Delhi University Campuses Witness Growing Trend to Push RSS Ideology: Report
Image Courtesy: PTI
New Delhi: The growing presence of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) within Delhi University (DU) campuses has sparked concerns over the potential impact on academic and intellectual independence.
According to a report published in The Telegraph, on October 20, the RSS held a "shakha" or assembly at Swami Shraddhanand College, a DU-affiliated institution, to disseminate its ideology among students. A faculty member at Lakshmibai College, another DU-affiliated institution, revealed that the RSS had organised multiple shakhas on their campus since September. This trend has extended to various DU departments and colleges, with several of them inviting RSS functionaries to seminars and conferences, often due to their positions in saffron organisations.
Nandita Narain, former president of the DU teachers' association, expressed her concern over this development, describing it as a "misuse of the public university space" and a "politicisation of campuses."
One student from Shraddhanand College reported that approximately 25 students had attended the shakha, which included prayers, discussions, and various exercises. However, he couldn't provide detailed information as he hadn't personally attended the event. This college has been consistent in inviting individuals associated with the RSS and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to its official events.
For instance, on October 18, Pawan Rana, the Delhi BJP "sangathan mantri," and Shashi Yadav, the Delhi president of the Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha, were invited to the college's "Meri Mati Meri Desh" programme, which is part of a government campaign to pay tribute to freedom struggle martyrs. Furthermore, a conference titled "Svavalambee Bharat Abhiyan Ke Antargat: Udyamita Protsahan Sammelan" was organised on October 4 to encourage entrepreneurship for India's self-reliance. The Swadeshi Jagaran Manch, the RSS's economic think-tank, was represented by Deepak Sharma, Sanjay Gaur, and Rajendra Saini, along with BJP district president Satyanarayan Gautam.
Leaders of the DU unit of the RSS student arm, the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), were invited as guests to the oath-taking ceremony for the newly elected college students' union on October 16, leading to protests by students. In response to the protests, a university-level leader of the Congress student arm, the National Students' Union of India (NSUI), was also invited.
The increasing presence of the RSS and its affiliated organisations has raised concerns among students and faculty. The report quoted one student saying, "In our college, there is administrative support for the RSS and its affiliated organisations."
Suraj Yadav Mandal, a teacher at one of the colleges, emphasised that the RSS has intensified its activities within DU colleges and departments in recent years, and they are now operating more openly. He noted that posters for seminars and conferences now prominently mention RSS functionaries, complete with their designations, as guests. Faculty members, including newly recruited teachers, are often required to attend these sessions.
At Lakshmibai College, where RSS shakhas are conducted, some faculty members are reported to join the sessions, indicating the extent of RSS's influence.
In April, Delhi University organised a program on the Panchang (a Hindu calendar and almanack) and Indian traditional knowledge in light of the National Education Policy 2020. The chief guest was introduced on the poster as Ramlal, holding the designation of the all-India communications chief of the RSS.
Narain, acknowledging that experts and government officials may be invited to universities, regardless of their political affiliations, emphasised that this should be done based on their qualifications and expertise rather than their political associations.
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