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Monday, September 21, 2009

Playing Devil's advocate for Banaras Hindu University

Banaras Hindu University is an internationally reputed temple of learning, situated in the holy city of Varanasi. This Creative and innovative university was founded by the great nationalist leader, Pandit Madan Mohan Malviya, in 1916 with cooperation of great personalities like Dr Annie Besant, who viewed it as the University of India.

Recently, The South Campus of the Banaras Hindu University is attempting to become the first carbon neutral (rate of emission and absorption of carbon being equal) university campus in the country, with a massive plantation drive of 1.76 lakh saplings on 400 acres of land under National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA) Scheme in the region. Already BHU has placed a ban on Coke and Pepsi on campus. They are the positive aspects of the development and more can be found out here.

These are good news but now I will embark our journey to some 'negative items' unknown in mainstream media. I often quote the Spanish born American philosopher, George Santayana, ''Those who do not remember their past, will be condemned to repeat it.” Hence remembering some forgotten chapters is indeed needed.

There is always a feeling that BHU is doing the country a great favor by its existence in the profit making education system. Nice trees & old buildings with great names attached to them is the first thing you notice when you come to BHU, Varanasi. It is an oasis of greenery in a desert of narrow, crowded and ill equipped infrastructure of Varanasi. Another thing one notices is the number of people from U.P. & Bihar here, which is close to despairingly high in student's population. Special section of North east, Nepal and foreign students are there, still an environment of national university is missing.

1- Once upon a time, BHU also had stand for “Banaras Hooligan's University" for its university election politics. Sandeep Pandey, Ramon Magsaysay award winner and alumnus of the Institute of Technology at the Banaras Hindu University (IT-BHU), says: "As a Banaras Hindu University student with a rosy picture of politics as an instrument of social change, I had run for the post of representative of the university’s Institute of Technology in 1985. It was a shocking experience: the candidates for the posts of president, vice-president and general-secretary asked me to align with them on the basis of a common caste, and they offered me access to any movie in town — and also liquor, if needed, for students who could pledge their votes. Having won the election, I attended the first few meetings of the union. They left me disillusioned for life about Indian electoral politics."

For full report, read in detail.

2- Oct 06 , 2007 News Item, Cast Color to Varsity Blues: " Rajesh Kumar Mishra, Congress MP from Varanasi, is leading a campaign against casteism at his alma mater Banaras Hindu University (BHU), alleging that its Vice-Chancellor Dr Panjab Singh has appointed Rajputs to all important posts and new recruitment. The “Thakurvaad” in BHU has Varanasi’s Brahmin academics up in arms, the Prime Minister’s Office has been requested to order an inquiry and fingers have been pointed at Human Resource Development Minister Arjun Singh, himself a Thakur from Madhya Pradesh.?"

The report seemed sour grapes for brahmins then. Anonymous (can be uncredible) that Brahmin forget the brahminvaad prevailing during Vice-Chancellor D.N. Mishra. who was better know as Do Nothing Mishra in student community. Little information about chronological list of VC of BHU. I don't know the follow up but pretty sure, Can there be Smoke without Fire ?

3- BHU Funds Scam(1956) : In one of the first instances of corruption in educational institutions, Benaras Hindu University officials were accused of misappropriation of funds worth Rs 50 lakh.

Great People in the respectable positions has taken corrupt route but I can't just digest the amount of money involved in the corruption in 1950's.

4- "Micro-inequities are ways in which people are ignored, disrespected, undermined, or somehow treated in a different (negative) way because of their gender or race (or some other intrinsic characteristic). A micro-inequity can be very micro. It can involve an action or words or even a tone of voice or a gesture. The inequity can be a deliberate attempt to harm someone or it can be unintentional, rooted in a person's perceptions about others. Whatever the source and however minor each separate event, over the years the cumulative effect of these little incidents, words, and gestures on an individual and on various segments of society (academia, business, even within families) is not so micro." [Source]

These micro- inequalities exist in BHU, Varanasi like any other university or working place due to patriarchal society structure. Personally, I felt there exist gender segregation attitude in BHU administration. More light about this issue can be shed by the readers of this post only. I hope that my analysis was wrong...

Pankaj Mishra has written at length about foreign women in Benares who face frequent verbal and physical harassment. e.g., Chapter 14 of his book, `Butter Chicken in Ludhiana: Travels in small town India' (1995, Penguin India). He describes the harassment experienced by several foreign women students in Benares, whom he had interviewed. Indian women too suffer harassment, but the frequency and severity seem to be much worse for foreigners. Most of the women Mishra spoke to felt that the Benares Hindu University (BHU) was the most difficult place for them. One of the reasons conjectured for the situation is the emergence of a new class of people in BHU and in the city, who came there from the extremely feudal areas around Benares, combining the feudalism of their upbringing with the mindless consumerism of a growing city.

5- Babu Jagjivan RamMadhav Sadashiv Golwalkar are alumnus of this university only. Caste discrimination faced by Jagjivan Ram isn't discussed openly (take few exceptions of seminars) due to higher caste dominated university administration. And about Guruji, how pseudo secular people can call him as notable alumnus ? There are bad people in BHU, there are good people. Just like anywhere, really. This is not the attempt to defame BHU but to unearth some deeply hidden facts or mere fictions. Your views will be regarded in high respect for the sake of truth.

*In common parlance, a devil's advocate is someone who takes a position he or she does not necessarily agree with for the sake of Logical argument. This process can be used to test the quality of the original argument and identify weaknesses in its structure.


  1. I have very nostalgic feeling for Sandeep Pandey, he is from same place I am. I remember, the day he came to my school and I was chosen to welcome him with garlands...we had a little conversation too. Well at that time I did not day I would be in same institute where he had already studied...

    Coming to the post..A lot of things I did not know..I got a lot of information...I really liked the unbiased ( it could be as we r frm BHU) analysis...

    "Those who do not remember their past, will be condemned to repeat it.” Hence remembering some forgotten chapters is indeed needed."

    Very apt lines for this post.

  2. So Amit, u have pleasure to meet one of the great alumnus of our college. Most of the ITians think themselvs as privileged class of BHU due to their selection on the basis of one exam. And behave as elite class of university. They don't have clue about even good things of this grand and splendid University. I just presented the dark side of the facts, may be biased or unbiased. Thanks for going through it.. History hates vaccum but only good should not be filled in it. otherwise official version is an artificial story

  3. The academic fertinity specially most of the teachers in BHU are incomptent and does not even have crdentials to be Teacher in a college. Thanks to Castism by some Vicechancellors including Panjab singh.
    They must be thrown out of univeristy. I know some teachers in BHU who even could not secure admission in BHU as they could not qualify enterance examinations of B.H.U. They went to second class local universitites, completed their Ph.d.s in 2 years and are now permanent faculty in B.H.U. as they were known to family of Panjab singh.
    you can now imagine theat how much harm they will make to society atleast 30 batches i their academic carieer.

  4. @anonymous, Yes, the academic quality is in shambles at BHU. Same case is there in each public and private universities in India. There will always be bad apple in the basket and this depends on character of our leaders sitting on top posts of university and administration. I also feel your rage for the harm done by crooks in the name of education.

    Quality Teachers can't be invented over night. We need huge pool of graduates and post graduates in first place and then with stiff competition among them , we can get the best pool of teachers. With the dearth of even private investment and pressure of huge population, the situation will get worse with time. We need huge private investment in private universities and performance evaluation of faculty each year on the basis of research, teaching and consultancy.



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