Has IISC drifted from its stated purpose of 'research and innovation in science' to 'politically active' institution like JNU?
It is high time that the concerned government bodies along with the Institutes management maps down necessary actions to ensure the campus doesn’t become another political battle ground like JNU or Jadavpur University.
It is well known fact that many of India's prominent research institutes were and are being headed by alumni of Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bangalore. With almost all famous Universities in India being involved in one or the other political discourse concerning the nation, IISc has somehow managed to be apolitical in its history of 111 years. However, it now seems that the institute will be breaking this very record.
On the 6th of Jan this year, a day after students in JNU were attacked by masked goons, a couple of hundred students of IISc protested this assault. Students across the country showed their anger towards such horrific attack in JNU. The Nation however awaits to know if this was a staged act or not. However, students of IISc condemning such an act felt like a natural spontaneous response of anger towards inhumanity. But a deeper dive into this protest in the institute uncovers more than just a 'natural spontaneous response'.
The deadly 'Azadi' slogans had reached this esteemed institute. Students who were assembled to supposedly condemn JNU's incident, started raising slogans such as 'Manu vaad se Azadi', 'RSS se Azadi', 'Hinduon se Azadi' and so on. Probably the only line missing from Kanhaiya Kumar's most infamous Azadi slogan of 2016 was 'Bharat Tere tukde honge, Insha Allah Insha Allah'. The anchor of this event in IISc, which seems to be orchestrated one, was Dr Tejal Kanitkar, an Associate Professor from National Institute of Advanced Studies(NIAS), Bangalore. The youtube video that surfaced of this 'Azadi' drama mentions that this was jointly organized by Students and Faculty of IISc, NIAS and ICTS(International Centre for Theoretical Sciences, Bangalore). This raises many questions. How was it possible for students and professors of three Deemed Institutes to organize such an event within a days’ time?
How is 'Azadi' linked to JNU violence? Why are professors from these institutes involved in the 'Azadi' march? Was it really a march against brutality on students of JNU? How did students and lecturers from other institutes walk into IISc in such large numbers? Was the management aware of this? At this point, it is also worth noting that the controversial 'Historian' Mr. Ramchandra Guha was recently appointed to Satish Dhawan Chair in IISc, which is usually reserved for distinguished scientists contributing to the field of space science and technology.
The most important question however is whether the institute itself is ready to drift from the sole purpose of its inception of 'research and innovation in the field of science' to 'politically active' institution? Recently, student groups have also arranged talks on CAA and NRC, both for and against. It is high time that the concerned government bodies along with the Institutes management maps down necessary actions to make sure the campus doesn’t become another political battle ground like JNU or Jadavpur University. Going by the mood amongst the students in the institute, this day doesn’t seem so far from now.
(The author is a research scholar and an alumni of IISC)