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Student protests in Presidency University lose ground

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Picture credit: Arko Pal Dutta

By Arnab Mitra and Sreyashi Mazumdar

Kolkata: Student protest lost its ground owing to the ambiguous nature of the demands put forth during the same. The protest started off on 21st August, the day Chief Minister Mamata Bannerjee visited the campus to attend the first convocation of Presidency University.

The students welcomed the Chief Minister with black flags, followed by a night long humiliation of the Vice Chancellor Anuradha Lohia.

The Civil Society, including the alumni of the university criticized the protest owing to the kind of indecency projected; a male student in an attempt to outrage the authority wore a bra and came out in the open.

Picture credit: Arko Pal Dutta

Though quite late in the day, but the protesting students apologized to the society saying that the woman concerned was not from Presidency.

On 25th August, Vice Chancellor Anuradha Lohia, in an interaction with NewsGram said, “Students are not my enemy, on their demand I appoint registrar in the committee. Now, I won’t understand why they are still protesting, however the door is always open for discussion. I request to all my students, please go back to class, don’t waste your time”.

Picture credit: Arko Pal DuttaThe protesters said that they won’t negotiate with the committee. The protesters even went to the extent of threatening journalists who were trying to get apprised of the situation.

Picture credit: Arko Pal Dutta

Though the protesters have been trying hard to hold their ground, the dwindling crowd protesting the authority hints at the failure of the protest.

Picture credit: Arko Pal Dutta

 

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Changing Times – Presidency University Bids Adieu to its Legacy of Graffiti on Walls

Presidency University is losing an integral part of its culture-the expression of opinion through graffiti on walls.

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Presidency College, Kolkata. Image source: Wikimedia Commons

The Hindu College was established in 1817 in the city of Calcutta. It is much later that it came to be known as Presidency College and then, Presidency University. Presidency served as alma mater to Sukumar Ray, Subhas Chandra Bose, Satyajit Ray, Amartya Sen and many more stalwart figures. Derozio himself, had taught in Presidency(then known as Hindu College). Derozio’s disposition  towards his students was clearly manifested in his poem, “A Sonnet to the Pupils of Hindu College,” where he wrote:

“What joyance rains upon me, when I see

Fame in the mirror of futurity

Wearing the chaplets you are yet to gain

And then I feel I have not lived in vain”

Thus, Presidency was a force to be reckoned with in every sense of the term.

But when we stepped into the campus, years later, that zest for life and hunger for truth, the kind of education that was imparted by Derozio was on the verge of ebbing away. The Derozians could no longer take part in anything bigger than the academic scheme of things for they would be debarred from sitting for the examination. The legacy of protests and uninhibited opinions had come to a standstill. No matter how hard they tried, they could not break free. No more of Ray’s Non-sense Club or Bose’s undying spirit would be reborn there.

Our seniors would tell us, “How would you understand? You haven’t quite seen the Presidency we have!” We use to laugh at that but we knew something was missing.

Our teachers, especially, the ones who had once been the students of Presidency and now, served as professors, would tell us in a nostalgic moment, “What we experienced in Presidency was nowhere even near to what you are seeing”.

Indeed, we were missing out on a lot.

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The graffiti on the walls of Union Room manifests the democratic spirit of the University.

However, the walls still could talk to us. Their graffiti was still staring back at us. They still bore witness to the legacy of the past and were in no way forgetting it. They still remained vocal about their protest against AFSPA, against constant vigilance and their demand for student’s union election. But, for how long?

Little did they know that soon they would be covered in the facades of an utterly modern life.  Their voices would be silenced and put into a lifelong slumber. We had a little bit of art and love left inside Presidency and that too, would get drained.

Another graffiti.
Another graffiti.

No more Buddha, no more of that impeccable telephone. No more would the walls scream out, demanding what is rightfully theirs.

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When all of this havoc was reeking on us, a friend decided to capture the remnants and preserve it by capturing the beautiful wall art in her camera. If Buddha was gone, how long would others last? It was a novel initiative on her part, a way to hold on to something before it was gone forever,  but it never should have come to that.

The walls after being renovated.
The walls after being renovated.

On our 199th year, we are being forced to say goodbye to our legacy of graffiti on walls.

-by Atreyee Sengupta, an intern at NewsGram. Twitter: Etrui14

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Will China come to investment-starved Bengal’s rescue?

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Mamta banerjee
Mamata cares for Mukesh Ambani, not for those dying from dengue: Vijayvargiya

Kolkata: After hunting for investments in a rather futile way in Singapore and Britain, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee appears to have taken some interest in looking for money where it is available — China.

In October, China’s Zhontong announced plans for a bus making factory at Andal, the state’s upcoming hub in its industrial belt of Burdwan. The agreement was signed when Chinese Vice President Li Yuanchao was in Kolkata on his way to Delhi. This was a significant visit signalling Chinese priorities.

The Chinese are keen to invest in the east, which explains their sustained interest in the Kolkata-Kunming or K2K Forum.

But while West Bengal Finance Minister Amit Mitra took a team to the South Asian Expo in Kunming in July this year on an exploratory visit, his government is hardly taking any interest in the K2K summit that will be held in Kolkata on November 24-25.

Mitra’s visit to Kunming and Li Yuanchao’s to Kolkata seem to have got the Chinese working big time on the K2K.

