By Ila Ananya
One of the funniest things we came across yesterday was a hilarious piece on The Indian Voice (an “expose”, as it was called), that proceeded over some 600 odd words to explain to the world that it was television journalist Barkha Dutt who “planted, trained, and wrote script” for Gurmehar Kaur. This ‘expose’ which supposedly called out the “theatrics” and “trick” that left-leaning people were playing, was called “the news of the day”.
The jolly ‘evidence’ this piece provided involved digging up Dutt’s interview with Kaur back in 2015 — “the talent that Barkha is, she must have simply assessed the girl’s emotions and sentiments, and found in her the perfect ‘bakri’ to launch against the Right”, the piece says. But this isn’t new, we all know how many uncle-jis seem to think Kaur has been brainwashed. Of course it threw in a random photograph by Kaur that showed her and Arvind Kejriwal with the same flower wreath filter that the whole world has been using in the last few months (obviously meant as a joke), and the piece called it a “favouring of leftist goons”. Apparently this is all also a big conspiracy to make sure the BJP will lose the upcoming elections in Uttar Pradesh. We don’t know what the connection is.
But on the same day as this piece was published, another serious piece took off from that hilarious The Indian Voice article, lamenting how Kaur’s “foolhardly activism” was an indication of the “erosion of idealism in education”.
“It’s astonishing why this fundamental question isn’t asked in any of the narratives surrounding such issues: Why do students even need to agitate on college and university campuses instead of sincerely doing what they are there for: Studying, getting educated, and emerging as productive contributors to the Indian society? Or to put it bluntly, what sort of teachers or citizens would the “Bharat tere tukde tukde honge” types become tomorrow?”
It’s not a one-off. Outlook also reported that a Telangana BJP leader, Krishna Saagar Rao, has also talked about his heart-felt feelings about education systems in India. “There are many Gurmehar Kaurs in university campuses across India. This young woman is only a representative sample of a select section of young people, who are products of a failed education, parenting & social support system of a 70-year independent India” he said.
I studied in a college in Bangalore where I learnt in the most supportive English and Journalism department, time and again, to fight for what I believed in. It was also a place I was constantly reminded of my own privilege in, and it was where I figured that if I didn’t question anything I was taught, I would have to deal with apparently knowledgeable men who knew what was better for me.
Infuriatingly, their descriptions of who an ideal student is — the one who attends class and takes down notes and doesn’t ask questions, completely ignores the agency of any student. In my case, it would mean that I was forced to listen to random teachers who didn’t teach me say, “lady, you don’t know anything,” and others who told me that my pants were too short and my ankles would turn men on. Or it would mean that I was expected to believe everything we learnt in compulsory sessions in college, where we had to listen to old men go on and on about how terrible abortions are, and that sexual harassment at the work place was not a real thing. It makes no sense, because otherwise I’d be expected to be happy with everything I was being ‘given’, when it was really nothing in the first place.
And also, on a side-note, before the right-wing begins to say anything more about the “plight of his [Rohith Vemula] hapless mother”, as the man describes Radhika Vemula in his piece, we suggest they read this interview with Gogu Shyamala about the Radhika Vemula Solidarity Committee, and stop being invoking Radhika Vemula to further their own arguments, as though they really care.