A Centennial Critique of Banaras Hindu University

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The Banaras Hindu University is celebrating its centennial year of foundation (as it was founded on Feb 4, 1916). Its act was passed in 1915 (Act No. XVI of 1915). It has undergone six major amendments after its original act of 1915. In size, and sculpture, it is a serene and worth seeing university. Credit of its holistic sober appearance goes to its great founder Pt. Madan Mohan Malviya Ji who is popularly known as Mahamana. Gandhi Ji used to call him as his ‘Elder Brother’. Mahamana was a true Sanatani and he believed fervently in Sanatani religious rituals. But he was more than a Sanatani when he firmly declared that he never aspired kingdom, or rebirth, or salvation but he would prefer only to eradicate the sufferings of the poorest of the poors by education. Such was the motto behind establishing this great educational institution i.e., Banaras Hindu University (initially Benaras Hindu University).

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The great patriots of the nation had been associated with the establishment of this great seat of learning (better to say, temple of knowledge). Mrs. Annie Besant author of one pamphlet on ‘Education of the Oppressed’ was one of them who founded the Central Hindu College in 1898 at Kamachha in Varanasi. The complex was the embryo of the Banaras Hindu University. The first classes and the first convocation of the University were held at Kamachha Campus, where the present famous Central Hindu Boys’ School exists. Mahatma Gandhi and Tagore were always related to the development of this university. Almost all Zamindars, princely states, raibahadurs and industrialists donated generously to the corpus fund of the university. The father of engineers, Sri Vishwaisharaiya was the technical sculptor of this university.

The trajectory of disciplines of knowledge starts with Theology and Oriental learning, Engineering, Applied and General Sciences, Arts, and Law. Teacher Education and other disciplines were also started in successive years. Presently about 150 departments are running in the main campus. There is exclusive college for girls with the name Mahila Mahavidyalaya.

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The university earlier gave affiliation to Udai Pratap College and Harischandra College, but later on, these institutions affiliated themselves with other universities. Presently, four degree / postgraduate colleges are affiliated to this university, these are DAV postgraduate college, Vasant Kanya Mahavidyalaya, Arya Mahila Degree College, and Vasanta College for Women, all situated in this city. A new campus with the name Rajiv Gandhi South Campus at Barkachha (situated at distance of 120 km in Mirazapur district) has also been started.

It is true that in shape and size, and also in diversity of streams of disciplines of knowledge, it is a unique university. Apparently Lord Vishwanath is the spiritual chancellor of this campus. Pt. Madan Mohan Malviya is the ever present guardian of the students, standing outside the main gate of the university and staring day and night at all the entrants to the campus in the form of a statue of Sanatani Acharya. Its products have been so many and so diverse that there is no proper register of records. Holistically, it is a university of universities because its six institutes viz., Indian Institute of Technology (earlier Institute of Technology, and even earliest Benares Engineering College- BENCO), Institute of Medical Sciences, and Institute of Agricultural Sciences, Institute of Science, Institute of Management Sciences, and Institute of Environment and Sustainable Development, and seven faculties as well as one Mahila Mahavidyalaya and about one dozen national level centres are existing in single campus. This university exists at Kamaccha, main campus at Lanka, and new campus at Barkachha.

Its manpower size may be estimated as more than 30000 students, 3000 teachers, more than 6000 non- teaching employees, and about 300 officers. Its quality of performance has been assessed by the National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC) as A+ Grade successively twice. In some random surveys conducted by some independent agencies, this university and its constituent institutes/ faculties have been rated number one (No.1) also. In all, its educational ethos is more than satisfactory.

