I write this as a student of Jawaharlal Nehru University who has been a witness to the students’ movements during the past two years and a participant of the anti-Lyngdoh campaign within the university. I associate myself very much with the independent left students on campus. And I am writing this from that perspective. JNU, […]
By: PRATYUSH NIRJHER
Two years have passed since Rohith Vemula ended his life from this alien world of things and numbers. But his last letter and the movement which emerged after the death of his body, demonstrated that he will always be alive in the collective consciousness of those who still dreams about the possibility of a new and different world, where human beings will not be treated as mere objects but as a mind – “As a glorious thing made up of star dust. In every field, in studies, in streets, in politics, and in dying and living.” A world where love, art, science and politics will not be governed by exchange-relations. A world of living men and women freed from the domination of objects and money. A world where freedom will not be freedom ‘only to buy’ but will be a real freedom to practice our creative potentials. A world where human beings will not feel alienated from his everyday life and work. A world that we all will share equally.
But the tragedy is that the place from where it all started, our university, is facing a monstrous reversal of the movement and continuation of the dominant situation. This continuity of the dominant situation of alienation and indignity is an effect of the break in the continuity of the movement which started with Rohith Vemula. So, as an active subject of the situation, it’s our task to re-think and re-analyze it so that we can re-build the movement.
We can start with some of the most visible symptoms of the crisis of the present world in general and our universities in particular. Depression, panic, anxiety, schizophrenia etc. is now a general condition of our existence both inside and outside the university which only ends with the end of life itself. It shows that we are all going through an intense feeling of alienation and self-estrangement in our everyday life. In this condition our everyday life activity becomes some estrange activity on which we have no control. Our own productive and re-productive activities/work becomes external to us. ‘ In our work, we do not affirm ourselves but denies ourselves, do not feel content but unhappy, does not develop freely our physical and mental energy but mortifies our body and ruins our mind.’ Marx clearly shows this in the section named ‘Estranged labour’ of Economic and Philosophical Manuscript of 1844, as a peculiar nature of ‘work’ in capitalist society, where our ‘labour is not voluntary, but coerced; it is forced labour’. But Marx was writing this in the era of industrial capital when intellectual labour still seemed to be free and outside the direct economic production. Those times an intellectual was not defined by his/her social conditions, but as a representative of a system of universal values. So the university was a place for ‘free’ and ‘rational’ thinking. Although we know that this division between intellectual and manual labour is itself one of the important form of division of labour in the capitalist society, but capital at that time used it only to maintain the social order and its hegemony by continuous production and re-production of dominant form of knowledge through which it can continuously produce labour-power and means of production for the appropriation of the surplus-value at continuously increased level by increasing the productivity of social labour; it did not use intellectual labour for the direct production of surplus-value. But in last 30-40 years things have changed drastically and we can feel it through our everyday life experience inside and outside the university. It shows that something has fundamentally changed. Our intellectual capacity, desires, creativity and every single moment of our life is under control of capital and being directly used for the production of surplus-value.
Marx clearly demonstrated this tendency of capital in Grundrisse:
“Nature builds no machines, no locomotives, railways, electric telegraphs, self-acting mules etc. These are products of human industry; natural material transformed into organs of the human will over nature, or of human participation in nature. They are organs of the human brain, created by the human hand; the power of knowledge, objectified. The development of fixed capital indicates to what degree general social knowledge has become a direct force of production, and to what degree, hence, the conditions of the process of social life itself have come under the control of the general intellect and been transformed in accordance with it. To what degree the powers of social production have been produced, not only in the form of knowledge, but also as immediate organs of social practice, of the real life process.”
So with the emergence of ‘general intellect’ our entire social life came under control of capital and general social knowledge has become a direct force of production. That means the places of knowledge production like-our universities has become the direct producers of surplus-value. It also means that our universities have transformed into real factories, which not only produces labour-power in the form of trained and skilled workers for future appropriation but during the production of labour-power itself it produces surplus-value. In this condition we are always already workers. Our labour-time is enslaved not only in present but also in future.
Once we recognize this situation we are clearly able to see the direct relationship between our everyday experience of alienation and self-estrangement with the nature of academic work, which is actually ‘forced labour’ used for the production of surplus-value which acquires different forms of private property. In other words it is estranged labour which is the real reason of private property and not otherwise. As Marx clearly indicates- “True, it is as a result of the movement of private property that we have obtained the concept of alienated labor (of alienated life) in political economy. But on analysis of this concept it becomes clear that though private property appears to be the reason, the cause of alienated labor, it is rather its consequence, just as the gods are originally not the cause but the effect of man’s intellectual confusion. Later this relationship becomes reciprocal.”
