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

I’ve Been With Christ Uni. For Over 47 Years, And Here’s What I Have To Say About It

By Joseph Eden:

There are a host of educational institutions in the world; some run by individuals, others run by a group of people, some run by philanthropists, some run by business men. But one group of institutions stand out – they are called missionary institutions. You can find a missionary institution run by every religious group – Hindus, Muslims, Buddhists, Christians and many others. They have a mission; their mission is to impart literacy and thereby empower the masses.

Missionary institutions are not primarily meant for catering to the elites of the society. The elites have all the means to empower themselves – mainly by their wealth. Missionary institutions focus on the less privileged silent majority.

The privileged minority who enjoy all the comforts in life often become very vocal and aggressive when their comfort zone becomes even slightly impacted.

The less privileged majority on the other hand is always a silent sufferer and spectator.

Coming to the point –

I have been associated with Christ University for the past 47+ years. I have seen the growth of this institution from within. I have witnessed the struggles and troubles undergone by these CMI missionaries from very close quarters. The institution has stood the test of time.

Today the institution has carved a niche for itself in the educational landscape regionally, nationally and internationally. It was only possible because of its standard of excellence on all fronts. For any institution to survive, flourish and rise to the expectation of its stake holders, self discipline is paramount.

So the institution has drawn up a set of guidelines and rules. These are to be followed by the privileged and the less privileged alike. These rules and regulations were not drawn for the sadistic pleasure of somebody. By following these every stakeholder stands to benefit.

A student joins an institution by their choice; not by force – certainly not from the institution. When they join, they are required to be familiar with the nature of that institution – its origin, philosophy, infrastructure, rules and regulations, its strengths and weaknesses and all aspects in totality. So it is reasonably assumed that a student who joins an institution has taken a well informed decision before joining. They therefore, become a member of the family – in this case the Christite family.

Having joined, if they find that the institution is not of their choice, they have every freedom to quit. On the contrary, having become the member, if they are unwilling to accept and respect the rules and regulations, it is only very unbecoming of the person.

Take the case of a bullet being fired from a gun. The bullet has to first pass through a very narrow bore of the barrel. It undergoes enormous friction, discomfort, heat, tension, and propulsion in the constrained environment. But when it comes out of the barrel it is focused and ready to strike the target. If the bullet refuses to go through the barrel where will it reach?

The youth, due to their sparse worldly experience and copious hormonal thrust may not comprehend the germaneness of the rules and regulations. They may be pardoned. But what pains me most is the attitude of their parents. The parents who are supposed to be experienced in life, mature and role models miserably fail in their duty.

On YKA, one parent takes pride in announcing that her daughter is ‘drop out from Christ’. She explains that she voluntarily pulled her daughter out because of the stricter rules there.

Another student regrets that the institution did not allow a 20 year old [‘mature’] girl student to take to alcoholism. She was only drinking outside the college.

One student who had the privilege of spending majority of his life abroad and who has authored a book rues that he is not granted special privileges. He expects the institution to allow him to market his talents outside the campus during class hours.

Many parents object to the dress code and the 85% attendance mandate. Their argument is that the students are above 18 years and have voting rights and therefore their freedom ought to be respected.

An educational institution is neither a fashion arena nor a theatre, nor are the students theatre goers to allow them to walk in and walk out in any attire at any time. A college/university is a sacred place where pursuit of wisdom takes place; it demands its own sanctity.

The point to be noted here is that all people who voiced their dissent are the privileged minority. The underprivileged majority have no complaints at all. They get much more than what they bargained for in the precincts of this institution. They are either indifferent or timid to express their displeasure at the sporadic outbursts from their privileged peers.

The university has 12000+ students on roll. Is it necessary and possible to bend the rules 12000+ times to suit each one of the student’s needs?

The university does have 85% attendance mandate; in order to ensure appropriate class room interaction. But it does make condonance for genuine extra/co-curricular participation.

It is human nature to ignore positives and project negatives.

No one talks about the lakhs of rupees spent by the institution annually on social responsible activities, scholarships, self employment, zero waste management, environmental activism etc.

No one talks about the superb infrastructure provide to the students.

No one talks about the emphasis laid on value based programmes like moral education classes, availability of counsellors etc.

No one talks about the safety and security of the students ensured through the ever vigilant squad of security men in and around the campus.

Dear parents, please play the role of parents conscientiously. Stop being the financiers and being pampering only to your children. Your child does not want a friend in you.They have plenty of them outside home. What they need is your guidance, support and encouragement even when he is not able to measure up to your expectations. You have the responsibility of bringing up your children emotionally strong; not just academically and materially strong.  Emotional intelligence is much more important than the informational/ intellectual intelligence.

