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Delhi: Saffronisation Diluting Quality of Education, Say Protesting IIMC Students

Students have also been demanding improved mess meals, revocation of curfew timings and longer library hours.
Delhi: Saffronisation Diluting Quality of Education, Say Protesting IIMC Students

Indian Institute of Mass Communication Image Courtesy: Facebbok

New Delhi: A section of students of Indian Institute of Mass Communication (IIMC)the country’s premier journalism school, who have been on protest since February 3, have alleged that their demands for better meals at the mess, revoking of curfew timings and longer hours of library operations have been met with show-cause notices on frivolous grounds.

The protesting students also alleged that they were being targeted for raising questions against “saffronisation of the campus” during classes. Ashutosh Kumar, a student of PG Diploma in Hindi journalism, told NewsClick that the “course director Rakesh Upadhyay has been making a slew of disparaging comments”, including labelling (journalist) Siddique Kappan as terrorist even when the matter is sub judice. Kappan was arrested two years ago by the Uttar Pradesh Police when he was going to cover the Hathras gang-rape case.

The show-cause notice served to four students, accessed by NewsClick, read,”you have gathered an illegal assembly, defaced public property, disturbed peace, obstructed government work, indulged in cyber bullying, breached privacy of teachers and students.”

Kumar said: “It is quite apparent that the appointments in the institute in recent times have been political as teachers with affiliation to Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) were inducted to teach journalism to us. Some teachers across classes have been making unscientific claims. First, we were told that the history we learnt in our classes was wrong. That’s a debatable issue. Then, another teacher who was invited to teach health journalism, told us that reciting OM can cure cancer! Why should we not raise questions when we know it’s an unscientific claim.”

Kumar alleged that the syllabus prescribed in the prospectus had taken a back seat and most of the classes were organised in the name of “industry exposure”.

“It is quite disappointing to see these developments. I was selected for Masters in gender studies in Hyderabad Central University, LLB in Banaras Hindu University and IIMC. I decided to pursue my studies here even when the fee was not affordable. When I asked my family that they will have to pay Rs 1 lakh for my fee, they were in shock. Yet, they arranged it in the hope that I will bring good days for my family. Should I tell them that the institute is not interested in teaching anymore?” he added.

Chetna, another student, said they had been demanding decent meals and longer hours of library operations. When no attention was paid, we decided we would sit in protest. “When we told Director General Sanjay Dwivedi about this, he folded his hands to say that this action would malign the institute’s image,” she said, adding “what sort of mentality is this? It is akin to asking a girl to not to raise voice against injustice as it would malign her character. If we are demanding a decent meal, what is wrong in it? You have already dedicated 10 a.m to p.m for classes alone. The library opens till 6 p.m and the reading hall can be accessed up to 8 p.m without books. If we are asking for the library to open till midnight, what’s wrong in it?” she added.

Questionable appointments

The appointments in the institute have also landed in controversy after IIMC gave the nod to Anil Saumitra, former RSS pracharak as faculty. He has been known for abusing Mahatma Gandhi. Saumitra was sacked by the saffron party in 2019 for his comments on Mahatma Gandhi in a Facebook post in which he called Gandhi ‘Father of the nation of Pakistan’ and ‘not so deserving son of the country, according to a report in The Indian Express. He has also been in news after Maharashtra Police booked him under the SC/ST Prevention of Atrocities Act after teacher Vinay Sonule in Amravati campus alleged casteist behaviour.

The appointment of RSS sympathiser Sanjay Dwivedi too has been in question. Dwivedi reportedly does not have the required eligibilitfor the top position and he allegedly fudged documents to secure the position, as per a report in The Wire. Dwivedi allegedly showed his work experience when he was studying in Makhanlal Chaturvedi Patrakarita University.

The case against Dwivedi goes back to 2015 when he was appointed Reader in Makhanlal Chaturvedi Patrakarita University in Madhya Pradesh without obtaining PhD. Later, he was promoted to the post of professor in the university and made Vice Chancellor of the university. The matter came to light when whistleblower Pramod Mishra filed his complaint to Madhya Pradesh through a writ petition.

The University Grants Commission regulations released in 2010 mandate that a candidate, to be appointed to the post of professor, should be,”an eminent scholar with Ph.D. qualification(s) in the concerned/allied/relevant discipline and published work of high quality, actively engaged in research with evidence of published work with a minimum of 10 publications as books and/or research/policy papers and a minimum of ten years of teaching experience in university/college, and/or experience in research at the University/National level institutions/industries, including experience of guiding candidates for research at doctoral level.”

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