"For democracy to function, it is imperative that their voices not be muzzled"

Students must challenge authority call out the naked emperor Kerala professor Deepa NisanthImage: Vishnu A
news Interview Saturday, August 06, 2016 - 12:44

While several colleges are being called out for their strict rules and professors being criticized for siding with regressive managements, an assistant professor at the Sree Kerala Varma college in Thrissur has chosen to question authority repeatedly.

Professor Deepa Nisanth, who shot to social media fame for standing up for students who had organised beef fests has now spoken out on the Pondicherry University magazine controversy.

Also read: ABVP's next target, Pondicherry Uni: Wants students suspended for 'anti-national' magazine

Talking to The News Minute, she says, “Kids are always brave enough to shout out that the Emperor is naked. For democracy to function, it is imperative that their voices not be muzzled.”

More importantly, the Assistant Professor says that students must question authority.

On Wednesday Deepa Nisanth wrote on Facebook expressing her solidarity with Pondicherry University students who were recently targeted by the ABVP for bringing out an ‘anti-national’ college magazine ‘Widerstand’.

Articles titled ‘#OccupyUGC’, ‘The Diary of a Protestor’, ‘Era of Indian Resistance’, ‘Turning into Saffronized Concentrations Camps’, ‘A Country Without Free Speech’ and a page exclusively dedicated to the victims of ‘institutional murders’ holding aglow the memories of Rohith Vemula and the rest managed to rile the ABVP into burning copies of the said magazine.

As a gesture of support for ‘the dissenting voices of the minority’, Deepa along with poetess Bindu Krishnan had accepted the magazine copies that were republished as a token of protest, under the patronage of the Students Federation of India (SFI) and her college magazine committee.

“I definitely do not advocate extremism of any kind, be it that of the Left or the Right. But I fail to understand why outsiders are being allowed to have a say in what is purely an internal matter of a particular institution. Ironically, now thanks to them, the entire nation is curious to know as to what exactly was written in the magazine,” she smiles.

She goes on to add, “It’s high time authorities wake up to the changes that are happening all around. You will no longer find a college magazine replete with nostalgic or romantic copies, as done in the days of yore. Students are very aware of socio-political issues and are brave enough to voice their opinions on the same. Voices of dissent have always been part of growing up.”

Deepa is also quick to point out the similarities between the portals of education that have been targeted till date by hate-mongers. “If you notice, Hyderabad Central University (HCU), Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), Delhi University and now Pondicherry University are considered among the top institutes of higher learning in the country. And these are all currently in a state of turmoil, only because a few jingoist-spewing so-called nationalists seem to be deliberately targeting them in a bid to infiltrate the student community with a misplaced sense of patriotism.”

How could exercising one’s basic fundamental right of free speech be construed as anti-nationalism, wonders Deepa. Sowing the seeds of fear to suppress questioning voices is indeed a hallmark of fascism, she reiterates.

Deepa opines that the very fact that the younger generation is actively participating in nation-building through dialogue, debate and discussion should be seen in a positive light, rather than view it as some sort of an internal threat to those in power.

“The mischief-makers are not the students per se, but external elements that are hell-bent on fomenting trouble where there is none. We need to guard against that and continue to speak out against such divisive forces,” she says.

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