Saturday, 12 May, 2007

Open letter to MSU V- C Manoj Soni


To, May 11, 2007
The Vice Chancellor
Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda

Dear Manoj,

Its been more then one and half decade since we studied together at the Arts Faculty.
If you remember those times and the atmosphere then, there are some pleasant memories. The environment academic as well as extra curricular, is something Manoj we surely remember with foundness. You always were the prim and proper, the ideal student – the academic one. And I was the happy go lucky care a damn types. Having my finger in every pie right from theater to debating to elections, everything but academics. While I remember the good student, Manoj of then, who was a man of few words and carried himself with dignity and respect. And there is the Manoj the VC of today who somehow has been taken over by his ambitions and forgotten what as a student he got from the University. He seems to be appointed by powers – his masters and he is in total control of them as a puppet. Your actions since the last few years are absolutely shocking.

When you joined as VC here I was elated and came to meet you assuring you of all my support. But then your actions – which I cant believe are yours – you seem to be working on instructions of your masters. Having little control of what you are doing. Since you have taken over MSU has gone from frying pan to fire. You are singularly responsible for accelerating the decline of this lovely institution. Manoj you seem to be controlled by a group who has no interest in the progress of the University and they just want to rule the system. In the name of safronisation they are into very dirty power play and are hell bent on messing up and you seem to be in their total control so that you can continue as the Vice Chancellor. You are doing ‘justice’ to your designation- vice chancellor – you are for sure giving loads of CHANCES to all the possible VICES in the University.

My friend haven’t you changed a lot? You still carry the fixed smile from student days. Only thing is that the pleasant smile of then is replaced by a devilish fixed smile which is always there- seemingly enjoying the rape of the University.

What happened at the Fine Arts Faculty is simply shocking and unbelievable. The issue is not whether what the student had displayed was right or wrong. It is a separate matter. The issue is that outside fanatics in the name of culture or religion come into the campus and disturb the sacrosanct examination process, abuse and threaten academicians and students. And the university refuses to act. It is such a shame that instead of filing an FIR for trespass of University property and threats to teachers you and your bunch of cronies actually asked the teachers to apologize! How much will you fall and stoop to what levels to please your bosses? How much will your masters dictate your actions and you be part of their devious plans? My friend is there not even an iota of conscience left inside you? Are you just not bothered of your actions? I understand you did not take any action for nearly7 hours when the goons were roaming and terrorizing the faculty and students. Hundreds of students exams work was on display and the pieces of art were under threat of being damaged. You did not even feel once that you should act immediately. The exams were being disrupted and you did not care at all. Your office members came finally at 9.30 odd when the police was finishing the sealing of the display- exactly at that time. Looks as if you were part of the entire plan and were hand in glove with the goons. In fact till date the University has not taken any action against the alleged trespass. Isnt it shocking and shamefull.

The university is under your authority – if anything went wrong on it – it was you who was to act. Not Niraj Jain or anyone else. Or is it that you do not have any authority on the campus? And so you allow outside powers to take control. Manoj have things come to this level? I am sure you are holding on to your fixed smile as you read the letter – as your actions or rather lack of them would have got you more complements from your masters. And assured you maybe of another term as VC so that they can continue with your active support, their vices on the campus.

It is shocking that on the campus – which is like a large family we have outsiders ruling and the VC- who is supposed to be a respectable figure, a father figure to the University is encouraging them and asking senior academicians to apologise! If you allow me to be personal, in your house if your child or wife don’t listen to you or are wrong and don’t fall in line with the ideology of your masters – do you sort it out or call up Niraj Jain or some other fanatics to come and handle them? Threaten them? Abuse your wife and children and then maybe get them arrested? Surely not. Similiarly please don’t allow such rot to set on the campus. Please wake up my friend please do so.