So, if private property and the entire social relations formed by it is the result of the alienated labour, then it cannot be understood only in terms of possession of tangible wealth or in terms of monetary exchange. We need to understand it in terms of one’s relational and relative control over conditions of production and/or reproduction, or in terms of differential levels and layers of alienation. And once we do that we can easily understand, how it is directly related to the question of social recognition and dignity.
The differential distribution of social dignity – more precisely the differential distribution of social indignity- one of the important form of hierarchical segmentation of social labour – is continuously produced and/or reproduced by differential levels and layers of alienation. It is one of the product of the peculiar nature of work in the capitalist society. This form of hierarchical segmentation of social labour, produced by differential distribution of social indignity, directly coincides with the historical image of caste system, the culture of which is still dominant in Indian society.
This provides a fertile ground for capital in its neo liberal phase to directly use this system of relations constitutive of hierarchization of social recognition and dignity, continuously produced and re-produced by culture of caste, for hierarchical segmentation of social labour. It is also a necessary condition for capital to hierarchically divide ‘labourers’ within the same labour-form or job or occupation for the continuous production of surplus-value as surplus-labour-time at more intense level. For example –lower-caste students in having to perform the additional psychological labour of grappling with relative lack of social dignity, produced and reproduced by caste-culture, experience a relative intensification of labour-time for social reproduction-which is the time for production of labour-power- vis-a-vis their upper caste colleagues. It can be seen in terms of the cut in their social wages.
From this standpoint, Ambedkar’s statement that –“ caste system is not merely division of labour. It is also a division of labourers” -can be easily understood in its economic terms, because ‘division of labourers’ is a necessary condition for hierarchical segmentation of social labour not only between different labour-forms, but within same labour-form also. And in the era of neo liberal capital with the massive de-skilling or same-skilling of labour, a product of technological advancements with the development of fixed capital and emergence of general intellect, it is very difficult for capital to do hierarchical segmentation of social labour only on the basis of ‘skills’.
So it is more necessary than ever, for capital, to use ‘ division of labourers ‘ already existing in the society in the form of culture of caste, gender, religion, race etc. for maintaining an overall socio- technical division of labour. It is being seen in the form of the backward movement of entire society, where castism, racism, patriarchy, nationalism is reviving itself in more regressive, violent and rigid form. But our analysis shows that the existence/revival of caste system or Brahmanism, patriarchy and other forms of ‘division of labourers’, is there, not because capital is unable to subsume and destroy it or not because of some break in the universalizing tendency of capital, but it is precisely the opposite. It is because capital has already subsumed all these cultural forms inside it. Nothing remains outside capital. Capital is more universal today than ever before.
The importance of rohith vemula movement is that it shows that exclusion and untouchability is not outside but inside the system, which is (re)producing, again and again, ‘ the division of labourers’ and different forms of untouchability inside the university-factory itself, but in invisible form. Rohith vemula movement visibalized all these forms of untouchability and exclusion. But if this invisible form of untouchability and exclusion is a product of the undignified nature of our everyday life and work inside the university and if this is because the entire university has transformed into a real factory, then we can say that-no one is privileged here! Indignity is a general condition of everyone’s life. But those who comes from the oppressed section of society can experience this at more intense and direct level. Therefore their struggle against it is also more intense and powerful than the others- lesser unprivileged section of student-workers, and they can also draw their mental energy from the historical image of their struggles against different forms of power relations and oppressions existed in pre-capitalist societies. But the subjectivity constructed by this historical image, although plays an important role in challenging the hierarchical segmentation of social labour, but finally it transforms into a never ending war between identities, for more recognition and representation within the system, which again re-produces the logic of segmentation of social labour.
So it is important to recognize that what was ‘living’ in ‘the event’ of past is ‘dead’ in its present historical image. And it provides a material ground for the dominant system of the present to establish its hegemony by voiding ‘the living of the present’ so that it cannot draw its energy from the universal of the past ‘event’ which is still alive in the present to create a new future. In that case ‘the living of the present’ transforms into a mere object or thing in which we can see the image of the ‘dead’. It is a process of continuous production of fixed and static identity or alienation of living-self itself. And this is also true for ‘working class’ when we see it in its historical image of industrial workers and not as universal living subject or mind of the present in search of new and different world of future or a classless society.
