This post has been self-published on Youth Ki Awaaz by Youth Ki Awaaz. Just like them, anyone can publish on Youth Ki Awaaz.

Is An RSS Takeover Looming Large Over Banaras Hindu University?

More from Youth Ki Awaaz

By Anand Singh

It may sound naive to quote a clichéd adage at the very beginning of this article, but since this is the only way I can stress my point without frittering away its meaning, I shall go ahead with it. ‘Universities and colleges in India have always been the nursery of future politicians in our country.’ The statement becomes even more contextual when we speak of varsities like Banaras Hindu University which were set up at the pinnacle of the freedom movement. The University has come a long way since then, from being a basket producing MPs (more than 120 MPs in the first Parliament hailed from BHU), the University has transmogrified visibly into a macabre experiment ground for RSS’s sectarian politics and for furthering its deeply chauvinist agenda.

banaras hindu university

BHU has, for some reason, been a deeply fortified saffron bastion. The student politics within the campus is dominated largely by the activists of Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) who take great pains in declaring their allegiance to the Sangh Parivar, every single time. Their nearest rival, NSUI (National Students Union of India) is heavily outnumbered when it comes to the strength of the party cadres. There were efforts to pump some blood into the body of the Student’s Federation of India during the period 2011-13 by some enthusiastic members of the party, but to no avail.

What is deeply unsettling though is the imminent possibility of an RSS takeover of the campus looming large over the entire discourse. The department of Political Science under the Faculty of Social Sciences stands as the fitting epitome of this menacing threat. The incumbent Head of the Department Prof. Kaushal Kishor Mishra takes pride in declaring allegiance to the extremist right-wing group in front of his entire class. During the course of the previous year’s election campaign in Varanasi, he was out on bail after an FIR was registered against him for allegedly inciting the crowd for attacking the controversial AAP leader Somnath Bharti.

Moreover, there is hardly any space for any form of political dissent in this central university. The ideological space within which fruitful discussions are supposed to take place has shrunk to become so infinitesimally narrow that it has now become difficult to breathe.

Meanwhile, these ABVP activists are known to be key rowdy elements within the varsity campus, and scuffles between them and the dissenting groups are frequent. Not for nothing did veteran Congress leader Madhusudan Mistry blamed the November 20-21 (2014) violence in BHU as being orchestrated by the RSS. One may also recall the unsavoury incident in which Raghu Ram and Gul Panag were threatened with bamboo sticks when they were out canvassing for AAP in the campus. That those who ran murderously after the duo were factotums in service of the saffron party was claimed by the victims themselves.

Morning Shakhas (masquerading euphemistically under the guise of physical fitness exercises) are organized at intermittent intervals at some of the playgrounds on the sprawling campus, chiefly at the one in front of the BIRLA hostel of the Arts faculty. Students in amazingly large numbers are seen wielding lathis with surprising dexterity. One need only take a stroll around the inner hostel arc on such eventful mornings to sniff the air permeated with the fissiparous agenda of the Parivar.

Ever since Prof G.C. Tripathi assumed position of Vice-chancellor, several senior RSS ideologues including the likes of Dattatreya Hosbole and RSS sah sarkaryavah Dr. Krishna Gopal are officially invited to BHU, in addition to the local RSS functionaries. Dr. Gopal also unveiled a special edition of RSS’s official mouthpiece Panchjanya in BHU on the occasion of Dr. Ambedkar’s birth anniversary. Such is the audacity and collusion of the authorities with the saffron brigade that now hardly anyone appears to notice this grave anomaly, or the concerned people willingly choose to turn a blind eye towards such happenings. It appears, quite clearly, that they have their agenda written clearly on their to-do list.

I have my own inane logic, which you are welcome to refute in a healthy manner, for every political activity which rages inside the campus. Varanasi is still a deeply feudal society, and on top of it all it is often dubbed as the holiest of the seven holy Hindu cities. Ring any bells, eh? What everyone fails to see is the narrow film of retrograde feudalism and nuanced patriarchy within which the Hindu University of Banaras is forced to exist. Such conditions provide for an excellent breeding ground for RSS and its associate groups.

The popular clarion call among the students of the varsity goes like this: “Mahamana ki kaamna, sadbhaavna sadbhaavna” (Malviyaji wished for nothing else than comity and fraternity). I seriously doubt whether the founder himself would’ve found it pleasant enough to be at one with the prevalent truth.

Also read: How A Strong Alternative Changed The Face Of Regional Politics At Aligarh Muslim University

Take campus conversations to the next level. Become a YKA Campus Correspondent today! Sign up here.

You must be to comment.
  1. aishwarya prakash

    I have to say that you have presented some very accurate points here.

    I would like to quote an instance related to the political science department here.

    Earlier this year a seminar on “Modi’s foreign policy” was conducted in the department. It was a highly dissatisfying one as it turned out to be nothing more than a congregation of people sitting together solely for the purpose of midlessly praising any and all aspects of the govt. Policies in presence of emminent politicians from the BJP. Any genuine questions from the students,aiming at making the discussion more objective were duly ignored. It really was a sad state!

  2. pankaj

    Think about the name of Rajiv Gandhi South Campus,B.H.U.,which may be known as B.H.U. South Campus.It is also an insult to Malviya G & his sacrifice..

More from Youth Ki Awaaz

Similar Posts

By shreya ghosh

By Kritika Nautiyal

By Priyasmita Dutta

Wondering what to write about?

Here are some topics to get you started

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

Sign up for the Youth Ki Awaaz Prime Ministerial Brief below