“Dissent in Educational Spaces” is going to be the buzz word among the coterie of attention-seeking, radical activist students of Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS), Hyderabad as Shehla Rashid is coming to the institution to deliver a lecture on 16th August, 2017. Shehla, it must be noted, is a member of All India Students Association (AISA) and has strong links to Communist Party of India (Marxists-Leninists) Liberation. I write this piece as a student of the same college. A small number of students in TISS Hyderabad have taken it upon themselves to vitiate the learning environment for others and it is a matter of great concern.
It is a matter of utter disappointment that the academic discourse has been totally hijacked by a group of radical student activists and their nexus who run Azad Mann club. The issue is, however, not as plain and simple as it sounds. Discourse colonization is an elaborate process which is being undertaken with the closet support from few of the faculty members to a handful of these students. Such hegemonization is operating in the Gramscian sense of the word at the level of consent and coercion alike. Before I explain how consent and coercion are being used to dissipate the Marxist-Leninist propaganda, an important caveat must be in order that only a small yet powerful nexus of students and faculty have such interests. The rest of the students need to be saved from them and not painted in the same colour because of the misdeeds of Azad Mann.
At the level of coercion, any voice that dissents with the propaganda is portrayed as morally depraved to say the least and can go to the extent of being called “McCarthist”, “Fascist”, and “Nazi”. The use of such arguments by the vocal coterie of these Marxist-Leninist propagandists is enough to silence the young dissenters. A handful of people like us write with pseudonyms in order to survive at college without being hounded by the powerful nexus of Marxists-Leninists.
At the level of consent, the role of the curriculum and the teachers become crucial. The curriculum has been designed in order to breed young social scientists with a Marxist approach to social sciences. It is commonplace to reject other arguments as “neoliberal”, “communal” or “statist”. In the first year of college, a series of videos are shown to the young minds in order to instil in them a sympathy towards separatists, Maoists and those that revel at the thought of a fragmented India. Such videos include, among others, “Inshallah Kashmir”. The wave of literature that the fresher student is flooded with and exposed to throughout his/her life at TISS Hyderabad is of a Marxist-Leninist orientation. It is, therefore, not a matter of surprise that Rajeev Malhotra was booed and not allowed to speak while he was at TISS Mumbai. He finally had to leave midway because of consistent booing and haranguing by the students. The intolerance towards a dissenting view was visceral.
Finally, dangerous manufacturing of consent in favour of the Marxist-Leninists and use of non-physical coercion is being used to vitiate, and virtually kill, the atmosphere of healthy debate, critique and counter-critique. Hegelian dialectics is dying a slow death at TISS Hyderabad. There exists only one thesis and the non-radical students stand as testimony to the arguments made here. One only needs to address their fears.
I am a student at TISS Hyderabad. I cannot reveal my real name because I do not wish to be troubled by Azad Mann, which is a pro-Naxalite student body at TISS Hyderabad.