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IIT-B students accuse ‘The Wire’ of writing baseless story to tarnish image of their institute

On 11th August 2018, Prime Minister Modi addressed the 56th convocation of the Indian Institute of Technology-Bombay (IIT-B). In an over 30 minute speech, Prime Minister Modi announced a Rs. 1000 crores aid for the institute and hailed its startup innovation. PM Modi said that due to the continuous effort of the past 6 decades, IIT Bombay has made its place in the country’s selected institutions of eminence. “IITs have built Brand India globally. IIT students are at the forefront of some of the best startups in India”, added PM Modi.

For any student, it would be quite the honour to have the Prime Minister of the country address their convocation ceremony, a day which holds special importance for any student. However, a leftist propaganda website dampened the mood when it published an article headlined “IIT Bombay students question the decision to invite Modi to Convocation ceremony”. Amongst questioning what the government has done, this anonymous group of students, according to The Wire asked whether the Prime Minister wants education for all, or is he more interested in “promoting the Brahmanical idea of education only for a few people, belonging to upper caste and upper-class backgrounds”.

The anonymous students have also, according to The Wire questioned Prime Ministers’s silence on hate crimes in the country.

The Wire used these students and their statements to paint a picture of the entire institution being unhappy with the decision to invite PM Modi for the convocation. They also said that the students wished to stay anonymous because they feared a backlash.

However, this does not seem to be the case.

Senior Fellow at IIT-B, Raghav Pandey took to Twitter to call The Wire’s assertions an outright lie. He asserted that no such statement has been issued by any student body of IIT-B. He also said it is shameful for a media house to individually talk to a few students and publish that as the larger view of the students.

When we reached out to Raghav Pandey he reiterated that he blamed The Wire for tarnishing the image of the institution.

Many students took to Twitter to express their displeasure against The Wire. Umesh V. Dhumal, who says he is a PhD student from IIT-B wrote that it was an honour to host the Prime Minister and The Wire should not be taken seriously.

Amrendra Pratap Singh, another senior student who graduated yesterday said “IIT-B is a peaceful university. There is no politics in our campus and this story is baseless. There might be a handful of students who have issued these statements but those students are inconsequential and irrelevant. They don’t even matter. Ours is not like Hyderabad University”.

Anant Kasodekar, who is a second-year undergraduate student said, “The Institute has several official student bodies do good things they are still being defamed by these unofficial groups for no reason. They are trouble makers and tarnish the image of the university”.

Luvi Tyagi, who is a PhD student in IIT-B said, “Defaming the premier institution and questioning their credibility is a new attire of left politics in campuses. In the name of humanities, these people enter these institutions for propaganda and try to spoil the image that is achieved by the eternal efforts of students who dared to achieve the JEE ranks. These institutions exist due to these students and experts that IIT recruits to train them for the indigenous technological dependence of nation not due to “The gangs of Wire” active in IIT’s”.

Some students, who wish to stay anonymous for fear of backlash revealed that the student group that has perhaps issued the statement is APPSC – The Ambedkar Periyar Phule Study Circle. One student, on condition of anonymity, told us that “these kinds of groups needlessly create trouble in the campus and create instability in the institute by talking about caste and religious issues that have no importance in student life”.

“Our campus doesn’t have politics. When we have student elections, unlike in JNU type campuses, we don’t have party-affiliated organizations. This is an attempt to poison the academic atmosphere. I don’t trust ‘The Wire’ at all. Aren’t they same publication that tried to bring caste into cricket? now they want politics into IITs,” said another student, who didn’t wish to be identified fearing troll attacks, told OpIndia.

Another student, when questioned about the assertions in The Wire article, simply told OpIndia to read the HRD brochure about IITs and insisted that “the propaganda spread by such websites must be countered with the truth”.

A second-year student, who wishes to stay anonymous, responded with this short note :

It was a long and busy day here at IIT Bombay. Graduating students in their white attires wearing ‘Utariyas’ around their necks, enthusiastic about finally getting a degree for which  they had been working so hard. The noise of the helicopters, the roads sealed by police and the security force. And well ofcourse the chief guest – PM Narendra Modi. With the Convocation Day for the Diamond Jubilee year finally coming to an end, the institute retired to rest from all its hassle that lasted almost a week long.

Evidently, not all students were as excited about the invitation to Prime Minister Modi for the ceremony. It was obviously an honour for the passing out students but they too had to go through a lot of security procedures-inconvinient but justified. Afterall you are talking about the country’s PM here. Back in 2012, following the then PM Dr Manmohan Singh’s visit for convocation, helipads installed in the gymkhana grounds were not removed for weeks. This hampered sports practices until when the students themselves decided to remove it. This time though the Dean of Student Affairs ensured that measures to remove the helipads have been implemented which would ensure that the practices can resume in about 25 days. Given the monsoon season anyway, not much has been expected to be interrupted. As for the fact about convocation hall’s capacity, I don’t really relate it specifically to PM’s visit except for a row or two of extra VIP seats. This matter needs to be addressed for the future too.

Whether or not the Juice is gonna be worth the squeeze is yet to be anticipated. Its the human psychology at play that the negatives are more easily spotted and remembered than the prominent positive ones.                                                                                                                                                            

We tend to find the silver lining in the cloud. Maybe we should also consider the possibility of a silver cloud with a grey outline. 

In addition to IIT Bombay’s recently given titile “Institute of Eminence”, PM Modi declared a financial aid of Rs.1000 crore calling the institute as “Indian Instrument of Transformation”. Throughout the years IIT B hasn’t failed to impress the world with its innovations, ventures, scholars and what not. This is just an unofficial yet prominent account of the same. The exhibition of tech-teams is yet another example of the same. Obviously this media coverage is gonna create a brand name for IIT Bombay in the field of tecnological innovations throughout the country .

PM Modi has always been able to establish an emotional connect with his audience and he did the same this time with his astonishingly well researched speech. This was obvious when he refereed to the fact that students here share the campus with crocodiles and leopards.

As much as I’d like to agree with his statement of “It is still August but I’m sure that the mood is Indigo today”, I think it would be best to leave it to the students of IIT Bombay to decide if it actually is.

By all accounts, it does seem evident that ‘The Wire’ took the statements of a few students and painted the entire university with it. Even a handful of students have a right to express their dissent against the Prime Minister. The fault, however, seems to lie with the portal for not giving its readers all the information to discern for themselves what they want to believe and what they don’t want to believe. The fault also lies with the portal for painting the opinion of a few students, who are admittedly radical left, as the opinion of the entire university.

This is not the first time that the media has used student statements and campus politics to further their own agenda by giving its readers half information. The media had earlier also tried to hide the Left’s violence in Ramjas college and reported selectively about a student beaten up for eating beef in IIT Madras. The media conveniently forgot that it was the Leftist student who had first injured another student.

In the meantime, the students who graduated yesterday seem happy and rather satisfied with the convocation ceremony.

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Nupur J Sharma
Editor, OpIndia.com since October 2017

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