So it is the rule of ‘dead’ over ‘living’ or capital (dead labour) over labour-power (living labour), which generates the subjectivity for the production of alienated labour- objectively, a necessary condition for the production of private property or capital (dead labour). But the contradiction is that the more capital kills the more it becomes difficult for it to kill more– a real crisis of capital to maintain its rule – a material condition of its own suspension, which presents itself in the form of suspension of the ‘living’. And with every passing moment this crisis goes deeper and deeper. Finally we reached a stage where entire society is suspended and every living men and women of this society feel suspended.
In pure economic terms- with the age long accumulation process of capital and its development in the form of fixed capital and general intellect finally reduced its need for living labour to its minimum and entire laboring population has transformed into relative surplus population or reserve army of labour. This provides the material condition for the destruction of capital itself- a necessary condition for the construction of a new world- A world Rohith Vemula dreamed about.
The importance of Rohith Vemula movement is that it created a possibility for the construction of a new world- by visibilizing the condition of everyone’s suspension- from the location or site of the suspended being – Velivada. The physical presence of Velivada inside the university, which came into being with Rohith Vemula movement, shows that Velivada is present everywhere in the society, but in invisible form.
So the movement which started from Velivada can only be transformed into a real movement, when it will go in the direction of complete abolition of the present social order, which produces the condition of suspension of our everyday life or forces us to constantly live in Velivada. If we see Velivada as the starting point of such a movement, then we cannot reduce it to some fixed or static identity. Velivada has no identity, because it is the location of complete identitylessness.
So, it is necessary to re-build the movement to save Velivada, not only as a symbol and memory of some past event but also as a living site of movement. A movement to completely abolish such conditions where Velivada is continuously being produced and re-produced. To completely abolish such conditions where entire society is suspended and feels alienated in their everyday life. And this movement can be re-built only if we start again and again from Velivada.
In present given condition, where Appa Rao again suspended 10 students in almost same way, there is a need to re-occupy Velivada, so that we can re-build the Rohith Vemula movement, and can give a new life to it- the only way to save not only them but all of us.
Why ‘they’ are afraid of women’s movement!
By: PRATYUSH NIRJHER
“I strongly believe in the movements run by women. If they are truly taken in to confidence, they may change the present picture of society which is very miserable. In past, they have played a significant role in improving the condition of weaker section and classes.”
The women’s revolt which started with the questioning of the patriarcho-brahmnical rule book will go down in the history of HCU by the name of the woman, who voiced the collective angst of students by shouting the first slogan-‘sexist warden go back!’, followed by more than 70 male students who were present at the site of the ‘event’, which happened at the midnight of the 3rd of November. Although this ‘event’ started within some particular situation and location, but slowly this moment of revolt is capturing the imagination of student community, especially women students. The politico-ideological culmination of which is the formation of some independent women’s group, qualitatively different in structure and functioning than the well established bureaucratic party-organisation. This formulation of women’s group is creating a possibility of a new opening in women’s movement , because it is not only addressing the questions which have been already addressed during the past movements with its different dynamics, but also trying to create a new form of collective/ organisation, which goes beyond the structure of bureaucratic party-organisation who claims to be the sole representative of every movement, and in the name of maintaining the unity of ‘numbers’ and ‘things’ they tries to homogenize each and every ‘difference’ by appropriating different voices into One. This process of homogenization is continuously creating different forms and kinds of subalternisation / oppression by (re)producing the same patriarcho-brahmnical hierarchy it claims to fight against. This homogenization-subalternisation process always (re)constructs different forms of hierarchical segmentation of social labour, which is a necessary condition for functioning of neo-liberal Capital. In this situation, a women’s group formation is creating a space where women from different caste-community and locations can critically engage with each other and can start a process of breaking of the hierarchical segmentation of social labour by challenging each and every location where these patriarcho-brahminical rules, opinions and norms are functioning.
But, as happens with every possibility of new politico-ideological formulation, almost all pre-existing forces of the time rejects it by framing it in the image of the past or something old for which they can give an already existing ‘encyclopedic’ critique. And the more this type of framing happens more it gives the proof of the crisis of the politico-ideological foundation of the hitherto existing so called ‘progressive’ and ‘revolutionary’ forces. So, the question is, what are the crisis of these so called ‘progressive’ Left and Ambedkarite forces which is stopping them from any active engagement with the new possibility in the struggle against the patriarcho-brahminical rules and norms ? Are they really capable of waging a war against these patriarcho-brahminical rules and norms, either inside or outside of campus ? And if not, why? Let us try to analyse one by one.
