Only a few months ago, we celebrated the centenary of the Banaras Hindu University with great enthusiasm. Now, the university is in the midst of a turmoil. Some women students were injured in a baton charge by police during a protest against the alleged molestation of a student on the campus. The outrage on the campus has gone beyond the purported incident which could have been controlled by the authorities by taking prompt action and tactfully handling the situation.
The event has given an opportunity to women students to come out in the open and express their suppressed feelings. They now want to undo decades of attempts to stifle new different, modern ideas. They are protesting against intimidation and coercion by authorities. For weeks, the university has continued to be in the news, the media publishing reports critical of the functioning of BHU, which has tarnished the fair image of the university built by the great Madan Mohan Malaviya. He created BHU to preserve and popularise the best thoughts and culture of Hindus, all that was good in the ancient civilisation of India and to create patriots for the service of the motherland.
We, the alumni of BHU have been deeply hurt at the course of events on the campus. After Malaviya left in 1946, the university has deviated from its path. It has lost its character and become like any other university.
Indiscriminate recruitments based on caste considerations for the last few decades has brought down the standards of BHU. According to surveys conducted in 2016, the university is at the 625th position globally, 123rd in Asia and 10th in India.
The incidents of the last few weeks have forced the present vice chancellor to proceed on indefinite leave. The government has already set-up a search and selection committee to select a new VC. At this juncture, when the university is facing a crisis, what type of VC should we have? On behalf of Mahamana Malaviya Mission founded by the BHU alumni to restore the pristine glory of their alma mater and the International BHU Alumni Meets Organising Committee, I would like to bring the following facts to notice regarding the selection of the new VC.
While proposing the name of S. Radhakrishnan for the VC of BHU in 1939, Shanti Swaroop Bhatnagar had said, “The Vice Chancellor of BHU firstly must be a great Hindu. He should be a great patriot, and have an acknowledged international position.”
Malaviya had said: “It is only men who possess great courage and patience and who have developed in themselves a constant spirit of self-sacrifice, who possess undying devotion to the cause which they have understood to be great and glorious and who are torch-bearer of the future. It is only men like this who can serve an institution like the Banaras Hindu University”.
The alumni of BHU feel : “The need of the hour is to have a vice chancellor whose work in the academic sphere is unchallengeable, who is above caste considerations, who will not surrender to unjustified political pressure, from whatsoever source it may, and last but not the least who has a firm belief in the ideals of Mahamana Madan Mohan Malaviya, the founder of BHU.”
I have been associated with BHU since 1940. It is no longer the university contemplated by Malaviya. It has lost its all-India character and for several years appointments, are being made on caste consideration and not merit. Another problem is of gender sensitisation — there has been a 131 per cent increase in the number of women students from 8,000 in 2008 to 180,00 in 2017. I would strongly urge the appointment of a female VC (for the first time) and that she be from a non-Hindi speaking area to break the casteist nexus to ensure that only the most meritorious, academically accomplished person is appointed.
BHU is facing severe security problem because of the large number of women students and the unchecked entry of unruly elements from the city late in the evening. As it is not possible for an academic VC to have effective control over law and order issues, there is need of a strong academic administrator (trained from the Administrative College, Hyderabad or an IIM) to be appointed to look after the administrative problems of this large university. It is hoped the suggestions given here will be given due consideration while finalising the new vice chancellor of BHU.