There has been a viral increase in the number of clashes between the law university administrations and students off late, throughout India. Constant allegations of lack of rule of law and fair administrative practices in the way law school administrations are working are doing the rounds, even as the student community is being blamed for being oversensitive to the University exercising its legal rights by framing suitable rules. In the ensuing conundrum, we have put ourselves in a Catch-22 situation, and the blame game is only tending to be escalating.
In this background, here is my humble attempt at writing to all the concerned stakeholders. I hope I can contribute my little part to the solution of this growing problem.
Wondering why I am writing this letter to you? Do you think it’s because of frustration, anger, resentment and ‘sheer audacity of youthful exuberance’? I do not know Sir, I do not know. The only thing I know is this: there are a lot of issues involved here: legal, social, cultural and emotional, and the solution is not as simple as it seems to be. So what is the ‘problem’ I am talking about here?
There have been instances in many a law school off late, of cold face-offs between the administration and the student community, pitting each against the other, only leading to bitter stalemates. Sir, initially when it all began, I did not comprehend the pervasiveness of this viral trend. But now, it is as if most of the legal educational institutions have been smitten by some overwhelming bug, which refuses to get off them. It is sucking the life blood of the hallowed spaces of education. It is diverting all of us, demoralizing us, confusing some, and bewildering the others.
Who am I to write this letter to you? Sir, I am that all pervading student, for whose sake you are striving day in and out to build a world class legal educational system in this nation. I am that student, taking whose needs into consideration, you are making umpteen additions to the education menu served by your institute. I am also that student who got bashed by you for no credible or valid reason. I agree, sometimes I am late, sometimes I do not turn up to attend classes at all, and, sometimes even if I do turn up, I just cannot bring myself to listen to the lectures. I know, Sir, I am imperfect. But, I am by no means irresponsible.
You may never agree on the point that I can be responsible enough to deal with my life, ‘within the boundaries of societal mores’ that is. But Sir, I wouldn’t stand any moral ground to write to you, if I do not mean what I say.
I still remember, Sir, how one evening, I was sitting in the library around half past 8, seriously working on my moot with my team mates, when you found it absolutely reprehensible of me to behave so irresponsibly. Why and how was I being irresponsible? I was the only girl, sitting there slogging it out, while the other 3 were guys! Wow, Sir! We study our Constitution just to write exams and essays and win gold medals and scholarships? How absurd can absurdity get? And, do you remember what justification I had been offered? “Dear (Indian) girl, you may as well be (up)right, but, what will the society think of you? Will the “society” buy your version of the truth? Three guys and a lone girl working till late in the night, doesn’t it send wrong impression about the institution?”. I had none by my side when this happened Sir. None.
Another instance, wherein a mere Facebook status of mine drove me to the edge of being rusticated from the University! Am I your enemy, Sir? Are you my enemy? You are supposed to be my friend, philosopher, guide. You are supposed to chisel me to perfection. You are supposed to be kind to me, because, we all know, change can never be brought forcefully. Aggression is mere vanity!
And yes Sir, whether we wear jeans & t-shirt, or shorts, or salwar kameez, how is it even going to matter? I agree, that dressing has to be decent. We are into professional colleges Sir, and we understand. But, putting a blanket ban on things which you don’t want us to do is clearly NOT the solution to the problem. It practically doesn’t work. We always find ways to circumvent the rules. The more rules you make for (or against?) us, the more we wish to break them, in the name of freedom, and we would only be hating each other more, and dragging each other to the battlefield, if we don’t stop blaming each other.
Please, do not stifle our voices. LISTEN TO US. Let Justice and only Justice prevail. And Sir, seriously, if you are thinking that we are trying to teach you what to do and what not to do, we humbly beg to differ. We do not consider it to be appropriate in trying to impose our opinions on you. These clearly ain’t our opinions Sir. They are the facts of our lives.
The times have changed. Gone are the days when elders used to have the last word, capricious though they may be. We breathe democracy Sir. The institution is for us, hence ours, and only our wants and needs are to be considered. They are valid or no, let there be an open debate about it. Why do I see fear in you? Fear of loss of authority? Fear of insecurity? Fear of utter bewilderment and confusion? Doesn’t your behavior resemble that of our political leaders? Does great power always have to corrupt greatly? Again, I am not alleging things on you. You are my teacher. My guru. I respect you to the same extent as I yearn to keep my heart and mind open to you and your ways.
Here I am, pouring over my heart to you, understand me, and empathise with me. I am willing to discuss with you, tirelessly. Be magnanimous enough of your position and stature, to grant me this one wish. HEAR US. LET US LET GO OF THE FEAR.
Waiting to hear from you soon Sir!
Yours humbly, respectfully, and truly,
A bewildered but hopeful student!
Pranusha Kulkarni is a 5th year student at Karnataka State Law University's Law School, Hubli.
Image from here.