After MHA directive, UGC instructs universities to make students pledge against terrorism
The University Grants Commission (UGC) in a circular mandated all universities across the country to observe 21 May as Anti-Terrorism Day and conduct an “anti-terrorism pledge-taking ceremony” for all students.
The official notice was sent to vice-chancellors of all universities by the UGC following directives in a letter dated 8 May, 2018 by the Ministry of Homes Affairs that recognised 21 May as Anti-Terrorism Day. The letter stated that the objective behind the observance was “to wean away the youth from terrorism and the cult of violence by highlighting the sufferings of common people and showing as to how it is prejudiciat (sic)to the national interest.”
The letter also instructed to organise appropriate programmes, including the pledge-taking ceremony, to observe the Anti-Terrorism Day in all government offices, public sector undertakings and other public institutions.
The Ministry of Home Affairs instructed mass education programmes, lectures, talks and discussions to be organised in schools, colleges, universities and other government organisations to highlight the ill-effects of violence and terrorism.
The anti-terrorism pledge reads as follows –
While many universities including Jawaharlal Nehru University and Delhi University observed Anti-Terrorism Day in their campuses by conducting pledge taking ceremonies, some faculty members and students questioned the government’s motives behind enforcing such an event.
Professor Ravi Srivastava, a senior faculty member of economics in JNU said, “As far as this government is concerned, such things are given a lot of importance as opposed to issues that really need focus. Obviously we are against terrorism, everybody is, but how about observing a day like anti-Dalit violence day or poverty alleviation day to name a few. These issues need more awareness and discussions among youth vis-à-vis an Anti-Terrorism Day, which everyone already condemns. Creating fear to unite people to garner support has always been this government’s tactic. It is not surprising that the government enforces these unnecessary displays of patriotism among the youth.”
Mohit Pandey, a student activist and former president of JNU’s Student Union, says, “It goes without saying that there is no problem in condemning terrorism, but in the present context it is more important to condemn Hindutva or saffron terrorism that is spreading rapidly within our country. In the last few years under the current regime, Hindutva terrorism has increased tremendously and the silence on it by the government is deafening. Only yesterday, a Dalit man in Gujarat was beaten mercilessly to death for alleged theft. Is that not terrorism? Isn’t it important for the government to condemn terrorism that is being carried out by Hindutva agents too and not just Islamic terrorism? This is nothing but a ploy to instill pseudo-nationalism by bringing people together against issues like Islamic terrorism.”
Nandita Narain, a senior faculty member in Delhi University’s St Stephen’s College also condemned enforcing an Anti-Terrorism Day pledge-taking ceremony in universities. “What is the point of conducting an event like this? To tell students that terrorism is bad? This is nothing but a tactic to influence young minds and instill jingoism among the youth. This act is no different from installing tanks in universities with an aim to instill so-called nationalism in students. I wouldn’t mind if the focus was on terrorism of every kind, especially the one that is the most threatening to our democracy at this moment, saffron terrorism. The Hindutva agenda is a greater threat to India in today’s context, Incidents of Islamic terrorism seems to be the focus of observing this day. It is ironic, really.”