Monday, June 08, 2015

Takeaway from IITM imbroglio

IIT administration has re-recognised the Ambedkar-Periyar Study Circle (APSC); the IIT Director has regretted that the issue had been mishandled. He has fallen short of tendering an unconditional apology as demanded by APSC at least so far and at least as known to the public.

Does this mean that the imbroglio has been sorted out and everything is hunky-dory once again? No, the situation has only metamorphosed from an imbroglio to a snafu. Things have been so badly mishandled that it is time to realise that IIT and its constituents are not a repository of wisdom.

The chronology of events is a series of misadventure, thoughtless action and spineless response. Obscurantist casteism, divisive communalism, corrosive ideology, procedural non-compliance, knee-jerk reaction, abject surrender, sensational media and promiscuous politicking have been the salient features of this sordid drama.

APSC had been fanning reverse-casteism and communalism taking cover under select quotes from Ambedkar and Periyar. When an official from the HRD Ministry sought the views of IIT administration in connection with an anonymous complaint received by it, the latter instead of reverting to the ministry with its views, plunged into action by derecognising APSC ignoring all procedural protocol. The omni-present media, ever on the qui-vive for opportunities to sensationalise, grabbed the chance to pounce on IITM in their vaunted mission to protect "freedom of expression".

The unlikeable likes of Arundhati Roy immediately saw red and, in a fit of clairvoyance, figured out the 'conspiracy' between the Hindu right-wing and 'greedy capitalists'. Vituperative voice was raised against the unholy nexus between neo-liberal economists and antediluvian communalists. Truth of course was a matter of little importance in their shrill argument.

As events were inching towards a finale, the Director returned from abroad and with the benefit of 'his higher wisdom' made an institutional about-turn and regretted the happenings. He was oblivious to the sinister message his action was sending to the student bodies. The message was stark and unequivocal. "Do whatever you want to do and as long as you mix your action with platitudes on casteism and communalism, you have every right not to be questioned."

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