Monday, August 23, 2010

Bending Over Backwards

(I put this notice up on the NLSIU notice board, on  facebook and also mailed it to the students and faculty of NLSIU on 14th August, when Mr Rahul Gandhi was supposed to visit NLS. After and even before meeting Mr Gandhi, I really liked his way of doing things, vis-a-vis other politicians, and hence the following post is not targetted at him, but at the NSLIU Administration. Ultimately, all that I had predicted in this post came true, but I will deal with that in another post).

Why I don't like the way the NLSIU Administration is handling His Highness Rahul Gandhi's visit to NLSIU

While this might seem like a party pooper in the atmosphere ofimposed festive[1]mood in law school, I think we are not asking a very fundamental question.  Why is His Highness Rahul Gandhi, PrimeMinister/Congress Party head in waiting /scion of the Dynasty, being allowed toaddress the students of NLSIU in the present manner? And why is theAdministration going out of its way to organize the "talk"?
Well, we've been told that Mr Gandhi wants to talk to the youth ofthe country, and wants to inspire them to join politics and help in nationaldevelopment, hence he is in NLSIU, and because he such an important person,hence the elaborate and unusual arrangements. That sounds fair enough. Butactually it isn't. Is the administration unaware that if Mr Gandhi will talkabout joining politics or any other issue, he'll directly or indirectly beasking students to do so by joining NSUI (Congress' Student Wing)? Even if hismere presence makes students to join NSUI and support the Congress, doesn't itstill amount to campaigning for a political party (albeit with power to getmoney sanctioned for NLS).
When was the last time the administration spent so much money onsprucing up the campus and setting up the talk venue in the quad for a political party leader, whodoes not hold any constitutional post apart from being an MP? As far as I know,never. In fact, in the last one year itself, not even the Chief Justice ofIndia, BCI President, UGC Chairperson, Governor of Karnataka, the Union LawMinister have been given such a privilege, with the University Administration bendingover backwards.
It is strange that in an University where a candidate running forthe office bearers' post can be disqualified for "bringing in party politics through student mass organisations/front"[2], theadministration has allowed a political party's General Secretary to come talkto students, and subtly bring in party politics in our campus. And though onemay argue he may never talk about joining NSUI or supporting the Congress, hismere presence will be a campaign for the Congress Party and NSUI, which isproblematic.
What is even more shocking is the way in which the administration isgoing out of their way to please him by spending lakhs on the organisation ofthe function, prescribing dress codes (Ethnic wear only), issuing guidelinesabout questions to be asked and what not (as inappropriate questions may"harm" the reputation of the institution) and probably selecting whowill ask what questions. Will they do the same if the BJP Youth WingPresident/General Secretary or from Communist Party of India -Marxist or BahujanSamaj Party comes to generally talk/ inspire students to join politics (andsubtly builds support for BJP and Akhil Bhartiya Vidyarthi Parishad/ CPI-M & Student Federation of India etc, justas His Highness is doing for his party)? Possibly not. And even if they doallow it will still be not the right thing at the first place.
If the university administration really wants us to get inspired tojoin politics, then possibly the charade of non-political elections for Officebearers, including for Activity Based Committees and Class representative post,must be removed, and NSUI, ABVP, SFIshould be allowed to come recruit students, campaign, holddemonstrations/strikes/dharnas, haveturf wars and pitched battles in our campus, because that is what this would leadto, even if the Administration may not want it.
I personally seem to like His Highness, but that is my personalopinion, but making decisions for a University on the basis of a personalopinion is a serious matter, and strikes at the heart of non-partisan nature ofNLSIU. I would be attending the "talk", though without following the diktat ofthe dress code and without following any subtle gag orders to ask questionskeeping in mind "the reputation of NLSIU"without "any personal questions, personalagenda's or remarks".[3] Ihope a few others could do the same.
This is nothing but a wrong move and a dangerous precedent. This isa damaging trend that is about to start, and I am sad it is happening in lawschool.

[1] Given thedecorations, arrangements and imposed dress code for His Highness' visit.
[2] SBA Constitution:
Article 8, Clause (e)- Any member of an ABC shall not be eligibleto stand for the posts of President or Vice-President if he/she has been.-
1. found guilty of serious misconduct by the University;
2. found to be politicizing theSBA in terms of bringing in party politics either through student massorganizations /fronts or through any other means having a similar effect.
[3] From theemail conveying the VC's instructions.