Why JNU can Ill-afford to ignore Rahul Punaram Sonpimple

 

 Jyotirmoy Talukdar

Come Wednesday night, Jawaharlal Nehru University in the country’s capital will witness another session of the much awaited presidential debates. If the analyses and estimations from last year’s elections – which said that Kanhaiya Kumar’s speech swept all the floating votes toward his favour – are anything to go by, the night of the debate indeed is not a mere spectacle of wit, oratory and rhetoric, but also serious electioneering. But, this year’s elections look riveting and engrossing for another reason—the clear emergence of the Birsa Ambedkar Phule Students’ Association (BAPSA) as a force that has been systematically sussing out and exposing the casteism practiced by the Indian Left, particularly the parliamentary Left parties. With its call for the unity of the bahujan on a platform of ‘shared reality of different oppressions’, BAPSA is hoping to scrape together all such votes that have not been represented and respected by the erstwhile Unions.

rahul bapsa

And the cynosure at this juncture is a seasoned student leader named Rahul Punaram Sonpimple, who hails from a slum in Nagpur and studied in the Tata Institute of Social Sciences in Mumbai before joining the Centre for the Study of Social Systems in JNU for his MPhil. Despite the awfully busy campaign schedule, he meets me briefly to talk about why the Left in JNU should stop talking about BAPSA patronizingly and sympathetically if it actually cared about the common struggle of the historically oppressed in the country. Rahul explained why the demand for decreasing the maximum marks stipulated for the interview is a result of collection of years of data through RTI applications where it has been seen that students from discriminated communities have historically been awarded low marks even when a lot of them score as much as seventy percent in the written examination, making the whole system look dubious and dodgy. “There have been so many instances where a student from an oppressed background and one from the comparatively privileged have scored similar marks in the written, but the latter goes on to get anything between fifteen and twenty in the viva and the former sometimes even a zero,” says Rahul.  The administrative, systemic discrimination also shows in the high level of dropouts from among the Dalits and other persecuted communities, corroborating the allegation that discrimination does not stop after you enter the institution. This is the biggest hole BAPSA sets forth to plug.

But the equally crucial and key agenda that the organization has this year is that of deprivation points for the Muslim students since – says the candidate -- “the number of Muslim students, barring in Urdu and Persian, is abysmal and political activism in JNU has not clearly been able to address this cardinal issue.” The wishy-washy commitment of the Left parties in JNU may well have to answer some hard-nosed and badass questions from this front of the oppressed minorities speaking for themselves.

The BAPSA candidates believe that such systematic problems can be resolved with systemic changes, and in the case of JNU, looking at the list of faculty members is as important. “No Dalit promoted to professorship means no Dalit as chairperson, no Dalit as the head of any powerful committee and decision-making bodies. Most of  the interviewees ‘not found suitable (NFS)’ are lower caste, Muslim and Adivasi teachers,” says a central panel candidate. Rahul asseverates, by way of examples, that a centre which boasts of an arch-chairperson with presentations and publications on labour and economy in India’s hinterlands does not have an Adivasi faculty member for the longest history.

Since the schools with subjects in science are assumed to be tilting Right-ward and the social sciences Left, the presidential candidate statistically showed how the history of questionable numbers holds true for all the schools irrespective of ABVP or Left predilections. BAPSA is for complete oppressed unity, and will stand pledged and bound to address every issue faced by communities like the SC, ST, Adivasi, OBC, LGBTQ, people from the North Eastern region and from Kashmir, deposes the crusader who does not mind any label that his campaigns and fights may give him. “Some people may call me a Marxist when I champion these causes, some a progressive, and some others an Ambedkarite. I mind none if social justice is delivered,” smiles the son of a construction-worker mother who took her son to meetings after the Khairlanji massacre of 2006, and a rickshaw puller father, who died in 2005.

As to the so-called Left unity between the AISA and the SFI in JNU, Rahul points out to the kidology that it is, reminding us how AISA in JNU had consolidated as a carper of SFI and its parent party CPI(M) post-Singur, only to shake hands at opportune moments. Who does AISA now think was the killer of Tapasi Malik, he asks. “In Kerala, the Left had indulged in character assassination of Chitralekha and now here, out of frustration, they revealed the identity of the rape survivor in the recent case that anyway put AISA on the back foot, forcing them to cringe and look for alliance cover. It all points to their lack of sense and sensibility,” added another contender, saying that this unfortunately became possible because the Left had created a structure of impunity for themselves which gives them the arrogance and impudence to do anything by invoking the ABVP fear. This election, BAPSA also asks the electorate to put on their thinking cap about what the outgoing union achieved for the university going beyond their individual celebrity status. “It is great that two of the leaders are writing their autobiographies for big corporate publishing houses, but what is the report card of work for the lesser mortals in the campus?” the presidential hopeful enquires and claims that sale and celebration of oppression in flowery speeches are not going to pull the wool over the students’ eyes. He included that BAPSA’s success lies in the fact that the even ABVP member in the current union, though hilariously enough, has started to talk about caste and publicize himself as a member from the OBC.

