After JNU, Modi govt shifts focus to IIMC and Allahabad University for politics of saffronisation


In a bid to strengthen its grip on educational institution, the Narendra Modi government has now turned its attention to the IIMC-India’s premier institute to teach media studies in Delhi.

As expected, the government is once again relying on Vivekanand International Foundation, an RSS leaning think-tank, which has given Modi several high profile civil servants.

Very early in his regime, Modi picked up Ajit Doval and Nripendra Misra as his National Security Advisor and Principal Secretary respectively.

In Misra’s case in particular, Modi defied all criticism and changed the existing law to ensure he was recruited as his principal secretary.

Modi government has once again fallen back on yet another VIF product, this time to head one of India’s most reputed media institutes.

IIMC, which has been a battle-ground for an ongoing tussle between liberal faculty members and the BJP-led central government, has been in need of a new Director-General for sometime.

The government has reportedly shortlisted three names including one KG Suresh, who is currently working as a senior editorial consultant in Doordarshan, India’s public broadcaster.

Suresh, according to I&B ministry insiders is all set to land the coveted job to head the IIMC. Suresh, was with the VIF, before being hired as a consultant in April 2015.

Turmoil in IIMC

On Friday, a senior faculty in IIMC Amit Sengupta shocked everybody by resigning after the Information and Broadcasting ministry issued his transfer order to an Odisha-based institute because of his support for Rohit Vemula, FTII and JNU students.

Sengupta, an associate professor of English journalism at IIMC was issued a transfer order for a posting on Dhenkanal campus on 1 March. Protesting against this arbitrary order, the professor sent in his resignation on Friday (4 March).

In his email, Sengupta, former president of the JNU Students’ Union, lashed out at the administration for reducing the institute to ‘handmaiden of vicious and undemocratic regime.’

Sengupta’s transfer order had followed another controversy on the campus involving a Facebook post by a student insulting Dalits. The inquiry committee found the student guilty and suspended him for three weeks. But the same committee also suspended another student, who had originally lodged the complaint, allegedly for sending expletive-laden text message to a faculty member.

IIMC, next target for saffronisation attempt?

His appointment had raised plenty of eyebrows as after coming to power, Modi government had promised to get rid of 300-odd consultants, who were working for the DD and All India Radio with their salary ranging between Rs 1 lakh and Rs 3 lakh.

Suresh’s appointment for a lucrative role in DD did not come in isolation.

In October 2014, Modi government appointed Surya Prakash, a former editor with Zee News and a consulting editor with the BJP leaning Pioneer, succeeded Mrinal Pande as the chairperson of Prasar Bharati.

Call it a coincidence that Prakash too was associated with the VIF before he was picked to head the Prasar Bharati.

This decision prompted many to suspect the Modi government’s intention to compromise the objectives of the Prasar Bharati and why the body was created through a law in 1997.

The sole reason behind creating Prasar Bharati as a statutory autonomous body was  to manage Doordarshan and AIR and to ensure the editorial independence of the two broadcasters.

But, if the UPA-led government was guilty of usurping this independence, the Modi government has now gone a step further in hiring people with Sangh ideologies at key posts.

This was evident how the I&B ministry went about expressing its intention to fill the four vacant nominated posts of Prasar Bharati board last year. As part of the central government’s decision to revamp DD it released four names under consideration for these posts. They were Ashok Tandon, former media adviser to Atal Bihari Vajpayee; Anup Jalota, a singer who is a member of the BJP; journalist Minhaz Merchant and Bollywood actress Kajol, whose actor husband Ajay Devgn had campaigned for the saffron party in Bihar assembly elections.

These decisions chime well with the RSS agenda of implementing Hindutva ideologies in media institutions and campuses of repute across India.

As we speak, the central government is already being accused of interfering with the students’ politics of Allahabad University.

It’s first female president Richa Singh has made sensational allegation that the central government through its motormouth MP, Yogi Adityanath, and the ABVP was trying to harass her.

Richa was once responsible for not allowing Adityanath to enter the campus.

(With inputs from Hindu, and Caravan)