The recent controversy over the naming of colleges as ‘Deen Dayal Upadhyay Adarsh Mahavidyalaya’ has angered a large part of the civil society in Assam with many perceiving this move as an attempt to saffronize the education system of Assam. Deen Dayal Upadhyay’s name has been prominent in the media lately as the BJP is gearing up to celebrate the 100th birth anniversary of Deen Dayal Upadhyay with great pomp and show.
The BJP under the able leadership of Sarbananda Sonowal came to power with the promise of protecting the identity of the indigenous people of Assam and uplifting the community with governance.
Himanta Biswa Sharma, the education minister declared, “All the colleges that the government will set up in the next four years would be named after Deendayal ji.” But in the land of Laxmikant Bezbaruah and Anandaram Baruah, what did Deendayal ji do for the state or its people?
On being asked the reason behind this sensational declaration, he said that these institutes of higher education “must become the centre of social resurgence.” Therefore, his ministry’s move would “start a new chapter in the education history of the state” and help Assamese students and people to study and learn about him.
Assam has its own history. A history which starts from Srimanta Shankardeva and Srimanta Madhavdeva. It also has its own art and cultural heritage which is unfortunately diminishing over time and the government is doing nothing to preserve or promote it. Kala Xatras are institutes where students can learn about various art forms like Borgeet, Ankiya Naata, Xatriya, Bhaona, etc. In the land of this beautiful art and culture, I find it hard to digest the idea of social resurgence.
Recently, Assam Engineering College, Jalukbari, a premier engineering college of Assam affiliated under the Gauhati University witnessed student protests. The protest was against its affiliation with the Assam Science and Technology University (ASTU), a state university under the government of Assam constituted by the Assam Science and Technology University Act, 2009.
The ASTU wants colleges like Assam Engineering College, Jorhat Engineering College, Jorhat Institute of Science & Technology and Bineswar Brahma Engineering College to come under their wing. ASTU was established in 2010 and does not have a repute equivalent to other notable universities.Without the consent of students, faculty and Principal, ASTU has convinced All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) to send AEC, JEC, JIST and BBEC under the ASTU. Thus to voice their cause, the students refused to attend classes until their demands are fulfilled.
From naming colleges with the quest for saffronization of the education system, to not fulfilling promises of giving an autonomous university status to prestigious institutions, the government of Assam has tough challenges to come through so that their electoral promise of good governance, sab ka anand (happiness for all) and jati-mati-bheti (community, home and hearth) sees the dawn of reality. The need of the hour is to develop a community driven society where every stakeholder must have the right to speak, and decisions must be taken with the collective consciousness rather than one man imposing his decisions on others. Else, in the pursuit of appeasing the Pandits, our society will lose intellectuals.