Monday, 30th October 2017

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Professor's glare on instruments of unrest

Sukanta Chaudhuri, professor emeritus at Jadavpur University, told a gathering of teachers on Friday that he had noticed a tendency of the state and the Centre "to create unrest in the leading institutions".

By Subhankar Chowdhury
  • Published 28.07.18
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Sukanta Chaudhuri at Rajabazar Science College on Friday. Picture by Bishwarup Dutta

Rajabazar: Sukanta Chaudhuri, professor emeritus at Jadavpur University, told a gathering of teachers on Friday that he had noticed a tendency of the state and the Centre "to create unrest in the leading institutions".

Chaudhuri was speaking at the Dibyendu Pal Memorial Lecture, organised by the Calcutta University Teachers' Association at Rajabazar Science College, on the topic "Importance of autonomy and democratic governance in university".

"A bichitra prabanata (strange tendency) is visible, be it the state or the Centre. Those that are leading and successful institutions, they are under the special watch of the authorities.... The authorities happily live with violence, disruption, wrongdoing, corruption and misgovernance in other institutions. They don't see any wrong in trivialising those instances or in denying that these actually happened. The leading intuitions I am talking about, they also face unrest, although the trigger and nature of trouble is different."

The Oxford-educated professor of English said the state had the propensity to push these institutions towards an "inevitable academic decline".

"It seems the state authorities somehow flare up the seeds of that unrest by (imposing) some autocratic and injudicious decision that creates trouble. They try to disrupt the balance of these institutions. At the same time, they create a negative perception in the minds of the people towards those institutions. What do people see? They see that in a certain institution, there is so much unrest. Not only are students creating trouble, the teachers are also participating and (they opine) that this is not desirable," he said.

Chaudhuri mentioned JNU, but did not once refer to Jadavpur University directly.

The recent unrest at Jadavpur University over the attempt to scrap undergraduate entrance tests in line with the government's view had also elicited a response from Chaudhuri. "If the state government wants to decimate a system the state's best university has been following, and doing well, they have to explain the reason why they want to decimate it. Let them explain what good will come out of it," he said.

Entrance tests in six arts subjects were retained after a 90-hour hunger strike by students and an unprecedented revolt by teachers.