First, let us analyse the prevailing tendency of Left in our campus, who still think students as privileged class and university as a liberal-bourgeois free space of thinking/knowledge existing ‘above’ and ‘outside’ the society. In that case, students have two tasks to perform- first, ‘SAVE’ these so-called liberal democratic spaces of ‘free thinking’ which is under attack by the ‘fascist’ regime and second, prepare ourselves for larger fight which is there in the ‘outside’ society. So the task of student wing of the party is to gather more and more cadres and transform them into ‘vanguards’ of the ‘revolutionary’ party who will finally lead the emancipatory struggle of working-class. Because, for them, the minds of the Indian working-class (as a socio-economic category) is still occupied with many ‘pre-modern’ or ‘feudal’ remnants, like-patriarchy, caste, religion etc. and therefore will always need a ‘vanguard party’ for the actualization of the emancipatory politics!
But the crisis of these bureaucratic party-organisation of Left, in both- theory and practice, begins with the emergence of neo-liberal era of capital. When these so-called pre-modern or feudal remnants openly started functioning inside the boundaries of university itself. We can also say that modern bourgeois Indian universities were always patriarchal and brahminical, but its patriarcho-brahminical nature openly came to surface in the form of reactionary movement of the upper caste and privileged class students against the increased number of entry and cultural assertion of the students from underprivileged caste and class after implementation of Mandal commission recommendations. This reactionary movement is creating and consolidating the hierarchical segmentation within and between students on two basis – first, by the instrumental mobilization of the entirely valid material basis of the disaffection and cultural resentment of a large section of students who comes into the university with the dream of fulfillment of the ‘middle class’ ‘western’ desires which they could not fulfill outside university because of their socio-cultural location in the society, but become disillusioned by the fact that this so-called free space is also culturally segmented in the same way the entire society is. Second, the anxieties and reaction of ‘middle class’ students against the shrinking of their so-called liberal bourgeois free space where their ‘western’ desires, which they were practicing till now, is being supressed. And the university administration is using this reactionary mobilization of one segment of students against other to legitimize and strictly re-inforce the patriarcho-brahminical rules and norms, which is a tool to control and discipline the entire student community.
So, this changed socio-cultural compositions of students and reactionary movement of each segment of students against other is creating a deep rooted crisis for Left politics in our universities. Where they are not able to decide, what they have to ‘SAVE’ first, their so-called ‘revolutionary’ party as a collection of ‘numbers’, ’votes’ and ‘things’ Or the university as so-called liberal bourgeois space of ‘free thinking’ ! Because the dilemma is that, the moment they will try to ‘SAVE’ the One they are definitely going to lose the Other ! This dilemma is only the reflection of the contradiction between their political ‘ideology’ and ‘the concrete material conditions’ of the present. They are still not able to see that in this neo-liberal era, ‘Nothing’ is ‘Outside’ Capital. Today the entire globe is transformed into a big giant factory and our universities are only small links in the assembly line which is functioning inside this factory. So, the working-class (as universal political-subject and not as a socio-economic category) struggle against global capital can start from here and now(!) , only by waging a war against the patriarcho-brahminical basis of hierarchical segmentation of social labour by addressing the diverse forms of anxieties, disaffections and anger of different segments of student-workers. Failing to which these Left bureaucratic party-organisations are themselves transforming into a patriarcho-brahminical structure.
Now, let us try to analyse the politics of Dalit party-organisations. In their emergence, they not only challenged the dominant caste-culture of the so-called liberal bourgeois universities, but also challenged the brahminical tendencies within the so-called ‘progressive’ Left. But in the name of waging a long term war against patriarcho-brahminical reactionary forces by forming ‘Unity of oppressed’ ,they tried to homogenize different cultures of oppressed communities and different layers within them, like-sub-castes , gender , religious beliefs , tribes etc, into One big fixed identity under the banner of an Ambedkarite party-organisation. This process of homogenization finally produced more subalternisation. The result of which was the more division within these Ambedkarite party-organisations and politico-ideological formation of different parties on the basis of different castes, sub-castes, tribes, religious beliefs etc. And this is one of the reasons of their trauma with the emergence of the possibility of a women’s movement. They are afraid that if women from oppressed caste-community will start raising their voice by themselves, it will break their patriarcho-brahminical ‘unity’. So, in this moment of crisis, the only thing they are capable of doing is to maintain political power for immediate gains, through electoral means, by gathering different fragmented parties/groups under one banner of ‘social justice’, which is actually a process of fixation of different identities in the same patriarcho-brahminical hierarchical order against which they are fighting. This form of ‘unity’ formation is not only in contradiction with , but also blocking , Ambedkar’s project of Annihilation of caste and patriarchy, because it reduced different party/groups/community/organisation and people associated with it into mere ‘numbers’, ’votes’ and ‘things’.