And of course one little question from me –incidentally I am a Jain who prays twice a day and doesn’t have to wear a saffron band or get into hooliganism to prove that he is a good Hindu. The question I would like to ask your masters- if they are genuinely worried about peoples sentiments and religious purity etc--- do they ever wonder that during Ganesh Chaturti every single hour and every single day--- there is kajra re or bidi jaliale or such shit being sung and people most of them drunk dancing in front of gods idols? Similiarly during Navratri in Most of Gujarat, there is disco and filmi songs being sung in the name of Ma Ambe- doesn’t it pinch the religious moral police then? Would they find one painting or two objectionable at a college exam – which is purely internal and don’t mind their cadres in thousand dancing to obscene songs for days together at the Ganesh Pandals? Or they don’t have the guts to object there as it would be anti populist and possibly this is easier meat and gives them more publicity.
In fact the Fine Arts Faculty has preserved the traditional Garba with an absolutely traditional form of Garba at its Faculty. That is culture. What positive work has been done by the Saffron Brigade for Hindus? Except negative and destructive activities. We hindus are acting like fanatic extremists- let your masters know a true Hindus feelings.

It is sad that in the name of religion society is being hijacked and people like you who are at responsible posts- are behaving so shamelessly. I have seen and heard how the elections to senate, syndicate, promotions, threats to professors, arm twisting of academicians are taking place at the University by the so called saffron brigade goons. It is really sad – worse that you are an active part of it.

I don’t subscribe to any kind of religious insults and fanaticism from any religion Hindu, Christian or Muslim. And I repeat the issue here is not of what the student displayed – whether it was right or wrong. That was for you the authorities to decide in a civilized manner. It is an issue of letting hooligans enter rule and escape without any action – possibly with you and your cronies active support. And the tragedy that you instead asked the academicians for apology. It is extremely sad and distressful to see an old friend work like this. I may have been harsh, but have no regrets as you are doing much worse to the university. You are actually encouraging gang rape of the University, ofcourse you are smiling then too. And the fact that anyone sensible raises a voice in the University you brand him as anti BJP. Believe me I have always been a BJP voter supporter – but what you are guys are doing is extremely disgusting and will lead to the destruction of the once great University. And I feel ashamed that the party I support from my heart is part of this destruction.

Dear Vice Chancellor – do free the university of its vices- let your conscious awaken and you be your own master. You be what I knew you about 20 years back. Please work positively without any political biases with only the interests of the University in mind. Lets bring it back to its glory. Everyone makes mistakes. But it is never to late to realize and correct them. Jab Jaage Tab Swara Hai. Being a Soni, I presume you are from a community of jewellers –learn to respect the jewel MSU and stop the damage my friend. I plead stop it in the name of humanity.

Yours truly,
Pantul Kothari
Senate Member – Faculty of Management Registered Graduates Constituency


Prabodh said...

dear pantul, khub saru lague. tame spashtata sathe lakhyu che mate aamara abhinandan. writing to you from mumbai, would like to let yu knoe that your clarity on these issues is re-assuring to those of us who are glad to be gujaraties without being intolerent. stay well. regards from prabodh and mitra parikh.

Ilesh said...

Dear Pantul,
I salute you for your bold expression. We support your views.

Ilesh Vyas

malvika said...

what has been said in this letter is so correct!we can not stand back and let fanatics walk into an institute and not only disrupt the examination process but also physicaly harm the students.that too with the support of the so called care takers of law and can the university officials sit back and watch?we are disillusioning and killing the spirit of the generations to come.

Sowmya said...

I've always believed "Illegitimi non carborundum" and you have my full support behind this letter, Mr. Kothari. Good to know people like you exist within the university.

simba said...


Once a reputed centre of tertiary education with countless number of alumni from all faculties strewn across the world, is now a pariah. It is on the verge of being disowned not only by the UGC, but shunned by past students and teachers who are shocked and shamed at the latest debacle unfolding globally, unfortunately for university administrators, across the internet. It is bad enough to witness the academic demise of one’s alma mater across the last two decades, but watching political fanaticism mocking the very tenets of democracy, of which all Indians are supposedly proud of, is positively blood curdling.

