Your correspondent sees many pitfalls and silver linings in the actions and reactions exhibited on 14.03.2014 when the administration in its wisdom decided to tell all students to vacate the premises to curb celebration of Holi “in and around campus”. Your correspondent attempts to take a dispassionate view of the situation. In terms of biases, your correspondent is a moderate polemic who detests Holi and is wholly sympathetic towards the objective sought to be achieved by the Notice. The methods adopted were obviously misguided.
I shall not waste my time and yours by detailing out what the Holi Notice laid out. Needless to say, the language used in the notice seemed heartless, cruel and misguided. The University Authorities in their wisdom thought that the only way to stop inconvenience caused to female students (amongst other things) was to throw every student out of the hostels. I shall not attempt to insult your intelligence and mine by rationalizing it. But here are a few thoughts that came to my mind.
Mind your language: Some of the words and phrases used in the notice (“in and around campus”, “if for some emergency some students cannot leave the campus” etc.) seemed to suggest that the students had been taken for granted. The language used in the notice was laughable in terms of what the Authorities believed to be the extent for their control over the students. The sheer language of the Notice was infuriating. The Notice is a sad reminder what the Authorities think they can say or do recklessly. The Authorities would be better placed to use more humble words and phrases when they address students next time.
Student’s Welfare Committee: I am overjoyed at the fact that there were internal rumblings in the SWC on how to tackle the situation. There were certain “hardliners” and “moderates” in the SWC. May I suggest to the moderates who were trying to work around the situation by signing the names of people who wished to stay that, they were working within a framework of idiocy? There is a difference between being “moderate” and “obsequious”. The later trait was demonstrated by signing up people and attempting to work within the standards set by our beloved Authorities. Quoting a friend of mine who is revered for his lack of eyebrows (not bollocks mind you!),
“…the ideal response that the SWC should have is that it should be arguing against the absolutely bizarre notice rather than facilitate it’s idiocy”
The SWC’s initial reaction was quite unnecessarily deferential. I don’t see how their pragmatic principles were to help us in a bizarre situation. I hope that they indulge in a bit of introspection as a committee on how they want to function in the future. My complaint against the “hardliners” comes next.
Immaturity at its worst: There remain many students (including my batch mates) who seem to be, quoting myself, “literate yet utterly uneducated”. Some of my peers (and indeed me occasionally) forget that we are not entitled to anything and hence must engage to attain rights they don’t come for free. Playing Holi outside the canteen during the Tea Break is a bizarre way (albeit honest) to demonstrate your lack of faculties to comprehend student welfare. If I was in the SWC, I would not have been so tolerant of these intellectual pygmies with the sense of “right or wrong” resembling that of a RSS/Jamaat-ud-Dawa/Shiv Sena activist. I must state that these immature elements of the student body are the best case against excessive student empowerment. They were dangerously close to breaking down negotiations between SWC and the Authorities. Lucky for them, SWC members did not take the moral high ground to turn them in. A few water balloons cannot be allowed to sully a legitimate student body demand. I am firmly of the opinion that the SWC hardliners were being hypocritical in not turning these elements in.
Engage, moderate, deliberate, cooperate: Some of the emails sent by the students were disappointing. They ought to have been more measured in terms of their responses. I sincerely believe that words like “bull something” or Nazi posters are a little over blown and can be termed as “knee-jerk” at best. I personally believe that students ought to “learn how to engage” (quoting a favourite professor of mine) as opposed to trivialize issues or debates. Such emails were disheartening as they came from otherwise sane individuals.
“Times, there are a’changing”- A positive take of the entire episode was there the campus seems to be more questioning of Authority decisions. This is a welcome change. I would personally congratulate the junior batches to be more “rebellious” than their seniors. However, channelizing reactions intelligently is certainly a problem with the NLUD student body. The jury is still out on whether one needs a Union to do it. I do not.