So, now we can clearly see that the crisis of the ‘OLD’ ‘progressive’ Left and Ambedkarite party-organisation in this era of dictatorship of neo-liberal capital, and their reactionary effort to ‘SAVE’ it, has transformed them into a patriarcho-brahminical structure and the agents of the neo-liberal capital. In that case, they are scared of any possibility of a new form of movement and organisation, in specific case of HCU – the possibility of emergence of a women’s movement, which can break their ‘fascistic unity’ of ‘numbers’, ‘votes’ and ‘things’.. In exact words of Rohith Vemula:
“The value of a man was reduced to his immediate identity and nearest possibility. To a vote. To a number. To a thing. Never was a man treated as a mind. As a glorious thing made up of star dust. In every field, in studies, in streets, in politics, and in dying and living.”
The politics of ‘Unity’ and ‘difference’ are only two sides of the same coin, which finally reduces every universal political-subject or mind into his/her immediate identity. Then the question is, how we can envisage a politics of singularity in the light of the possibility of emergence of a women’s movement in the particular situation of our campus?
What we need is not unity but solidarity – unity in struggle and struggle in unity!!!
Note: this pamphlet was distributed on 25th November 2017 at hyderabad central university (HCU).
Raise against the Patriarcho-Brahmnical rules and norms
by: PRATYUSH NIRJHER
Why university administration is doing this? What these students did, which threatened university administration so much that they gave 6 months to 2 years of Academic suspension and lifetime hostel suspension for these students?
It all started with the reply to a SHOW-CAUSE notice in which one of the suspended students raised question on the sexist rule of the ‘HOLY RULE BOOK’ of hostels, which says- LADIES ARE NOT ALLOWED IN BOYS HOSTELS, by explaining its contradictions in detail and how authorities are using it as a tool to harass students and mostly women students. The university administration have not given any reply or explanations, because they have no real counter to the questions raised by the student and found it so offensive that they came in the midnight with drunken wardens to threaten the student by misusing entire university machineries-security guards and staffs. Because they thought this is the only way through which they can silence these ‘dangerous’ elements who publicly asks such questions to which they have no answers. The only way to save these patriarcho-brahminical rules is to threaten these ‘dangerous’ elements. But that night all of a sudden around 200 hundred students gathered there and started resisting and protesting against this illegal acts of authorities. This was the biggest threat to administration – A threat to Patriarcho-Brahmnical moral norms and rules on the basis of which they can maintain the hierarchical segmentation between and within students and discipline them.
So, why it is so important for administration/state to save and strictly re-impose these Patriarcho-Brahminical norms and rules in this particular historical time? And it is not an isolated thing limited to HCU. University campuses in every part of the country is faced with a similar pattern of functioning of university administration. We can clearly see it through the examples of what is happening in JNU, BHU, DU, EFLU, MANU, TISS, FTTII, SRFTI, IIT’s etc.
What happened to the liberal conception of the universities that envisions them as a free and democratic space, where you can debate , discuss, dissent, question the rule and norms of the society and think freely. Are we really living in such a space or is it already a ghost of the liberal- bourgeois university spaces of the past? Isn’t it simply an illusionary dream of a free space? Why is the material reality and our idea of university so contradictory? And If material and fundamental basis of the university has already changed, then what are we saving in the name of saving the university?
These questions can be only analysed concretely when we really start looking around us. To see what is really going on in our departments, hostels, mess, shopcoms and other spaces ?
Why there is a continuously increasing number of involvement of private players and mediocre class in every realm of university – hostels, mess, water supply, electricity supply, maintenance, construction work, internet facility, projects, seminars, publications, internships, shops of shopcom etc. and they are generating a lot and lot of money out of it. why university administration is selling our university to these private players and mediocre class. Why they are allowing private companies to enter into even our departments (they’ve already sold the upper floor of the Life sciences department.) And why these private players are so interested in our universities? Is it so that in the name of education, internships, training, experience…they can exploit our labour even without paying us wages, which otherwise they are bound to do if they do it outside? And when we demand that we are also producing for your company and hence we are also workers and we want wages they can simply argue that you are students and not worker so you have no right to demand wages.
