It is a victory for democracy that the Congress Government has made a volte-face and failed in in its authoritarian crackdown on peaceful protest. The crackdown, reminiscent of the days of Emergency, sought to redefine democracy; the volte-face gives immense hope that when people stand up in defense of democratic rights and against wrong policies, authoritarianism can be defeated. This historic occasion has to be seized to actualize effective institutional mechanisms to curb corruption at all levels and in all spheres through popular and determined protest actions.
The authoritarianism of the Congress Government emanates from its anti-people policies. The lack of political will to confront corruption is related to the coalescence of dominant political and business interests.
It is this coalescence that seeks to commercialise public funded higher education, impervious to its disastrous effect on equity, quality and independent thinking, only in order to facilitate profitability for private education business, domestic and foreign. This policy of commercialization of public institutions and privatisation of the higher education sector is at the root of a disastrous restructuring of academic programmes and institutions as well as teachers’ role in determining the contour and character of education and their service conditions.
The cynicism of the Government personified in Kapil Sibal has been exposed during the anti-corruption struggle. While, at the behest of the MHRD, the present Vice-Chancellor of the Delhi University has outdone his predecessor in forcing through changes in academic programmes without allowing academic debate and dissent, Kapil Sibal refuses to intervene, ironically, citing his alleged respect for University autonomy exactly the same way as he respected the autonomy of the Delhi Police in laying down conditions for protest against corruption. The present wave of protests gives us strength to intensify resistance to the Government policy towards education. A sustained struggle against Government policy is both required and possible. We are sure that the media will not uncritically accept duplicitous, vacuous and diversionary pretensions of the Government on policy issues and facilitate a debate on the serious issues involved.