Just pause to think why so many youngsters are taking away their lives for so trivial issues- being scolded at home or by teachers in the college, not being given enough pocket money, not getting a bike or phone, failing to get decent academic scores, failing in relationships. All because of material wants.

Who put the idea into their heads that the material security is superior to emotional security?

Parents introspect and see how often you have a family spiritual experience. Do you come together as a family daily for spiritual strengthening? Spirituality and religiosity are two different things. Spirituality is internalised while religiosity is affected piety. We are all good at religiosity. We are only happy to perform prayers and rituals.

Spirituality is more sublime. Discuss the values and ethical behaviours with your children. Teach them that the material possessions are not the be all and end all. Be a role model, please!

Every day, parents take their children in their bikes or cars to the school/colleges. Very often one notices that the parents break the traffic rules with impunity. They jump the signals, overtake on the wrong side, ride without helmets, drive without seat belts, go in the opposite direction on a ‘one way’ and honk impatiently.

Have you ever thought that the child sitting with you is watching and subconsciously imbibing all these?

Is there any wonder that this child when grows up shows scant respect for rules and regulations?

Today 50% of Indian population is between 5-20 age group. By 2026 it is estimated that India will have 64% of its population below 35 years of age [highest in the world].

I shudder to think of an India in the hands of citizens, who have scant respect for rules; who are materially possessive and emotionally bankrupt.

God save the nation.

In any case, the outbursts on YKA have done one good thing. Its readers now know what to expect from the Christ University. The ones who cannot appreciate the university’s norms may well keep off from its gates. The others can heave a sigh of relief.

You must be to comment.
  1. Tarika Ninette Shastry

    Dear Sir, it is indeed unsurprising to note that your article follows the tone and intent of true Christ management in its present state. Unsurprising but not heartening.

    I’d like to offer my copiously hormonal and immature opinion on some of the matters you have brought up in your post, if I may.

    To begin with, positioning Christ University as a servant to society and existing to cater to the underprivileged is hardly an excuse for running an educational institution much like a fiefdom. I would even go as far as to say that by bringing this up to defend the current management policies and practises rather seems like Christ University is taking advantage of the ‘underprivileged’ students in that the management is using their dependency and vulnerability to push what it deems right down their throats. “You are underprivileged, we are giving you an opportunity you could never have dreamed of, therefore you had best accept our authority without any questioning”. That is what seems to be the predominant flavour of this point. Having said that, I do not debate that Christ University invests not just materially but emotionally in several CSR initiatives and encourages its students to do the same.

    Secondly, insinuating that anybody who voices an opinion against a practice at Christ University is a rich, privileged pampered brat who needs to be taught spirituality is textbook dictatorial. Only serving to reinforce what many have pointed as a gaping hole in the philosophy and management of Christ University.

    I was not forced to join Christ University and I did not quit halfway through- these are not reasons enough to keep students from voicing opinions against the management. In fact, it begs to ask the question- why is the management persistently shying away from accepting, considering and debating constructive criticism? Oh. I apologise. It slipped my mind that this criticism would only be coming from erratic, hormone-driven, privileged and unspiritual teenyboppers. It’s rather surprising how many of them are in Christ University, by the looks of the recent social media outcry.

    I did enjoy and relate to your comparison of Christ University with the barrel of a gun, however. High levels of metaphorical heat, discomfort and tension are indeed what students are put through at Christ University and I cannot argue that it hasn’t made me a more patient, tolerant and accepting person. But I’m sure there are better ways of fostering strong characteristics in students.

    I can assure you sir, having grown up in a strict and discipline-centric boarding school my whole life, I have an unquestionable faith and appreciation for rules and regulations. And yet those imposed by Christ University phase me. In the interest of time, I’d appreciate a logical answer to just this one question- I’ve been hearing and reading reiterations on how the dress code at Christ University serves to ensure discipline and prepares you for the professional world (and though this logic too is severely flawed, let’s put it aside for now). Why is it, then, that women are not allowed to wear western formals (not including the uniform for some courses)? The professional world is rather accepting of women in trousers. Yet Christ University doesn’t seem to be.

    Additionally, I implore you to read literature that differentiates recreational drinking of alcohol from alcoholism. Besides, I might be overly hormonal and radical in saying this- but I do believe that a student can have a life of his/her own outside of the university without its judgement raining down on them even when off campus.

    I was most disappointed, however, (but not at all surprised) that your comprehensive and morally loaded post did not stray anywhere near the several reports of sexual harassment incidents that have risen withing the university. Or was it implicitly addressed with your blanket labeling of all students as being hormonal and immature?

    Whilst you, sir, may be shuddering thinking of the plight of the future of our country in the hands of today’s youth (a view that would alarm some who read of your long-standing relationship with an institution dedicated to honing and cultivating the very population you are wary of), many of us shudder thinking of the present.

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Find out more about her campaign here.

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