamia is there where liberalism has grown despite the opposition from the conservatives. In Delhi University having a strong intellectual tradition managed by the brilliant scholarship has been controlled by the goons of Hindutva forces who disturb the seminars and conferences organized in various departments. Here I have written a poem on JNU given below:

Look at this green island
its landscape does not change
rocks never turn into moss
this is a university campus
It is an island in the metropoly
full of trees and birds
it is a dream place
young people come here to share their dreams
Every tree stands for a dream
each dream turns into idea
people struggle over the idea
to work over the idea they go to library
they share their dreams with the books
they go to the laboratory and works there
they go to Coffee house to discuss over coffee
they go to their hostels and share their dreams
after dinner with a scholar
they carry their dreams in a jhula
this jhula carries many ideas
he might wear jean and shirt
she might wear pant and kamij
they share their ideas sitting over the rock
looking at the sky
its stars, moon and clouds
they enjoy Kalidas to Marx
they live with their dreams
they try to fly with the birds here
go to the sky and touch the 'cloud's fire'
they walk on the curly roads
rocky paths
their hairs are curly
their read and discuss
each is different here
each plays with his or her dreams
each feels that he or she is a king
a king in one's world of ideas
they see success here
to realise the dream they work hard
labour is the basis of their reaching at cloud's fire
they turn in big number and attend symposium
they discuss the ideas crossing the boundary
ideas have no boundary
it crosses the sea and desert
it crosses the country and continent
they have flied like birds to create nests
they are different that is the university
they are passionate about their feelings
about their thinking
about their world
This is a place where one sees success
failure is in coward's world
they realise their dreams as teachers, poets artists and politicians and civil
they work for their bread but without losing their roots
they see their roots with the walking of peacocks
in the rocks and trees
they see a invisible river
they dream of many rivers
all the rivers meet here
Kaveri to Ganga
Godavari to Mahanadi
Their hearts are like ocean
it is vast and deep
it moves with the empathy and compassion
that is JNU
It is an idea
people work out an idea
each turn into a growing tree
sitting over a rock
they feel like a king
there are so many kings
the real king is scared and angry
that he flies in jet and wears jacket of lakhs
Here the king wears a kurta and pyjama
carries his jhula with full of dreams
The king wants each tree be reduced to bonsai
the same size and same length and breadth
here the landscape is different
rocks are of different size
the peacocks walk slowly and eat insects from grass
The king has ordered to create a green island into a desert
but in the desert there will be trees and camels
they will be different and they carry their dreams
This is a green island
This is a picture of JNU from sky
Here the sky is carrying moving clouds
it may rain any moment
it is a beautiful landscape for poets and artist
politicians and teachers and journalists
Here they come to find the truth
the truth is hidden in the rocks and trees and birds
they sing their songs wherever they go
that is life
life is full of dreams and passions
this is green island with trees and birds
It is JNU

Prof Radhakanta Barik (retd), Indian Institute of Public Administration, New Delhi

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Jul 28, 2020

Prof. Radhakanta Barik

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