Emboldened by your reputation of fair-play and justice, I most sub-mutually venture to trespass your valuable time by laying down a few lines of empathetic consideration to it. Ever since the news of inviting Narendra Modi to be the chief guest for the annual convocation ceremony spread in the varsity campus, students are in grief and anguish. There is a strong resentment among students as well as faculty members and rightly so. Freedom of speech and expression are great ideas but greater is the responsibility that comes with it, and vanity can easily take over wisdom. As you must be consciously aware of the ethos of varsity, for which it has time and again stood up and been admired for, such a decision of yours is a slap to its dignity and esteem and distortion of the varsity’s cohesive chords in the backdrop of the brazen statement given by the same man (which I find reprehensible and doesn’t befit the ex-CM of Gujarat) about our university in Gujarat in 2008 and termed our home as a breeding ground for terrorists.
This decision of yours has led to various important and legitimate questions from the student fraternity, such as the Students Union which stays banned even after clearance from the Supreme Court. On one side, you claim to be a democratic person and hold an important and reputable position in varsity and, therefore, sent an invitation to PM and, on the other hand, your same claim lies on the ground when you are questioned about the formation of a students union that is an essential part of democratic institutions of which Jamia Millia Islamia is an important pillar.
As I observed the days of strong resentment in and outside campus, questions are being raised about the credibility of management (Vice-Chancellor’s seat being used to gain political mileage) which is iffy and disturbing. The invitation to Mr. Modi can’t be looked in isolation from the intolerance and justice debate gaining height all around India as it will hurt the sentiments of students and will even raise the question about the institution per se. The VC chair like a thankless mistress, always opens her arms to another boss and then to another and cycle carries on, but what remains is the loyalty towards this seat, service to the institution that is reflected by the opinion of students and not by infrastructure.
With due respect to your claim of being a democratic person with scientific credentials and a passion for academic development, the spirit of time demands the withdrawal of the invitation to Mr. Modi lest the same will boomerang and soar in a new debate in media and academic arena. I respectfully request you to reconsider your decision and uphold the reputation of the university and put an end to likely embarrassment by rescinding the invitation. Students are and should be annoyed when the dignity of their university is at stake with the comments like “doob maro” and henceforth demand no less than an apology, and that he retract his statement, or the cancellation of the invitation.
Research scholar, JMI
Not just students and faculty members, the alumni of Jamia have also expressed their resentment in the form of an open letter. Read it here.
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