Vinod Mubayi and Raza Mir


On the 17th of January 2016, Rohith Vemula, a PhD student from the University of Hyderabad, committed suicide. The first ten pieces of this bulletin are devoted to examining Rohith’s suicide, but in this editorial, we wish to point out fact that this event shone an uncomfortable light on the shocking casteism that pervades Indian university hostels. Even in places like JNU, Dalit students are routinely subjected to social boycotts in hostels.


Rohith had been suspended from the university hostel by an order from the Vice Chancellor, an RSS apparatchik who received his marching orders from Bandaru Dattatreya, the Minister of Labour and Employment in the Modi Cabinet. Dattareya’s role in anti-Muslim riots over the past three decades is well known to left activists from Hyderabad. Truly, the most effective organized opposition to Hindutva today comes much more from Dalit groups than from the liberal/left forces. To that extent, Rohith Vemula is a martyr for the cause of secular India.


Hindutva groups have understood that the educational environment poses great danger for them, and have correspondingly ratcheted up the regimes of intolerance in that realm. The newly appointed Hindutva-friendly Vice Chancellor of Banaras Hindu University summarily and illegally fired Sandeep Pandey, a Magsaysay Award winner, in January 2016. We should not forget that Prof. MM Kalburgi, who was shot dead by Hindutva goons in August 2015, was an academic who had served as the vice-chancellor of Kannada University in Hampi.


In the United States, money is being thrown about to glorify so-called Indic religions, a pet project of the Hindutva crowd, to give an academic veneer to their ideology. Recently, four endowed chairs were established at the University of California, Irvine: the Thakkar Family-Dharma Civilization Foundation Presidential Chair in Vedic and Indic Civilization Studies, the Dhan Kaur Sahota Presidential Chair in Sikh Studies, Shri Parshvanath Presidential Chair in Jain Studies, and the Swami Vivekananda-Dharma Civilization Foundation Presidential Chair in Modern India Studies. Troubled universities accept such largesse eagerly, so much so that they sacrifice their principles. To that end, the Dharma Civilization Foundation (which coordinated the fundraising for this endowment) has put forward its own list of acceptable candidates based on race and religion. Hindutva is all set to get the official imprimatur of a legitimate lens through which Indian history and culture can be viewed.

The Hindutva project is proceeding with a textbook fascist playbook. The price of freedom for activists is eternal vigilance, in the era of Modi.

Top - Home