The university is an institution, which needs to be properly administered and protected by those empowered to do so, including the Vice Chancellor, Syndicate/Senate Members, etc. Instead we are witnessing a debacle where the highest authority turns on his institute, sanctioning the violation of free expression and education on the flimsy excuse of immorality, that too in a land steeped and proud of its heritage such as Khajurao, Kama Sutra and the likes. Vibrant Gujarat indeed!!! The Mahatma and Sardar Patel would most certainly cringe wherever they in their heavenly abodes. The question begs to be asked whether the institute should shelter and tolerate these people. Therein lies the root of evil that has been plaguing MSU over the last few decades. Instead of a focus on academic excellence, mediocrity in all spheres has ruled the roost. Academic excellence dipped, national grants disappeared, dependence on the state government increased, thus allowing any ruling party to exert extraordinary influence on the university’s governance, including the appointment of vice chancellors of their choice, irrespective of their credentials and standing, and most importantly their ability to enhance the organisation’s stature. We have a situation where syndicate/senate members are either political stooges or have been muzzled to rubber-stamp critical decisions that could undermine the university’s credibility and standing. There used to be a time when academic luminaries were syndicate/senate members, but not any more, as political inclination is a preferable prerequisite.

More disturbing is the rise in religious political fanaticism in what should be the tranquil surroundings of a flourishing university. Ishwar, Allah, Ram, does it really matter where education is concerned. One suspects that there is more to just immorality than meets the eye about the current fracas.

Students, teachers, deans of faculties, syndicate/senate members, the PVC and VC are all party for the above debacle which represents some of the murkiest depths an educational organization can dip to. MSU is now a laughing stock. One used to take pride in being a MSU degree holder. Not any more, thanks to a crescendo of mediocrity, breeding acceptance of all that is anathema to true democracy, freedom of expression and education. The manner in which this incident has unfolded reminds us of the Taleban in Afghanistan. Are we fostering and encouraging our own “talebans’ who run amuck protecting the society’s ‘morals’, while flagrantly thumbing their noses at fundamental societal rights and law? If this is so, are we encouraging a ‘superior race’ (shades of Nazism) who are irreproachable and not answerable to common law and societal norms.

Citizens of Baroda, students and teachers of MSU, show some spine and courage and stand up for all that is fair, truthful, legal and most importantly, what is necessary to reverse this downward vortex of destruction the organization is speeding through. March through the streets, express your feelings to the VC, syndicate/senate members, harangue the State Education Minister and Chief Minister, clog the internet and daily press. Remember, state elections are approaching and in 1974, MSU students were at the forefront of overthrowing the then state government. We are a proud state and have been prosperous too, but this needs to be bolstered by a robust educational system. While MSU is in the news, other universities in Gujarat will certainly have their own horror stories to tell. Mediocrity is like a delicate exotic fruit, one does pay dearly for scarcity. Why should Gujarat put up with mediocrity, as it breeds all sorts of evils.

PANTUL said...

Well such is life-- as i read this letter i wrote three years back--- feel dejected--Shivji is still suspended - three bloody years- the court case is dragging-- maybe forgotten-- his fellow colleagues-- teachers-- i am shocked dont realise that their colleague is still suffering this injustice-- students move on but teachers stay on--- the tragedy of MSU is simple that there are three types of teachers- 1. a small number who are part of the crap politics. 2. a minisicule section who voice opposition and then 3- the worst lot - who play safe and choose to stay away. in a way as long as their house is not on fire they dont care. god help them when their house were to be engulfed by an inferno. how i wish the teachers stood by their colleague and fought out like solid. if teachers cant be for each other wonder what they will teach the generations to come. a very poor example.

wish shivji panikar all luck and hope he comes out of this crap soon.

Pantul Kothari

Pratiksha said...

Dear Pantulbhai
You yourself have admitted that you had a pie in everything but ACADEMICS!! My dear friend, then how would you understand the functioning of an academic institution! Though i myself am not an academician,I can very well understand the human intentions, especially those which are malicious!! You have tried to come into limelight by trying to destroy the images of the higher authorities of the university.