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The unbearable heaviness of Being.


I know that I haven't been writing this blog for sometime now.  It is not as if there is nothing to say.  Very much to the contrary there are too many things playing on my mind and sometimes the whole thing is so depressing that one feels that exercises such as making blog posts are futile.  I have realized that my blog is essentially a rant, perhaps nothing wrong with that in itself.  But somewhere down the line I have been feeling that as a person I have done precious little constructively and therefore I have taken up an initiative called on the web.  This is meant to be a resource for students and perhaps even teachers and I have successfully roped in some academicians of repute to contribute to the site, even if it meant that they will send me only their old articles.  The website is up and running and what has been heartening is that a few people are actually reading up things put on that site.  I would request readers of this blog also to have a look at that site and come up with suggestions and if you are academicians yourself please send material that can be put up on the site, for that would immensely benefit students of universities such as mine (Osmania University) where teaching is a rarity owing mainly to the incompetence of the faculty.  As I have repeated ad nauseum there are many such universities in this country and I am sure the students of those universities will benefit as well (though I have no idea exactly how, I am just going by the idea that good researched material or well written lessons will somehow benefit students).  However, even doing something "constructive" like this and planning for more such initiatives has not in anyway lifted the unbearable weight that I feel on my shoulders.  There are reasons for that.


When I go to my university what I see is just rot and the smell that I get is that of academic putridness.  Let me substantiate this point.  It really hurts to see that the Government of Andhra Pradesh treats education as the last of its priorities.  Universities have been around without full time Vice-Chancellors and therefore people within the universities are doing what they please.  Universities in Andhra Pradesh have become drift wood in the cesspool of dirty politics.  I read of the appointment of the Vice-Chancellor of the Central University of Hyderabad and was quite happy to see his qualifications and what he did in terms of research.  I was a student of that university in the days when I was doing M.Phil and initially registered there for my Ph.D as well.  What was impressive about the place was that Vice-Chancellors were people of stature, those who were internationally renowned in their disciplines.  They were also committed to excellence.  Some of the Vice-Chancellors of that University also continued publishing research papers even though they were fully caught up in the administering of the University. The same is true even of the Jawaharlal Nehru University of which I am an alumnus, having done my M.A. there.  When I compare the calibre of people who have been Vice-Chancellors of these universities and other Central Universities with that of the Vice-Chancellors of the state universities what I see is the difference between heaven and hell.  While the former might not exactly be heaven, the latter is most definitely hell, a veritable nightmare for anyone wanting to do something useful for society.


I have always lamented the amount of dead wood in my university which goes in the name of teaching staff.  Like the Vice-Chancellors (there have been some exceptions to this, I request you to note), the teachers of the university have no business even administering or teaching students in kindergarten.  I say this because they will teach young minds how to look at another person as entity belonging to a certain caste or religion or region and will make them divide themselves on those lines.  The casteism that one sees in university campuses of Andhra Pradesh will shock even those who think they have seen the worst.  One university puts up not only the names of faculty members but also appends the names with castes.  When I asked why this was done, I was told that this would facilitate people of one caste inviting other people of the same caste to selection committees and such things in other universities.  But all this is old hat, so why do I fee this unbearable burden on my shoulders?


To understand that you will have to pay attention to this anecdote that I will now narrate.  I crave your indulgence in this matter.  Under severe pressure from bodies such as the NAAC and the UGC, the Osmania University last year, finally introduced the now universal academic credit system which makes it easier for students to be evaluated by other universities in different parts of the world and also provides possibilities of not having to repeat certain courses.  The then Vice-Chancellor for reasons best known to him projected this as his own innovation.  Osmania University has been inbreeding for decades now.  So most of the teachers believed him and arraigned themselves into two groups; one supporting him and the other opposing him.  The opposition or the support had nothing to do with the Choice Based Credit System (CBCS from now on).  It had everything to do with the personal likes or dislikes towards the Vice-Chancellor, of people in the teaching community of university.  The teachers union President once a lackey of the former Vice-Chancellor has been fighting for the removal of the CBCS system without even knowing that the system is now mandatory and the university has little choice about its implementation.


The acting Vice-Chancellor of the university called for a meeting a couple of day ago, of the Heads of Department and some other faculty members to iron out the issue.  I was deputed by my Head of the Dept to attend the meeting on his behalf.  And I wish I never accepted doing that.  The meeting was just a political meeting with everyone talking about all things except the CBCS system and when the system was discussed it inevitably led to flared tempers and name calling.  Another issue was admissions to PhD courses.  Just a couple of months ago the university completed admissions into the PhD courses and gave admissions to more than 1700 students!!!!This is over and above those who are already registered for the same in the university.  This number could be reached due to successfully bringing down qualifying mark for eligibility to 15 out of hundred.  And one Dean was saying that we have to give more admissions.  Already the PhDs from Osmania University have become cut and paste jobs thanks to the internet and now the process will gain impetus.  I don't want to continue in this system but if I quit I lose my livelihood.  And now under the stewardship of an academician from my department the political joint action committee is planning agitations again from the end of June.  This means the continuation of the no work situation.  But we take salaries and that makes me feel guilty as hell, for I know there are people who work twelve hours a day and don't earn as much as I do and there those who are laid off even when they are willing to work.  Everyday when I see vegetable vendors, street side hawkers, construction workers and such others braving the summer sun and taking a pittance home, my very being cringes with guilt.  I think I am due for some severe punishment in my next life and that punishment will be well deserved.


P.S:  Have not proof read so please excuse me.