If it is so, the situation is very dangerous. It shows that entire university had already transformed into the factory, but a qualitatively different type of factory, where you have even no right to demand for wages. And it is creating a dilemma/ confusion in everybody. what their idea of university and the real concrete conditions and experiences are in direct contradiction. And this dilemma, its sub- dilemmas, and consequences leads us to severe depression and suicides, which have already became a general norm in this university. But sometimes this contradiction burst out in the form of spontaneous eruption of the anger and agitation of students, which have the power to shake the foundations of this university factory, like-exactly what happened at that night, which threatened the administration, created an emergency for them and an urgency to supress this event as soon as possible, which resulted in the suspension of 10 students.
So, now, we can clearly understand why university administrations are so enthusiastic and autocratic in re-imposing these patriarco-brahmnical rules and silencing everybody who raise their voice aginst it, like- they did with ROHITH VEMULA. Because for running the factory, the university factory also, they need factory disciplining. And these patriarcho-brahminical rules and norms are the best tool to maintain hierarchical division of labour in the factory, especially university factories.
So, it is our last chance after Rohith Vemula movement to again challenge and break these patriarcho-brahminical norms and rules inside/outside the university-factory and transform it into a real movement in the entire country. And if today we fail to do so, tomorrow nothing will be left, there will be curfew everywhere and we will be forced to do slavery in this ‘iron cage’ of university factories.
J & K Hostel,
Hyderabad Central University
Sub: Response to the show cause notice issued by the warden
The show cause notice issued to me Dated on 27/10/2017 is seeking explanation for two ‘crimes’ committed by me.
1. The fact that you ‘found a lady in my room’
2. Why did I shout at the Warden
Following is the explanation for these two things in detail.
Explaining why there was a woman/ why can’t there be a woman?
First of all the very language of this official notice is denigrating women. You ‘found a lady’ in the room, as if you find a bottle or a knife or a heater, or any lifeless object. And this sense of negation of an active woman subject generated in your language was proved not an accident when one of the Wardens at the time of the raid, silenced this woman while she started to intervene in the conversation that was going on. It was a smoothly violent objectification and invisibilization- “Madam, you are not supposed to talk”!!
I understand that such a notice has been sent to me on the ground that entry of women in Men’s Hostels is against the hostel rule book. Whenever the students have raised this issue of free mobility within the campus, you refer back to this ‘holy rule book’ to defend your restriction on the student community.
Now, for the fact that this rule is muddled with a number of discrepancies and ironies that I find it hardly possible to understand the rationale on which it is grounded on. So, I request an explanation for the following problems and ambiguities in the rule itself.
1. How does the rule book define the hostel space? Is it a public space or a private space? If it is a public space, free access to any public space to the citizen is ensured by the constitution of India. I believe your hostel rule book cannot bypass the constitution. The other case, if you define it as a private space, then this infiltration of the authority into the private spaces of students is a blatant violation of our fundamental right to privacy. In that case this very act of surprise-regular raids without the prior intimation given to the students, which is no doubt a barging into our privacy, is also unconstitutional.
2. Is it about the security of women? Then the rule certainly presupposes the patriarchal-brahmanical notion that women are naturally weak / meek creatures who should be controlled and protected (by the men folk consisting – father, husband, son, wardens etc.). The second question is that how do you determine what is women’s security? In what all places and circumstances do you consider women to be insecure? In my case my female friend and classmate, whom you met in the room during the raid, was sick and I was about to take her to the hospital. I am the closest friend to her in the campus and obviously she feels more comfortable and secure around me than anyone else especially in such a situation when she was in the need to be taken care of. For her to feel safe and secure at the moment was to be in that room with me, which your rule of ‘security’ would call a crime! So it is clear that it is not really about the security of anyone, your ‘security’ is rather a tool for control and oppression. It’s then your surprise raids with a bunch of staffs and security personals and threatening of the students through different means- sometimes violent words and absurd notices (as in my case) otherwise through direct harassment ( as happened two months ago in K hostel) are the real security threat for them inside the men’s hostel.
