Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Hokkolorob



Today, 24th December, 2014, students and alumni of Jadavpur University, Kolkata, are going to demonstrate their solidarity against the idiosyncratic, fascist behavior of the highest authorities.

As a token protest against the management's weird decision, they are going to refuse and surrender medals and other honors from the University, which they earned in a hard way through month's of disciplined study.




Some eminent teachers, such as Sukanta Choudhury, Ex-Professor of English, JU, and Sibaji Bandyopadhyay, Ex-Professor of Comparative Literature, JU, wrote articles in leading newspapers condemning the police attack on protesting students and the subsequent actions taken by the Vice chancellor and the Education Ministry, West Bengal.

The movement subsidized in the wake of the autumn festival, Durgapuja. However, it was revived by a fresh call from a major section of protesting students who denied to attend the yearly convocation on 24th December, unless the Vice Chancellor's actions are sufficiently condemned and punished by the higher authorities, in this case the Education Ministry. Sufficient punishment means the person's removal from the post, in this case.



This is the context, and today is 24th December.

As a result of all such events, the registrar of JU declared that no outsider would be allowed to enter the university campus without a proper visitor's card, which s/he would get at the discretion of the authority.

Are the alumni outsiders? Would the alumni association evaporate now? Nobody clearly asked this question. The question comes up because the Vice Chancellor previously pointed at the alumni of the University, calling them outsiders.

[Click this to see an interesting protest!]

Today, a large section of the alumni are in solidarity with the protesting students. And the questions that come to the surface are all related to morality.

But, my question is not moral. Even Prof Sibaji Bandyopadhyay, who instilled in us the habit of raising such questions, did not mention this clearly in his  ABP article.


                                           Image Courtesy: theguardian.com

I do not see the authority's behavior as abnormal or outrageous.

The behaviour goes perfectly in line with the purpose of education, not only in India, but anywhere anytime in the human history.

Education is a political program.

It is a political program for creating and sustaining hegemony for the current and each subsequent generations of citizens so that they follow the system in a happy manner.

The system is always in favor of stability.

In a capitalist system, stability means the worker always forgetting the urge of going back to the origin of anything. This results in the perpetuation of myths in Roland Barthe's term.

Even in a communist system, education and educational institutions run on the same program.

A framework is needed to run a system - any system. That framework is created first, mostly in unconscious ways, like a language, by the behavior of the leaders.

That basic framework renews itself in each subsequent generation and produces every other element of social relations. The technical name of this basic framework is ideology.

Antonio Gramsci has written, following and expanding Marx, at length, about how ideology works.

Althusser has written extensively to show that ideology can never be successfully challenged or thrown away.

Education is the program that installs ideology as a collective conditioning to normalize individual citizens to society.

In an unequal society, the role of educational institutions is to make naturalized followers or slaves who should obey without asking much.

And exactly this is why, I see, the University authority did not veer from their professed goal when they wanted to stamp the certificate of each convocation boycotter.

This is to show that the student has failed in his/her training program and refused to be properly hegemonized by the educational institution.

Education is a political program. This has nothing noble and sacred around it.

To call it noble or sacred would be equal to to calling politics and power noble and sacred.

Some people actually do that, however.

Education is needed. I am not denying that.

But, the political purpose of education should be clearly stated.

In India, as well as abroad, that purpose is forced to oblivion by the authorities.

I would feel happy if the current, ongoing protest by JU students bring that forgotten purpose back to the collective memory.