This institution of national importance as mentioned in the Constitution of India is presently run on ordinance. It has been since 1969 when after the recommendations of the Gajendra Gadkar Committee, the then Vice- Chancellor Prof. A.C. Joshi, and the then Rector Pt. Hazari Prasad Dwivedi were asked to quit their offices. This was a Visitor’s Enquiry and it found a large series of irregularities in this university. This enquiry was set up on the request of the student leaders and office bearers of the students union of the Banaras Hindu University. After 1969, no government effort was made to provide a full proof BHU Act for the appreciable democratic functioning of this university. The President of India is the Visitor of this university who visits ceremonially for some rare occasions. It gives an impression as if BHU is free from corruption, manipulation, and maneuvering. The bare truth is that by suspending and suppressing the students union, the authorities and some authorities’ supporter academicians have grossly been indulged in some sort of misdoings. They have forgotten that the office bearers of the students union of the Banaras Hindu University have been assets in all the walks of public life. Politicians like Rajnarain, Jagjivan Ram, Bhisma Narain Singh, Dr. Shankar Dayal Singh, Prabhu Narain Singh and many more have been closely associated with the student activism also in this university. Not only in politics, but also in academics, they have made remarkable contribution. Recently Secretary of University Grants Commission Prof. Dr. Jaspal S. Sandhu has written a letter dated 27th May 2016 to the Vice –Chancellors of all universities and directed all universities to conduct student bodies and student union election as directed by the Hon’ble Supreme Court in its order dated 22nd September, 2006 directed that the recommendations of the Lyngdoh Committee shall be implemented and followed by all college/universities for the student elections to be held thereafter. From time to time student’s organizations raised this issue in BHU. After the formation of new government in India i.e., BJP government and PM Shri Narendra Modi elected from Varanasi constituency as MP, students again demanded for students union in the BHU in the month of October 2014 in the name of ‘Loktantra Bahali Sangarsh Morcha’ (formed by NSUI, Samajwadi Chatra Sabha, and Shaheed Bagat Singh Chatra Morcha)  and as a result on 16th  October 2014 BHU administration issued a notification to constitute the committee, which will have teachers, students, representatives of student groups and constitutional experts as its member and will hold consultations with all the stakeholders and will submit its recommendation by the end of March 2015 for consideration of Academic Council and the Executive Council. But unfortunately, this university has not obeyed the order of even the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India to hold the election of the so called ‘Students Council’ till date.

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It is disheartening to say that those who are now in ruling parties in centre and state, and who have been supporting the justification of the students unions have now ignored this issue. It is not only the matter of the Students union or Association, rather Teachers Association, Employees Association, and Officers Association, all the democratic organizations have been suspended for the last more than a decade. None is bothering for them and for the enrichment of the democratic ethos of the Banaras Hindu University. Luckily, the present Vice- Chancellor Prof. Girish Chandra Tripathi has been a teacher activist and he had been President of the Teachers Association of Allahabad University, also the President of the Teachers Association of the Central Universities of India, but after passage of his two years of his term as the VC of the BHU, nothing has been done in this direction.

The Enquiry was constituted by the MHRD to identify the irregularities and malpractices done by previous VC Dr. Lalji Singh, but till date no action has been initiated. Only students, teachers, and employees are punished for petty faults but VC after looting the university goes freely. The Visitor and legislators do not find time to see the condition of this great university which has started degenerating due to lack of vigilant observations of democratically elected unions and associations inside the campus. After 1969, no Visitor’s Enquiry has been set up. Had a Visitor’s Enquiry Committee set up, more than 1000 persons would have been behind the bar. Does BHU not require an Act to be passed for democratic composition of its Executive Council? The BHU court an apex body of the university meets only to elect the Chancellor, Hon’ble Chancellor visits the university only on the occasion of convocation and rarely on other day.

What all happened was very unfortunate but the real question is that if universities like DU, JNU or AU can have student’s union them why not the largest residential university of Asia and a central university of national importance that is the BENARAS HINDU UNIVERSITY?

ITS TIME TO THINK NOT JUST FOR THE ANSWER OF THIS QUESTION, but for those hundreds of UNSPOKEN QUESTION that need answer and justice.

ITS TIME TO ACT NOT TO FURTHER MANIPULATE AND SMOOTHEN THE SITUATION BUT TO SAVE THE SPIRIT OF STUDENTS AND THEIR ACTUAL WELFARE.

Mahamana has been conferred ‘Bharatratna’ by this government, when his grandson became the proposer in the election of the present PM. People know it, and people agree that it is not Mahamana who has been elevated rather this award has got sanctity due to Mahamana’s status is many times higher than this laurel. To make the Centennial years (of enactment and of establishment) significant and memorable, it is expected that the internal educational ethos of the university is ensured and assured for democratic and quality rich climate so as to excel in teaching, research and extension. The people of this nation are expecting to see it as the ‘nerve centre’ of the country. It had been, it is to some extent even at present, but its care by the highest authority of the nation, may pave the path of its march toward becoming a World Class University.

Author :

Kunwar Pushpendra Pratap Singh (Research Scholar)

Centre for the Study of Nepal, Faculty of Social Sciences

Banaras Hindu University, Varanasi- 221005 (UP)

Disclaimer : This article is Sole opinion of Author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Irony Of India . The writers are solely responsible for any claims arising out of the contents of this article.

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