Sunday 16 August 2015

Students' Fight for Academic Freedom

There are two interesting poems (Tagore's Where the mind is without fear' and A Mysterious Marriage by Freedom Nyamubaya - Zimbabwe) on the idea of 'Freedom'. As and when we celebrate 'The Independence Day', these poems ring the bells of our conscience. These ringing chimes pierce the soul when we read the stories of life of young students on University campuses. 

Once upon a time
there was a boy and a girl
forced to leave their home
by armed robbers.
The boy was Independence
The girl was Freedom.
While fighting back, they got married.
After the big war they went back home.
Everybody prepared for the wedding
Even the disabled felt able.
The whole village gathered waiting
Freedom and Independence
Independence came
But Freedom was not there.
An old woman saw Freedom’s shadow passing,
Walking through the crowd, Freedom to the gate.
Independence is now a senior bachelor
A lot still say it was a fake marriage.
You can’t be a husband without a wife.
Fruitless and barren Independence staggers to old
Since her shadow, Freedom, hasn’t come."

And our deep cravings for what Rabindranath Tagore said in this poem flares up, once agian:

Where The Mind Is Without Fear

Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high
Where knowledge is free
Where the world has not been broken up into fragments
By narrow domestic walls
Where words come out from the depth of truth
Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection
Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way
Into the dreary desert sand of dead habit
Where the mind is led forward by thee
Into ever-widening thought and action
Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake.

We can't escape from our memory of W B Yeats's these lines from 'The Second Coming'
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
    Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
    Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
    The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
    The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
    The best lack all conviction, while the worst
    Are full of passionate intensity.

And the journey which we began as a Nation on 15th August 1947 with the first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru who used to keep Robert Frost's  famous poem (Stopping by woods on a snowy evening) always before his eyes, sees no destination in near future:
And miles to go before I sleep,   
And miles to go before I sleep

It is the truth universally acknowledged that no nations can have FREEDOM, if their academia is not free. Any form of social equity, idea of equal opportunity, liberty or brotherhood must first be practiced (yes, PRACTICED, not merely PREACHED) on the University campuses. Then and only then, we can imagine these virtues to percolate in society and we can think of materializing Tagore's idea of Freedom. 

There is interesting movement for Academic Freedom

Its statement reads:

‘We, the undersigned, believe the following two principles to be the foundation of academic freedom:
(1) that academics, both inside and outside the classroom, have unrestricted liberty to question and test received wisdom and to put forward controversial and unpopular opinions, whether or not these are deemed offensive, and
(2) that academic institutions have no right to curb the exercise of this freedom by members of their staff, or to use it as grounds for disciplinary action or dismissal.’
Click to read more.

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