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Arani Chakravarti on the ongoing `Goondagiri’ at Visva Bharati

ProfArni

There are two layers of wrong associated with this agitation. Firstly, the question of reservation for the `internal’ candidates impinges on the core issue of fair play and equality. Why should a deserving student from, say Bolpur High School or any other school for that matter, be denied a level playing field? Just because someone has been studying in Pathabhavana or Sikshasatra should not entitle him or her to preferential treatment. No group or section should be treated as a class of super-citizens of this country.

While I stood at the Shiksha-Bhavana gate on Saturday, an apparent `leader’ asked me why I do not object to reservation for the SC and ST candidates. Am I to really believe that he is so dull and ill-informed that he does not know that an extreme form of inverse-reservation was applied over many-many generations on a large section of our own people, resulting in significant damage? If we, as an aspiring modern welfare state decide to forego some `development’ in order to allow everyone to catch up, does that compare in any way to this particular form of reservation? This is nothing but naked and shameless vested interests at work. `Educated’ people can be conveniently naive and aggreived when they need to.

The second point, which is of paramount importance, is the method applied. Any form of `gherao’, any form of forced closure, constitute physical assault. Only the police can restrain me by force, that too with a suitable warrant or mandate from a proper empowered authority. Otherwise, as a free citizen of this country, I have an inalienable right to step out of or into my room or my department. A strike, irrespective of its merits, is a strike only when it is voluntary … else it is `goondagiri’. We are seeing students and other people locking gates and intimidating willing persons. These cowards probably know that if the gates are opened, the real picture regarding the percentage of people supporting this so-called agitation will become clear. This is nothing but criminal intimidation and should be dealt with as a law and order problem. I have very strong and uncharitable views regarding physical restraint and would like to see police action. Unfortunately, the events at JU have sent all the wrong signals – we reap as we sow.

None of these `young’ people are all that young. During earlier times, they would have been considered mature enough to have a family! They are eligible to vote, and should understand what democracy is all about.

And regarding Gurudev! Poor soul, he has been exploited and brutalised by the Santiniketan community beyond measure. Every misdeed is given a veneer of acceptability citing `what Rabindranath wanted’. Apparently, there are some who are in the know (through planchette, maybe) what he wanted; even if the events relate to the present times, so many years after the dear man’s death! Shameful indeed! He was the soul of modernity and decency and we have never deserved him.

For shame! Parents who would like to see their childrens’ class-mates deprived – guardians who do not think twice before lining up their little ones to take part in an ugly agitation which they understand nothing about.

This is all about being weak and afraid to take on the world on its own terms. We are weaklings.

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