EDUCATION MATTERS

Read the letters HRD ministry sent Hyderabad University about 'anti-national' activities on campus

Before Dalit scholar Rohith Vemula killed himself, Smriti Irani's department took a keen interest in the inquiry against his group.

As more details about the circumstances of Dalit research scholar Rohith Vemula’s suicide in Hyderabad University on Sunday have become public, students and teachers have begun to question why the Ministry of Human Resources Development chose to take an interest in what seemed to be a dispute between two student groups.

Students point out that the ministry sent at least four letters to the university about the case.

Vemula was among the five members of the Ambedkar Students' Association who were suspended by the university last year after a leader of the Bharatiya Janata Party's student wing, the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad, claimed that they had assaulted him. Though a proctorial board that looked into the incident found no substance to the allegations, BJP Minister for Labour and Employment Bandara Dattatreya wrote to the Human Resource Development Ministry complaining about "antinational, casteist" elements at the university. In an abrupt switch, the proctorial board found the Dalit students guilty.

The students were expelled from their hostel and barred from using university facilities.

Over the past two days, protesting students at the Hyderabad University campus have been demanding the resignations of Dattatreya and Human Resource Development Minister Smirit Irani for their alleged role in the affair.

On Monday, the Human Resource Ministry sent a two-member committee to the university to investigate the circumstances of the tragedy. Irani, meanwhile, distanced herself from the controversy on Monday and told CNN-IBN that the matter related to “law and order”, which is a “state subject”. The Central government does not intervene in the matters of university administration, she claimed.

“It is not a time for political blame game," she said. "It is an unfortunate incident and I express my condolences to the family who lost their son. We have sent a two-member team from the ministry who will apprise us on what prompted the student to take the extreme step.”

However, not everyone is buying this defence. Students claimed that Irani's ministry had sent the university at least four letters asking for action and progress on Dattatreya's complain.

“After the tragic death of Rohith Vemula, the MHRD has been trying its level best to pretend that it had nothing to do with the victimisation of Rohit and four other Dalit students in the University of Hyderabad,” said Ashutosh Kumar, Secretary, Delhi wing of the All India Students’ Association. “However, these letters clearly show that the MHRD too was actively involved in pressurising the University to act against Rohith and other Dalit students.”

This chain of letters started in September when Ramji Pandey, the Under Secretary with the ministry, sent the registrar of the university email asking for details on the case.

Here is the alleged correspondence, released by the All India Students’ Association.

A reminder was sent on September 24, asking for more details on the “anti-national” activities on the campus and asked the administration to “expedite” the matter.

On October 20, the ministry noted that the information had not yet been received.

The five students had already been suspended in September. In November, the ministry sought specific answers into the alleged attack on the ABVP leader and asked the Vice Chancellor to look into the matter personally.

Support our journalism by subscribing to Scroll+ here. We welcome your comments at letters@scroll.in.
Sponsored Content BY 

Following a mountaineer as he reaches the summit of Mount Everest

Accounts from Vikas Dimri’s second attempt reveal the immense fortitude and strength needed to summit the Everest.

Vikas Dimri made a huge attempt last year to climb the Mount Everest. Fate had other plans. Thwarted by unfavourable weather at the last minute, he came so close and yet not close enough to say he was at the top. But that did not deter him. Vikas is back on the Everest trail now, and this time he’s sharing his experiences at every leg of the journey.

The Everest journey began from the Lukla airport, known for its dicey landing conditions. It reminded him of the failed expedition, but he still moved on to Namche Bazaar - the staging point for Everest expeditions - with a positive mind. Vikas let the wisdom of the mountains guide him as he battled doubt and memories of the previous expedition. In his words, the Everest taught him that, “To conquer our personal Everest, we need to drop all our unnecessary baggage, be it physical or mental or even emotional”.

Vikas used a ‘descent for ascent’ approach to acclimatise. In this approach, mountaineers gain altitude during the day, but descend to catch some sleep. Acclimatising to such high altitudes is crucial as the lack of adequate oxygen can cause dizziness, nausea, headache and even muscle death. As Vikas prepared to scale the riskiest part of the climb - the unstable and continuously melting Khumbhu ice fall - he pondered over his journey so far.

His brother’s diagnosis of a heart condition in his youth was a wakeup call for the rather sedentary Vikas, and that is when he started focusing on his health more. For the first time in his life, he began to appreciate the power of nutrition and experimented with different diets and supplements for their health benefits. His quest for better health also motivated him to take up hiking, marathon running, squash and, eventually, a summit of the Everest.

Back in the Himalayas, after a string of sleepless nights, Vikas and his team ascended to Camp 2 (6,500m) as planned, and then descended to Base Camp for the basic luxuries - hot shower, hot lunch and essential supplements. Back up at Camp 2, the weather played spoiler again as a jet stream - a fast-flowing, narrow air current - moved right over the mountain. Wisdom from the mountains helped Vikas maintain perspective as they were required to descend 15km to Pheriche Valley. He accepted that “strength lies not merely in chasing the big dream, but also in...accepting that things could go wrong.”

At Camp 4 (8,000m), famously known as the death zone, Vikas caught a clear glimpse of the summit – his dream standing rather tall in front of him.

It was the 18th of May 2018 and Vikas finally reached the top. The top of his Everest…the top of Mount Everest!

Watch the video below to see actual moments from Vikas’ climb.

Play

Vikas credits his strength to dedication, exercise and a healthy diet. He credits dietary supplements for helping him sustain himself in the inhuman conditions on Mount Everest. On heights like these where the oxygen supply drops to 1/3rd the levels on the ground, the body requires 3 times the regular blood volume to pump the requisite amount of oxygen. He, thus, doesn’t embark on an expedition without double checking his supplements and uses Livogen as an aid to maintain adequate amounts of iron in his blood.

Livogen is proud to have supported Vikas Dimri on his ambitious quest and salutes his spirit. To read more about the benefits of iron, see here. To read Vikas Dimri’s account of his expedition, click here.

This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of Livogen and not by the Scroll editorial team.