I have been a little absent from Facebook due to some emergent work.
Nonetheless, as a teacher and a scholar I think it will be amiss to be silent when a certain objectionable photograph involving students and ex students of AMU has caused a bitter division in the university.
While I sympathize with the general outrage which i have belatedly discovered, i would like to put forward a few observations-
1:- Higher education institutions in the public sector have been under sustained attacks over the past decade or so. The current government has made matters worse by choosing to engage in crude communal politics in order to divide and disperse resistance to such attacks.
2:- AMU has recently weathered a slew of allegations of being anti national. Just like in JNU, after the initial attack on the nationalism of the institution, the attack has shifted to the moral quotient of the institution. Let us not forget that certain organisations are experts in counting liquor bottles and condoms instead of academic achievements.
3:- The consistent high performance of the Higher education institutes in question, including AMU in national and international metrics of various kinds underlines the success of the public education model, which allows students from deprived sections to excel in life. The almost 100 percent placement of students from these institutions, either in jobs where they become resposible tax payers, or in other institutions of research despite coming from impoverished social and economic backgrounds is proof enough for the continued leading role of these institutions in the Indian education landscape.
4:- The attack on these institutions is informed and mediated by the requirements of neo liberal capital that must first tarnish and destroy these great educational institutions before they can set up their own shops. They are being assisted in this task by communal fascist forces who seek to profit through partnership with the national bourgeoisie, rather like the Nazi party did in Germany.
5:- The failure of the state to provide Higher education and jobs to the masses has created a new class of indentured laborers who have taken huge loans to finance their worthless degrees. This group is forming a new class of lumpen proletariat who are falling for the propaganda of the communal fascists who are blaming their own failures on the marginalized and the weak. This group is being formed into the foot soldiers of fascism because of the disarray of progressive forces in most parts of the country.
6:- The worst affected by these attacks are women, Tribals, Dalits and Muslims, poor farmers and contractual workers… These groups have not been able to unite due to various different historical and current material conditions.
7:-The social fascists have been attacking these isolated groups through seemingly liberal frameworks. In this light the onus falls on women to not be ‘feminazis’, but be liberal, on tribal to not be ‘Maoist’ but liberal, on dalits to not be ‘ambedkarite’ but liberal and on Muslims to not be ‘religious/terrorists’ but liberal, on farmers to not be ‘left’ but liberal, and on workers to not ‘unionize’, but be liberal. It is this narrow capitalist liberalism that is sold out to the social fascists that we must oppose while building bridges across divisions that are being used to further the objectives of the ruling class/caste/ideology.
8:- It is in this light that we must view these intentional, maliciously divisive posts.
9:- It must be noted that the post was put up by someone who has been a history sheeter when it comes to spewing communal venom.
10:- We must note that responses of outrage must not resort to violence, or threaten violence of any any kind. The entire purpose was to elicit a violent response in order to further malign the institution.
11:- While we all have individual rights to follow our own conscience in matters of religion, thought and belief as enshrined in the constitution, the same does not extend to demeaning or disparaging the beliefs of others.
12:- One must note that the wording of the post by the history sheeter was calibrated to incite unrest.
13:- As Aligs, that is members of the AMU community, we are already under attack. We must be extremely guarded as to how we engage with a world that is constantly trying to question our relevance. It is time to take more responsibility for our actions, especially when it comes to a digital age where images, videos and data are routinely morphed for narrow sectarian interests.
14:- It is also time to question the neon lit commodified individual liberalism that we often make our ideal. It neither questions power radically, nor aims at any collective resistance to communal fascists and bourgeoisie forces. Let us accept that we all have fallen for narrow individual goals. It is important to ask if the so called resistance is at all attacking the root issues, or are we truly being radical.
15:- We must condemn in no uncertain terms the slew of hate messages, any sort of online and offline hounding, death/rape threats from any quarters. We must also condemn in no uncertain terms calls for banning, exile, etc from self appointed guardians of morality. If the idea of our engagement is to disengage, or abuse and spread anger, we also lose any right to claim any moral right to intervene
Writer is Assistant professor, Department of English, AMU Aligarh and Alumnus of JNU
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