As the contingent got ready for another round of canvassing, I asked Rahul to quickly tell me about the TISS Mumbai anecdote doing the rounds. A member in the interview panel, having found out that he came from the slums, started praising how good and innocent slum-dwellers are, to which Rahul said: not at all. They have high crime rates, acute patriarchy, and need no romanticization but solutions. “You cannot continue to exoticize and sell the stories of the discriminated and the suppressed. Instead, learn to listen to them and not condescend, if you actually want to see justice and equality. Therefore, your politics wherein you promise a revolution of the eternally downtrodden cannot and should not forever have a Pandey and a Chakraborty as projected leading faces, just as I should not volunteer to be the torchbearer of a feminist movement. For a change, you must listen to the underprivileged speak in their own tongue and style,” a self-assured Sonpimple Rahul Punaram signs off.

~~~

 

 Jyotirmoy Talukdar is an independent journalist and researcher. He divides his time between politics and poetry.

Other Related Articles

The Rise of the Bheem Army
Saturday, 13 May 2017
  Vinay Shende Exclusive details on the recent caste incidents in Saharanpur, Uttar Pradesh, and the role of the Bheem Army. This report is based on a member speaking to Round Table India on the... Read More...
जे.एन.यू. में ब्राह्मणवाद की खेती: जितेन्द्र सुना
Monday, 27 March 2017
  जितेन्द्र सुना मुथुकृष्ण्न की संस्थानिक हत्या के विरोध में 16 मार्च,... Read More...
Institutional Discrimination in Academic Agrahara
Tuesday, 21 March 2017
  Bansidhar Deep "When equality is denied everything is denied. There is no equality in M.Phil/Ph.D admission, there is no equality in viva-voce, there is only denial of equality, denying prof.... Read More...
The Death of a Historian in Centre for Historical Studies, JNU
Sunday, 19 March 2017
  Jitendra Suna Speech made at the protest by BAPSA on 16th March, 2017 against the Institutional Murder of Muthukrishnan (Rajini Krish) I am Jitendra Suna, and I am from a remote village named... Read More...
Unite to stop self-punishment
Saturday, 18 March 2017
  Hemangi Kadlak It is said that those who come from poor socio-economic backgrounds have a stronger fighting spirit because of the need for survival. Then why are some students from these... Read More...

Recent Popular Articles

Fight against the Misogyny & Casteism of 'Best Indian Memes for Creamy Teens', FB page
Friday, 06 January 2017
  Vinay Shende "My final words of advice to you are Educate, Agitate and Organize; have faith in yourself. With justice on our side I do not see how we can lose our battle. The battle to me is a... Read More...
Workshop on How to Write a CV (Mumbai on 18thDec)
Wednesday, 14 December 2016
  Vinay Shende Name of Event: CV Writing WorkshopDate: 18th of December, 2016.Venue: JP Naik Auditorium, Mumbai University, Kalina, Santacruz (E), MumbaiTime: (a) Session 1: 9.30 am to... Read More...
Unite to stop self-punishment
Saturday, 18 March 2017
  Hemangi Kadlak It is said that those who come from poor socio-economic backgrounds have a stronger fighting spirit because of the need for survival. Then why are some students from these... Read More...
Myth making in India: The story of Teachers’ Day
Friday, 13 January 2017
  Amar KhadeTeachers' Day is celebrated across many Nations to pay respect and appreciate the works done by Teachers in shaping the next generation citizens. Different Nations celebrate... Read More...

Recent Articles in Hindi

पेरियार से हम क्या सीखें?

पेरियार से हम क्या सीखें?

  संजय जोठे  इस देश में भेदभाव और शोषण से भरी परम्पराओं का विरोध करने वाले अनेक विचारक और क्रांतिकारी हुए हैं जिनके बारे में हमें बार-बार पढ़ना और समझना चाहिए. दुर्भाग्य से इस देश के शोषक वर्गों के षड्यंत्र के कारण इन क्रांतिकारियों का जीवन परिचय और समग्र कर्तृत्व छुपाकर रखा जाता है. हमारी अनेकों पीढियां इसी षड्यंत्र में जीती आयीं हैं. किसी देश के उद्भट विचारकों और क्रान्तिकारियों को इस...

Read more

कृष्ण: भारतीय मर्द का एक आम चेहरा...!

कृष्ण: भारतीय मर्द का एक आम चेहरा...!

(कृष्ण की लोक लुभावन छवि का पुनर्पाठ!)मानुषी आखिर ये मिथकीय कहानियां किस तरह की परवरिश और शिक्षा देती हैं, जहां पुरुषों को सारे अधिकार हैं, चाहे वह स्त्री को अपमानित करे या दंडित, उसे स्त्री पलट कर कुछ नहीं कहती। फिर आज हम रोना रोते हैं कि हमारे बच्चे इतने हिंसक और कुंठित क्यों हो रहे हैं। सारा दोष हम इंटरनेट और टेलीविजन को देकर मुक्त होना चाहते हैं। जबकि स्त्री...

Read more

राष्ट्रवाद और देशभक्ति

राष्ट्रवाद और देशभक्ति

संजय जोठे धर्म जो काम शास्त्र लिखकर करता है वही काम राष्ट्र अब फ़िल्में और विडिओ गेम्स बनाकर बनाकर करते हैं. इसी के साथ सुविधाभोगी पीढ़ी को मौत से बचाने के लिए टेक्नालाजी पर भयानक खर्च भी करना पड़ता है ताकि दूर बैठकर ही देशों का सफाया किया जा सके, और यही असल में उस तथाकथित “स्पेस रिसर्च” और “अक्षय ऊर्जा की खोज” की मूल प्रेरणा है, यूं तो सबको...

Read more