Published: 17th April 2018
Stop trying to make JNU a gurukul: Students trash new pundit training courses
The proposal is yet to be approved at the academic council meeting but because most opposing voices have been asked to resign, there is little hope that the proposal will be stalled
They say it's always good to have a degree to fall back on even if you want to pursue a creative or offbeat career. But soon Hindu priests can say that they are JNU-trained pundits on their resumes. The School of Sanskrit and Indic Studies is now launching courses to enable students to get training to be pundits, experts in religious tourism and Vaastu Shastra. Also, a course on yoga. How can one forget yoga.
The department has come up with this new proposal in order to make Sanskrit a more "employable" option for the students. The proposal was first made on February 23 in a School Coordination meeting but the students only heard about it when it came out in the news and a large number of them are not happy.
"Is the administration trying to establish a gurukul on campus? Again, they are trying to arbitrarily change the rules and departments. This is not a religious institution, we cannot be teaching students the Vedas and how to become priests. Sanskrit should be studied like a language like several other languages. Upper caste Hindus will only use this course to promote casteism on campus," said a student union member.
"The administration is focussing on saffronizing the campus when they should be engaging with students on issues of seat cut and reservation points. They have to respond to why entrance exam centres were canceled in Jammu and Kashmir and Sikkim? The University has shut its doors to minorities, there is a section of society that sees no hope of even studying at JNU because of their latest policies, instead of that they are focussing on training priests," she added.
Successive protests: The students and the administration have been at loggerheads for while now and the former is not pleased with this new proposal
The very idea of this course goes against the constitution and goes against the ideals of JNU, says T Praveen, a member of the BAPSA party on campus. "We don't have a course in Anthropology or comparative literature or philology. We don't even have courses on a lot of the Indian languages. Forget languages, even our science schools are lacking in basic courses. So why are we not concentrating on setting up branches like these? We are researchers and our research is supposed to serve the society in some way. We can critically analyze Hinduism and study it even though I do think there is already enough commentary on the religion but what sort of university trains priests?" he questioned.
The proposal will only be implemented if it gets approved at the academic council which will have student participation but the students still don't hold much hope that their views will be considered, "In the last few meetings, decisions have just been taken with no regard for our arguments. Proposals get passed without any approval. Now it's even worse, anyone who has ever raised their voices against this saffronisation has been thrown out of their positions," a union member said.
Only recently, several deans and chairpersons of various departments had been asked to step down from their positions for speaking up against the decision to have mandatory attendance for the students," Not that they listened to us before but now there are no voices that will oppose them. They've been asked to leave. They are no progressive, liberated people in the room. Now we have people who will only clap on when they present this proposal at the meeting. So there is little hope," the student union member said.