Tuesday, 15 May, 2007

Protest letters from UK

To whom it may concern:

I learn with the utmost concern of recent events affecting the Fine Arts
College in Baroda. The invasion of the university premises and the
arrest and jailing of a student obviously all form part of a concerted
attack on the free academic activities of an institution that enjoys a
world-wide reputation for the excellence of its teaching and the high
standard of its academic achievements.

For a number of years, while I was Professor at the Painting School of
the Royal College of Art in London, I was invited to teach in the Fine
Art Faculty at Baroda. I did so for several months, and remember this
period as being one of the most fruitful and rewarding times of my long
academic career.

It would appear to me essential that the competent authorities move with
the utmost speed to terminate any acts of intimidation and to restore
full democratic rights to a very remarkable Indian institution that can
be seen to uphold the quality and democratic freedom for which it is
justly renowned.

Yours faithfully,

Peter de Francia
What a horrific set of events and descent into chaos. It always appears that fundamentalists are still
the most afraid of the power of the image.

I am sending your e mail and info of events so far on to press contacts I have here to see if it can become international news.

I fully support your campaign and I hope that Chandra and Prof Panniker are vindicated in there actions for freedom for
the artist against this attempt to bully and to silence.

Best wishes


Dexter Dalwood
8 Angel Mews, London N1 9HH
tel: +44 (0) 20 7833 9962

We fully support Dr. Shivaji Panikkar and Chandramohan. I will personally convene a meeting a meeting on the 14th of May in London at the Central Saint Martins College of art and design in strong opposition to right wing politics. We will also approach the local press and try to publish any further news we get on this matter.

Please send us your opinions about this issue on the following ids so that we can display these messages in our meeting.

Those of you who will be able to attend the meeting at the Faculty of Fine Arts please oblige to photograph the event and send them to us.

Thank you,

HImanshu Desai

From: Mark Cazalet, Faculty of Fine Arts Alumni .

I am dismayed to hear of this extremely serious development at theFaculty.Is there anything I can do to help? Perhaps the validation of externalartists might cause local politicians to reflect on the status,influence and significance of the MSU FA dept. As you know I will bepermanently indebted to my eighteen months at Baroda, a life longcatalyst for my work, and vision of the great country and culturalpluralism that India contains. It sounds as though an entirely selfmade tragedy is underway whose end will be a regressive reduction from all that is vibrant and vital about MSU's work.

all best Mark


Sour Kraut said...

I appeal to all who are fluent in Gujarati to see to it that the local Gujarati channels and papers represent things in an unbiased manner. While the channels and news papers in the English language seems to be in support of the cause of Prof. Shivji Panniker and Chandra Mohan and the cause of freedom of expression of art, education and academic freedom the local media is doing all it can to support the fundamentalists.

It is indeed frightening to note that people who understand nothing about culture and art are taking a moral stand and having the backing of the university establishment.

It is sad to note that the person who is alleged to have assaulted Prof. Shivaji Panniker is an owner of a school that masqurades as an English medium school with a name like 'Hill Memorial School'. I think that having a goon in education is indeed disturbing enough but a vice-chancellor and the syndicate/ senate acting to the tune of such a person is somethign that I think could be labled as moral terpitude. I do not know what actions can be taken against an erring Vice-chancellor and syndicate/ senate members many of whom are co-opted because of right wing affiliations.

It is more disturbing to note, from the local Indian Express, that the Education Minister of Gujarat has supported the actions of the University against Prof. Shivaji Panniker.
I think that there ought to be a representation to both the centre and the state to stop this nonsense which is crippling academics and art.

I would like to know if a representation is made to the President, the Prime Minister, the HRD Minister, the Minister of Culture etc. and most of all the Governor. If not let us unite and make such representations.

SAMIR said...

U all fuckers your art is vulgar and not acceptable and whatever has happened has it for good

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.

लाल्टू said...

Indeed it is a battle against those who wish to make this country a Taliban land. Not only are these self proclaimed defenders of morality ignorant of rich tradition of aesthetics in our art, and culture in general, they represent the vile and filth emergent in recent times and that needs to be treated with utter disdain. Prof Panikkar and the faculty and students of the Fine Arts faculty have the support of overwhelming majority of thinking people everywhere and definitely a decisive victory awaits them at the end.