“They are sending a very high-power delegation to the K2K this year. Yunnan’s deputy governor will lead the team and that will consist of several top CEOs of major Chinese companies,” K2K secretary general (India) Binoda Mishra told this correspondent.

Mishra says he has asked the West Bengal government and other states in the east and northeastern India to send their industry or commerce ministers and secretaries to the K2K summit to scout for possible Chinese investments or joint ventures.

“The scope for that is significant what with such a high-power delegation coming,” Mishra said. But so far no minister in the West Bengal government has confirmed presence.

When the K2K annual forum was held in Kolkata in 2013, then industry minister Partha Chatterjee and Governor M.K. Narayanan had addressed the forum but made no real effort to woo Chinese investments.

In 2014, when the K2K annual forum was held in Kunming, the West Bengal government did not send a minister or a secretary in the delegation. Manipur, however, is sending a big delegation as are some smaller northeastern states.

For a state with the kind of negative business image like West Bengal, China remains perhaps the only realistic source for investments and industrial joint ventures.

But, though Mamata Banerjee has been in power since 2011, it is only in July this year that she sent Finance and Industry minister Amit Mitra to China to scout for possible investment.

During the visit last month of the Chinese vice president, an invitation was extended to Mamata Banerjee to visit China, which she accepted.

As Bengal goes into election mode after Bihar, it is perhaps unlikely that Banerjee will visit China before the 2016 state elections.

“Her record in securing investments for Bengal has been very poor, not the least because she has not gone to the right places,” Bharatiya Janata Party’s minder for Bengal, Siddharth Nath Singh, said.

The BJP-ruled states like Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Gujarat have attracted Chinese investments worth billions of rupees. But Bengal has clearly failed to take advantage of China’s interest in investing in the state’s once famed manufacturing sector which still has potential but has languished for years.

( Subir Bhaumik, IANS)
(Photo Credit: Newsmobile.in)

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Politics and campus mayhem in Kolkata varsities

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By Arka Mondal

Kolkata: West Bengal’s once-reputed educational institutions that once produced some of India’s best known faces, both leaders and scholars, are now plagued by frequent incidents of campus violence, mass copying, irregularities in admission procedures and student protests over trivial matters.

The state’s prestigious institution, Jadavpur varsity, remained the epicentre of a massive student agitation recently that led to the unprecedented step of its vice chancellor being asked to step down. The students’ movement, that had extensive reverberation with many of the Jadavpur University alumni expressing solidarity, had its roots in a demand by students for an independent probe into the alleged molestation of a female pupil. A subsequent “violent” police crackdown on the agitating students gradually snowballed, resulting in vice chancellor Abhijit Chakrabrti stepping down in the face of what he called an “undemocratic” and “unconstitutional” stir initiated by “politically-affiliated” students.

Academic circles attributed the present scenario to the political leaders who are politicising

www.digitallearning.eletsonline.com
www.digitallearning.eletsonline.com

the educational system in the state to reap their personal gain. It has become a common phenomenon among people to point finger at the party in power. Same happened with the Jadavpur University fiasco with people, including educationists, blaming political interference, especially by the ruling Trinamool, for the “anarchy”. They further claimed that the students were acquiring a tendency to agitate for “anything and everything”. Instead of pointing fingers a section of teachers and students must bear the responsibility for the crisis that has engulfed the education system, said a former vice chancellor Pradip Narayan Ghosh.

Bengal students have always been politically active, but the restiveness now seems to be going beyond limits. The problem is not only with Jadavpur, where the best goes to study, but the phenomenon is fairly widespread. Reports of students sitting on fasts or confining teachers and authorities have become too frequent.

The iconic Presidency varsity witnessed similar scenes with students resorting to a fast-unto-death demanding revocation of the clause that barred students with less than 60 percent attendance.

www.collegedunia.com
www.collegedunia.compercent attendance from contesting or voting in the student’s body polls.

It is alarming that students have become habitual agitators and the varsity authorities have to concede to the illegitimate demands of the students.

The situation is a result of the former Leftist government’s theory of using the growing restiveness of the students for its “political ambition”s, engulfing the entire education system in anarchy. And the result – the rise of right wing politics in the campus. It surely is alarming to see the ABVP gaining ground in Bengal.

What was horrific was killing of a cop during campus elections. West Bengal’s education now boasts of regular mass copying, goons becoming part of the college administration and teachers and principals working at the mercy of students.

Violence in educational campus is not a new phenomenon and happens across the world. Rather, every country has its faction of students that indulge in agitations. However, the character, nature and dimensions of violent incidents in developed countries are completely different from the violence that we witness in our educational campuses. The prime reasons of these differences are, that our attitude, value and belief system to the academic institution are absolutely asymmetrical from the western culture and belief system. Our attitude and values to the academic institution and their sanctity in student and student-teacher relationship are different.

From the days of our national movement against the colonial power, students in India had played a very significant role and came forward to take active part in the liberation struggle. Such was the aura of the students that it compelled even our national leader to unhesitatingly declare that education could be suspended for a certain period of time but national movement for freedom should be never be stopped. Politics is in our tradition since the time of our national liberation struggle.

During late 60’s and early 70’s of the last century, student politics and campus violence became synonymous with the college life in West Bengal. But from late 70’s, the violence started to haunt the state and its politics. A new type of campus politics emerged. This new type of violence comes with only one motive – to take hold of the campus.