[section_title title=Jadhavpur University]
Third, the latter incident along with that of arrest of another Jadhavpur University (JU) professor for the ‘offence’ of electronically spreading cartoons caricaturing Mamata Banerjee, the Bengal chef minister has stirred the academia, mainly centered across the JU following which I’m receiving tons of photos over the internet featuring some of my most ‘docile’ friends-colleagues-teachers (Yes, I know them personally) emerging in protest rallies. I’m however not in favor of banishment of academicians/scientists as Plato was in context to the poets, nor am I hostile to their extra-curricular ‘humane’ concerns. All I’m pointing to is the rhetoric of the protest that way it has been represented. I rather congratulate my friends-colleagues-teachers for having stood up for the scientist duo, but at the same time can’t let this un-democratization of academia go unexamined.
The most influential of the 20th C public intellectuals were academicians: Sartre and Russell. Both walked in protest rallies, their professional/academic commitments notwithstanding. As of these docile profs-turned-protestors I happen to know professionally, I know they won’t oppose the research scholar bringing water for conferences at JU, but are now seen opposing the statist regime! Structurally the university has undergone the least change in terms of perpetrating ‘symbolic violence’ in the last 400 or so years compared to other institutions (say, the banks, or the hospitals) and I’ve seen these people (I’m talking about some, but have to be anonymous here) being the most authoritarian in the all domains they get to exert top-down control over. They have little research contribution, their teaching competence is never evaluated, and some even have been appointed on basis of cronyism.
I’m in agreement that the current political affair in Bengal has to be protested. But what I ask is: those whose academic credibility is questionable, how do they qualify to express concerns for other ‘larger’ issues? If they have abysmally failed to have been answerable for what they’re paid for, what is the credibility of them ‘acting’ (literally) as public intellectuals? Is it some ‘larger’ concerns they are rallying for, or is it a gesture of celebration of academic mediocrity that is lured by the prospect of public intellectualism?
About the Author
Avishek Ray ( Born: April 11, 1985) is currently enrolled for PhD program in Cultural Studies at the Trent University, Peterborough, Ontario. His thesis aims to do a sociology of vagabondage, inquire why, when and how it emerged as a separate genre of travel in context to India, and politically account for the dividing practice that renders one as a traveler and another a vagabond, one explorer and another a wanderer and so on.
He holds bachelors and Master of Arts degree in Comparative Literature from Jadavpur University. He finished a PhD-level coursework (2009-10) from the Centre for the Study of Culture and Society (CSCS), a premiere research institute in Bangalore, while simultaneously working as a research associate in the Culture-Subjectivity-Psyche (CUSP) unit of the same institute. While in CUSP he studied the interface of hierarchical relations between the ‘western’ medicine and other indigenous modes of healing on the one hand and the doctor as the ‘service-provider’ and the patient as the ‘stakeholder’ on the other.
Interests include, but not limited to: history and philosophy of sciences, visual culture, political cartoons, consciousness studies, gastronomy, organic farming among others. An avid traveler who likes to take off the beaten track; has edited an anthology in Bangla on ‘Religion and Popular Culture’ (2008).
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