Hey Madhav! Make education nirmal

15 Oct

The political brouhaha over Nirmal Madhav’s admission to Calicut Government Engineering College in violation of procedures, which led to police firing in Kozhikode, may have almost died down, but the vicious cycle will continue.

There is every possibility of a repeat in future, no matter who rules the State — United Democratic Front (UDF) or Left Democratic Front (LDF).

Nirmal, who was ranked 22787th in the 2009 common entrance test, got admission to the self-financing Calicut University Engineering College (CUEC) under management quota.

Alleged ragging by Students Federation of India (SFI) members forced him to shift to another self-financing college at Punnapra in 2010. But there too he faced the wrath of SFI members, who were angry at the allegation of ragging at CUEC.

With SFI mounting pressure, Nirmal quit the Punnapra college after two semesters and was granted admission to Government Engineering College, Calicut, in blatant violation of norms. Despite being ranked abysmally low in the entrance, he was admitted under merit quota and that too straight to the fifth semester. He was also allowed to shift stream from civil to mechanical and awarded internal marks for the third and fourth semesters in violation of university norms.

The Oommen Chandy government defended its action, saying Nirmal was given admission on humanitarian grounds. But the question is should norms be violated for one person, particularly since there’s no effective yardstick to measure the agony of ragging victims.

Will the government extend its humanitarian gesture to all ragging victims?

Students can also complain of unworthy faculty and lack of infrastructure in a self-financing college to seek admission to a government college. Will the government concede in such cases?

Hundreds of students suffer ragging silently every year because they don’t have political connections to secure a transfer to another college. SFI alleges Nirmal was given admission as he was the nephew of Alappuzha INTUC district president A.K. Raju.

The allegation, even if true, does not grant LDF a high moral ground. During its regime, too, there’re many violations in admissions to educational institutions (see box).

LDF criticising the Chandy regime on Nirmal issue is actually a case of pot calling the kettle black.
The solution is not blaming each other but putting in place an effective mechanism to thwart ragging. Do Kerala’s politicians have the will? Or will they continue with ad hoc measures such as shifting Nirmal to another college at Pattikkad?

Seeking my money back started attacks

Q: What was the reason for SFI’s animosity towards you?

A: I was being punished for trying to stand up against the SFI during my days at Calicut University Institute of Technology, a self financing engineering college managed by the Calicut University. The issue started when one SFI leader took money on the promise of getting me transferred to a college in Punnapra. The only wrong I did was that I asked back the money when it became clear that I would not get the transfer. The amount of `3000 was not a small for a student like me.

Q: What was the consequence?

A: What followed were brutal attacks. As the Calicut University Syndicate was dominated by the Left sympathisers, I could not do anything. A. Pradeep Kumar MLA of the CPM and the then Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan wanted to help me, but they were helpless in front of the might of saddist SFI.

Q: Didn’t you complain?

A: I had lodged complaints against ragging, but nothing happened. Subsequently, I was transferred to the College of Engineering, Punnapra. They harassed me there also.

Q: How did the present strike start?

A: After the present government came to power, I took up the issue with Chief Minister Oommen Chandy. P.T. Thomas MP was also of much help. Trouble started after the government decided to give me a seat in Government Engineering College, West Hill, Kozhikode. I had also got a directive from the Court asking me to attend the classes with police protection.

Q: Are you not afraid of taking on a strong organisation like SFI?

A: Once I had lost my courage. I even tried to commit suicide. It was after that I decided to fight.

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