CHENNAI: The happenings at JNU may be a hot topic of discussion, debate and protest on campuses across India, but not at the IITs. Curiously, student leaders in almost all the premier institutes said that there was “little or no organised discussion” about JNU.
“At the IIT-Bombay campus people are not even discussing this issue. They feel that whatever is going on in JNU is wrong, but they are not discussing about the issue. People are posting on social media, but it has not started a wildfire in the institute yet. We enjoy a lot of freedom at the institute so there is no resonance of the JNU issue here. Probably IIT-Delhi would have felt the impact of the row because of its close proximity ,”said Shubham Goyal, general secretary for Academic Affairs (UG), IIT-Bombay.
However, he did say that students could do as they pleased in their personal capacity, “People are not being restricted and there is no directive to curb on discussions on this issue here at IIT-Bombay. Students should have a certain level of freedom. Nothing has taken shape (as an organised protest) in the institute, but it may build up in the future.”
This is strange in essence because IIT unionists and specific groups have been known to weigh in on almost every issue of note and make their voice heard - from the Kiss Of Love protests to the more recent agitations for the elimination of the Ambedkar Periyar Study Circle (APSC). In fact, IITians have been known to joke that they had a habit of debating everything under the sun in their study circles except studies.
IIT-Bhubaneswar’s college union also had a similar take, Amit Kumar Meena, deputy general secretary of the Student Hall Council said, “Our classes are happening as usual and we are smaller in number compared to the other IITs. People are posting it at an individual level, but there is not much debate on the issue.” a
IIT-Madras is the only place where students seemed to be at least talking about it outside of social media. Its students general secretary Dheeresh Chandra K revealed that people were divided on the issue and the students did not intend to show any kind of support or dissent towards the issue, until they had some unity in thinking. “People are expressing their views, both positive and negative ones on Facebook, although a majority feel that the events in JNU were unfavourable and not desirable. Police should have intervened and taken charge of the events, because nothing comes out of beating the students,” he said. He added that a debate was mandatory to ensure a change happened.