Sunday, May 8, 2016

Academic Freedoms Among Others

Freedom is something priceless. How could one define it? How could one know what it is? 

It is like life. Difficult to define, except as what it is not. Life is that which is not death! So too, freedom is that which is not constrained, fettered or in shackles, mental or physical.

Mental restraint may be as cruel, if not more so, than physical curtailment of liberty. 

There are many kinds of freedoms - to travel (remember one take off from an aircraft for dissent), to speak, to think, to practice and propagate religion, to carry on professions, to write, to subscribe to political ideologies, to gather in protest and so on.

When there are so many varieties of freedoms, why is it that on academia there are many kinds of manacles?

Teachers and students experience all kinds of restrictions. Should we not have a more liberal academic world where many flowers may bloom?

Could we attribute the lack of innovative or original work out from our academia as due to lack of freedoms?

Take a look at three websites; one is Kingston University of the UK, the second is our own JNU and the third, IIT, Chennai.

Here are the links.
  1. Kingston
  2. JNU
  3. IIT, Chennai

The difference is so striking that one wonders where has all our fabled IT prowess gone!

The first is all about students, faculty, courses, facilities, admissions - information useful to those seeking to enter it.

The second two are pathetic. They open with photos of functions, mostly of some government minister or official.

The ethos prevalent here.

A reflection of this is in the recent JNU controversy. Even a judge while granting bail imagined it necessary to the student to curb his youthful exuberance. 

In this context an article in 'The Hindu' of 3 May 2016, titled, "A case for open academic spaces", by Thelma Raju and Noor Ameena makes interesting reading. (Please click the title to access the article.)

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