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regular-article-logo Saturday, 20 July 2024

Gujarat Vidyapith: At Mahatma Gandhi’s school, girls stopped from performing Sarva Dharm Prarthana

The Sarva Dharm Prarthana has been the Vidyapith’s tradition and part of the value system since its inception

Mehul Devkala Published 14.08.23, 06:32 AM
Portrait of Mahatma Gandhi.

Portrait of Mahatma Gandhi. Sourced by the Telegraph

The ruling dispensation’s takeover of the Gujarat Vi­d­yapith, founded by Mah­atma Gandhi, last year has started showing its true colours.

During the customary Upasana (prayer meet) on August 4, the Vidyapith’s girl students were stopped from performing Sarva Dharm Prarthana by a Hindi professor. Not only that, the girls were publicly insulted.

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A lady professor, who was present at the time, protested on the spot against such shameful behaviour of the Hindi professor. The Sarva Dharm Prarthana has been the Vidyapith’s tradition and part of the value system since its inception.

On Monday, the Vidyapith’s students held a black-ribbon protest in Gandhian way against the wilful act of stopping the Sarva Dharm Prarthana.

The project of taking over Gandhian institutes all over the country is a mission accomplished. From the demolition of Sarv Seva Sangh at Varanasi to conferring the Gandhi peace prize on the Gita Press, the scheme was very well thought out.

As the 2024 general election nears, the ruling regime’s political laboratory, that is the Gujarat government’s machinery, is in full gear. It does not have the time to take over universities one after another.

So, the Gujarat government is all set to table a common universities bill in the upcoming monsoon session of the Assembly.

Once this bill is passed and it becomes the common university act, six of the major universities of Gujarat will come under the total control of the government.

This act will pull the plug on senate and syndicate elections. There won’t be any elections, and the government will directly appoint the members of a new body called the board of governance.

The Sarva Seva Sangh complex being demolished at Rajghat, in Varanasi, Saturday, Aug. 12, 2023

The Sarva Seva Sangh complex being demolished at Rajghat, in Varanasi, Saturday, Aug. 12, 2023 PTI picture

It will spell an end to student politics in the universities of Gujarat. In addition to this, the vice-chancellor’s three-year term will be increased to five years.

Power-hungry leaders always fear student protests inside universities. Protests by students across the world have changed the course of history.

The Navnirman Andolan (1974) of Gujarat started with the student agitation on campus against the hike in the hostel food bill and it resulted in a state-wide public protest and the dissolution of the elected government.

Many political leaders came from student politics. Controlling universities means controlling the academia and students and also dictating what they study.

The proposed act will do away with the autonomy of universities. It will fully empower the government to carry out all the administrative and academic appointments.

In 2022, the Supreme Court had quashed one such appointment of the vice-chancellor of Sardar Patel University, one of the prominent universities of Gujarat, and found it contrary to the UGC’s norms.

The proposed common university act is not as simple as it looks. These universities located on prime locations in major cities of Gujarat own land worth thousands of crores of rupees.

It is feared that the government may claim these lands in the name of redevelopment and expansion in the future. The Sabarmati Ashram redevelopment project is a recent example.

“Ishwar Allah Tero Naam, Sabko Sanmati De Bhagwan” — one of the favourite Bhajans of Mahatma Gandhi — will become a thing of the past for the Gujarat Vidyapith and it should not surprise anyone. After all, nothing surprises us anymore these days.

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