Harassments, violence, and any sort of breach of a woman’s bodily integrity can happen in any place inside the campus other than the hostels, like class rooms, labs, libraries, auditoriums, on their way to and way back from classrooms, library etc. The logic of your project of ‘security’ -that is to restrict or deny women’s access to these ‘potential
places of threat’-what happens if it is extended to all the possible places of threat? To what extent will you go? Stopping women from going to gym, night canteens, sports complex, then libraries, labs, classes at last, then lock them up in the hostel rooms…??
3. Is the restriction in the name of morality and culture? If this rule is grounded on the ‘great’ Indian morality and culture, then you are contradicting your own terms. The Irony is that in this same university, Tagore International House has a common residential arrangement for male and female students, while women’s entry into men’s hostels is criminalised among the Indian students. What message are you trying to convey through this differential rules? Is it that Indian men, the product of the culture that your rule professes are potential harassers not the foreigners – a remnant of the colonial mentality that the Western culture is more civilized and superior than the Indian- inferior one?
Or is the attempt here is calculated to preserve the regressive heterosexual bourgeois norm in the name of saving ‘Indian culture’? But it can be historically seen that the very rule-which tries to preserve heterosexual norm-breaks it apart. For example the rules through which you are trying to create a wall between men and women, by giving them less and less space to interact with each other, in the name of preserving ‘Indian culture’ will create a condition where men start treating women not as friends, classmate or partners in their life and work, but mere objects of sexual-desire, which will make this campus more and more unsafe for women. BHU-the epitome of championing ‘Indian morality and culture’ where these rules are implemented more strictly, is an open example of the culture of most harsh form of harassment of women on daily basis.
So are you trying to implement that culture of harassment in our university also? Haven’t you learned a lesson from what happened in BHU few months before?
Explaining why did I shout on the warden/Why are you silencing us?
Shouting is an expression of anger. This anger is the product of the mental trauma through which we are going on in our everyday life because of the food, maintenance and health crisis in the campus. The events which are taking place in last two months are the proof that you and other authorities are not interested in resolving these issues at all. Two months before, when spontaneously more than 50 students of J&K hostels besieged you and started expressing their anger on different complaints, issues and the way you harassed some of the residents of K hostel and humiliated them by passing sexist comments, clicking the pictures of the undergarments of their female friends during the raid, and demanded from you written explanation for the same or resignation from your post, you ran away. Now you are back again with raids, circulars, show-cause notices, fines etc. and started using them as the tools for witch-hunting the students to create an environment of fear so that you can silence us.
Why are you silencing us? Is there some hidden agenda or interest of yours, which you are trying to protect and execute through these acts?
Few days before administration came up with a circular which restricts the entry of food venders in the campus supposedly in the interest of shopkeepers inside the campus. But we understand that it is clearly in the interest of the administration who wants to make more money in the form of rent from these shopkeepers. And just after that you started raiding the hostels so that you can stop students from cooking inside the rooms and indirectly force us to do two things- First, if we are not in a condition to eat in the mess firstly because of the poor quality of the food served there or because of some other problems like-health issues or ethnically different food habits, we are forced to eat from outside, like-Gopanpally or Shopcom or somewhere else. But this can be done only by those students who have scholarships or who come from a higher socio-economic background. The shopkeepers of Gopanpally use the money, which they earn from us, to pay the tender of shops inside the campus, which directly goes to the administration and some middle men (who can be any one, like-students or staffs etc.) in the form of rent. Such a nexus between administration-middle men-shopkeepers inside and outside the campus is made operational by extracting money from students. Second, those who
come from weak socio-economic background are forced to eat in the mess from where some agents are generating a lot of money in the form of corruption. The poor quality of the food an obvious consequence of this corruption, has created a general health crisis in HCU. Jaundice, typhoid, different sort of infections, gastric troubles etc. are now a general condition among the students. Here the extended part of this large unholy nexus comes into play – the health centre- the insurance company- and hospitals. And this part is most threatening because they are making money even out of this crisis by directly exploiting our sick body and mind. In such a condition, if someone falls sick and has to order fruits or some other healthier eatables / food online in the moment of sickness what are they supposed to do? Suppose their hostel is south campus, do you want them to go to main gate to receive their parcels? How will they manage it if they are sick and do not have enough friends who can help them in such moments? This is absurd, shameless and violent anti-students rule.
This whole story indicates that both your apathy towards this food- maintenance- and health crisis, and over enthusiasm in conducting raids to threaten and muzzle us, are perfectly in tune with the vested interests of this nexus.
