Modi’s Undeclared Emergency: Academia feels the Heat

Universities Under Indira Gandhi and Narendra Modi, a pithy comparison
Even during the 21 months of the Emergency between 1975-1977, the bastions of learning were never shabbily treated as they are now

I was a teacher at a University in Bihar in 1974, and played a very active role in the J.P-led  (Jayaprakash Narayan-led) movement. Along with a few colleagues, I was detained under the dreaded MISA (Maintenance of Internal Security Act, 1971) and was suspended from service under the rules. After release from the jail , we were not discriminated against. Even though it was well known that JP had asked the students to give one year to the country and discontinue their studies, the University treated us, as any other teacher and not like an enemy who might be influencing students to respond to J.P.'s call. Even the students' organisations affiliated to the Indira Congress and the CPI did not treat us dis-repectfully or interfered with us in any way.
 When the emergency was clamped, we continued our activities to oppose Indira Gandhi and the emergency and were detained under  the Defence of India Act (1915). Following our release on bail, we were placed under suspension, which was withdrawn only after Indira Gandhi's defeat and the lifting of the emergency. The suspension order was passed at the instance of the State government.  However, the University did not impose any restriction on our entry into the college nor  did it interfere with our movement inside college or the university .In fact, even the students ' organisations affiliated to the Indira Congress and the CPI did not treat us disrespectfully.
Under Narendra Modi, educational institutions are under attack in a planned manner .With Modi coming to power, the ABVP (Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad) has suddenly sprung into action. It creates a conflict and then complains to univerisity authorities, who act either on their own or at the instance of government to suppress other organisations.
This happened at the IIT, Chennai, in the Central University, Hyderabad and many other places. The most outrageous was the wholesale attack on JNU .The Union Government went out on full-scale attack, and allowed its goon brigade in black to beat up Kanhaiya Kumar in the court and other  JNU students in Patiala court campus with hundreds of policemen looking the other way.
The ABVP, empowered by the administration’s silence and authorities acting in tandem has become a familiar pattern in educational institutions by now .The organisations affiliated to the ruling party and the agencies of the State collaborating in this suppression of the opposition is a well known and time-tested strategy of  fascist organisations .
The latest and most naked show of the power of the State is the order regarding Professor Saibaba of Delhi University ‘not to enter the college without permission’. He is  physically (90 % ) differently abled. What are the authorities afraid of? They have nothing to fear. But the order is meant to display the iron fist which Modiji had kept concealed in democratic gloves before coming to power. It is the same show of brute power that was evidenced when the CBI raided the residence of Himanchal chief minister just as he was leaving for a Mandir (temple) to perform a Puja on the day of his daughter's wedding .
The autonomy of universities nurture an atmosphere in which a hundred flowers may bloom and a hundred thoughts may prevail[1]. This is  indispensable for  pushing further the frontiers of knowledge, and should be protected, at all costs, from Modi's brutal attack .

(The author is a veteran civil rights activists associated with major movements and the People's Union for Civil Liberties,PUCL)


[1] Though he did not live up to it, the sound and magnificent call was given by Mao.



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