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A Publication
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Derecognition Of Ambedkar – Periyar Study Circle In IIT Madras Undemocratic

By Ambedkar – Periyar Study Circle

29 May, 2015

We, Ambedkar – Periyar Study Circle (APSC), an independent student body of IIT Madras (IITM) has been derecognized by the Dean of Students (DoS), on 22.05.2015 stating that we have misused the privileges given by IITM. It was later informed that the move is based on a letter from MHRD undersigned by the Under Secretary to the government of India.

Ambedkar – Periyar Study Circle was created as an independent student body on 14th April 2014, by a group of students from IITM to promote Ambedkar – Periyar thoughts and to initiate debates on socio-economic-political and cultural impacts which affects common mass within academic fraternity. The student of IITM has a dictum of using APSC as a platform for the above mentioned issues. As IITM has a long history of being a platform for right wing groups alone to propagate their own ideology and train young minds for their intellectual wings through Vivekananda Study Circle, RSS Shakha, Hare Rama Hare Krishna, Vande matram, Dhurva etc...

With this motto, in the past one year, we organized Hall meets, Movie Screening and phamplet distribution among students and ignited debates on issues like: Agriculture under threat – Coal bed Methane project, GM Crops – Impact on Agriculture, Factory disputes act 1947 (Amendment) and creating devastating effect on the labour conditions, Language Politics in India: past and present based on Sanskrit week celebrations, MHRD’s overt attempt to have separate vegetarian mess halls in IITs and IIMs and IITM administration’s move in replacing the name board of the faculties and laboratories with Sanskritized Hindi. We celebrated the birthdays of Bhagat Singh and Ambedkar and organized talks on ‘Understanding Bhagat Singh’ and Contemporary relevance of Dr. Ambedkar’. (For more information check our facebook page -Ambedkar periyar study circle IITmadras)

Though the platform created a space for the students of IITM to discuss and debate on issues directly affecting the peasants, labours and the common mass, APSC continuously faced threats from rightwing groups inside IITM. Even the administration tried to curtail the activities of APSC, in June 2014, the DoS Dr.M.S.Sivakumar directed us to change name stating that the names ‘Ambedkar and Periyar’ are politically motivated and thus the study circle should be renamed with some apolitical titles without any personolity’s name. APSC took stubborn decision to stick with the same title. We also indicated, the activities of right wing groups under the banner of Vivekananda Study Circle, but the Dean of Student’s said they have been using the name (Vivekananda) for many years and he denied to change the name of "Vivekananda study circle". For a second time in September 2014, he sent a mail for the same reason, through MITR (the general counseling unit for students run by IITM admin) rather than from Dean’s office stating that the name is polarising the students. We clearly explained the Dean, the motto of the study circle and relevance of Ambedkar and Periyar’s name.

In this scenario, APSC celebrated Ambedkars birth anniversary and its first anniversary in April 2015 by organizing a talk on “contemporary relevance of Dr. Ambedkar”. Pamphlets were issued, on the basis of how communalism and corporatism are being the two sides of a single coin which is tossed by the present government against the common mass. The pamphlet contents were referred from leading magazines, newspapers and writings of Ambedkar.

After this event, the above mentioned mail from Dean came on 22nd may 2015. , it particularly states that “because of the misuse of the privileges” given to your study circle (Ambedkar-Periyar study circle) as an independent student body, your student body is de-recognized by the institute. However it does not contain any details regarding the privileges misused by the APSC.

Based on the email, when we met Dean Students he gave a letter from MHRD with a subject matter " Distribution of contorversial posters and phamplets in the campus and creating hatred atmosphere among the students by one of the student group namely Ambedkar Periyar" and forwarded a copy of the complaint sent by the RSS students in IIT. The anonymous complaint letter - as mentioned by the Under Secretary himself states that "APSC is trying to de-align the ST, SC students and trying to make them to protest against MHRD and Central government and trying to create hatred against honorable prime minister and Hindus". Based on this complaint and MHRD letter, the Dean of students charge APSC that it misuses the privileges given by them and derecogonise APSC.

We resent the fact that the Dean has de-recognized our study circle unilaterally without giving us a fair hearing and an opportunity to represent ourselves. In our face to face interaction with the Dean of Students, we have been told that our study circle engages in “controversial activities” and violated the code of conduct of independent student bodies. We are clear on the stand that we have not misused any privileges given by the institute. So far our activities are engaged with the healthy discussion on socio-economic issues on scientific basis to promote the scientific temper among the student which is allowed by the Indian constitution. We have not been given a satisfactory definition of what entails “controversial”. Further, we were asked to give assurances that we shall desist from such activities in the future before the Dean (Students) can allow us to restart our activities. We have also been asked to route all our activities through the Dean's office rather than the usual practice of routing all our discussions, plan of activities and pamphlets through our faculty adviser. This excessive scrutiny is unprecedented and does not apply to any other students’ organization. Vis-à-vis this move of DoS clearly shows, only opinions put forth by the right wing group will get the consent to see the light of the day, while the voices and opinion of the democratic students like us will be curtailed hereafter.

Our discussions, meetings and pamphlets are meant to kick start a discussion within the campus among the academic fraternity. The issues that we discuss are very important and define the way we live our lives. IITM is a public funded higher education institute, whose vision and mission should abide for the upliftment of the common mass, who is the taxpayers. Rather, the move from DoS, IITM says there is no space for such opinions and discussions.

We strongly believe that what we stated in our pamphlets and content of our discussion is correct as per the Constitution. Therefore, action against the Ambedkar-Periyar Study Circle by the DoS, IITM is undemocratic and unilateral against the interest of common mass for whom the Institute itself is indebted; hence we are not accepting this decision taken by the Institute.

Voltaire told "I do not agree with what you have to say, but I'll defend to the death your right to say it." We need a democratic space in academic fraternity to debate on matters that affect the common mass which feed us


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