I know that there will be an attempt from your part to individually target and witch hunt me, which have always been your tool to supress the loud and assertive. But my voice is just one of those voices echoing the anger and agitation of the whole student community. I believe you cannot silence us all.
So, the student community demands an official explanation for all the questions raised in the letter as soon as possible from the warden office.
Room NO: 119. MH: J
Food- maintenance- health crisis in HCU, IT’S NOT CORRUPTION IT’S EXPLOITATION!!!
In the last few days frequent hostel raids are being made by the administration to create a climate of fear among the student community. There are two major things that administration is trying to impose through this raid spree and consequent fear. One, to restrict the free mobility of students within the campus, especially stopping women from entering the Men’s Hostels using the tool of ‘moral policing’. Secondly, they want us to stop cooking in the hostel rooms. So the first question comes to our mind is – why all of a sudden administration has become so austere trying to strictly impose these rules? Can they be seen as some sporadic incidents, effects of particular individuals of authority, or is there some more general and larger agenda hidden behind all these? To analyse this, first let’s start with the issue of food. Because of the poor quality of food in the mess, Students are forced to do two things:
1) Eat from outside, like-Gopanpally or Shopcom or order online from Foodpanda etc. But this can be done only by those students who have scholarships or who come from a higher socio-economic background. The shopkeepers of Gopanpally use the money, which they earn from us, to pay the tender of shops inside the campus, which directly goes to the administration in the form of rent. Such a nexus between administration and shopkeepers inside and outside the campus is made operational by extracting money from students.
2) Cook inside hostel rooms (for that also you need to buy things from the same shopkeepers). In this category comes mostly those students who can neither expend more money nor can eat from mess due to health issues. In that case they are forced to spare time out of their busy academic schedule for cooking. That means relatively more exploitation of the students who are from weak socio-economic background.
So we can clearly see that this nexus between administration and shopkeepers which makes money out of exploitation of our reproductive time is not only directly affecting our academic work but simultaneously re-establishing the existing socio-economic hierarchy within students. And because of these harsh living conditions a generalised health crisis can be seen in HCU, where most of the students are suffering from one or the other health problems. But this is not the whole story. Here, the extending part of this large unholy nexus comes into play – the health centre- the insurance company- and hospitals. And this part is most threatening because they are making money even out of this crisis by directly exploiting our sick body and mind.
Once we see this nexus we can clearly understand what role these raids will play in the larger context. In the name of saving resources they will stop us from cooking in the room and will force us to eat in the mess so that this nexus can increase the money spinning, precisely by increasing the level of exploitation of our everyday life. In that case the anger /reaction of students against this ‘corrupt system’ will burst one day or the other, which cannot be normalised, as we are witnessing in the last few incidents. But this very process of ‘corruption’ and the reaction against it will be finally used by the administration and its ‘Bhakt’ groups within the students in favour of privatization. That means ‘corruption’ will become a tool for privatization. Where they will say -if you want good living conditions then pay more for it!!
But this illogical logic of administration and its ‘Bhakt’ groups will suddenly disappear when we will start looking at the other side of the coin- the academic production. In academics they act as contractors and force students to work for publications, seminars, internships, and projects under both public and private sectors in the name of research, training, and academic recognition. And in this process they are generating crores and crores of money by paying nothing or a negligible part of it to the students (primarily in the name of scholarships). This money generating process can be seen more clearly in Science Centres, where, they are using ‘Bhakti’/‘Guru-Shishya Parampara’/‘Sanskar’(morality) as a tool for strict hierarchical disciplining of professors/guides- Phd scholars- Msc. Students, so that they can hide the entire unpaid part of their labour and maintain the continuous process of exploitation through making them more submissive to the authorities.
So what is hidden behind this logic of ‘corruption’ is exploitation. And the ‘moral policing’ done through different means (like-hostel raids, restricting the entry of girls in boy’s hostels, sexist comments of Life Sciences’ professors and wardens Etc) are used by the administration and its ‘Bhakt’ groups to maintain the hierarchized socio-technical division of labour between and within professors – students- security guards-cleaning staff- and other sections of workers in the university.
So the struggle for good food and dignified living conditions is not really a struggle against ‘corruption’, but a direct struggle against exploitation. And we demand the state/administration to provide us good and dignified living conditions by using the same money which is being accumulated by the exploitation of our productive and/or reproductive life in academics. Otherwise one day or other the anger of students-workers will blow them sky-high.