Students, vice-chancellors and politicians have all hit back after the University Grants Commission released a letter telling vice-chancellors across the country to celebrate September 29 as ‘Surgical Strike Day’.
“The NCC units of all universities should organise a special parade on September 29 after which the NCC commander shall address them on the modalities of protection of the borders. The varsities may organise a talk session calling ex-servicemen to sensitise students about sacrifices made by the armed forces,” says the letter.
It adds, “A multimedia exhibition will be organised around India Gate on September 29. Similar exhibitions may be organised in states, union territories, important towns and cantonments across the country. The institutions should encourage students and faculty members to visit these exhibitions.”
While Delhi University refused to comment on the directive andJamia Milia Islamia deferred till Monday, members of the opposition have been vocal in their criticism.
According to ABP, West Bengal’s education minister said, “The UGC direction to universities to mark September 29 as ‘Surgical Strike Day’ is a part of the BJP’s “agenda” and educational institutes in West Bengal will not celebrate the day. The BJP-led central government is trying to ‘malign and politicise’ the Army.”
The Indian Express quoted a representative of the Punjab University Student for Society (SFS), as saying that the UGC decision to observe September 29 as “surgical strike day” smacked of “aggressive pseudo-nationalism”.
Congress member Kapil Sibal tweeted, calling the move “another jumla”.
UGC directs VC’s of all universities to celebrate 29th September as Surgical Strike Day .
Is this meant to educate or to serve BJP’s political ends ?
Will UGC dare celebrate 8th November as Surgical Strike Day
depriving the poor of their livelihoods ?
This another jumla !
— Kapil Sibal (@KapilSibal) September 21, 2018
The National Students Union of India, the Congress’ student wing, also condemned the order, and called it ‘government propaganda’ on Twitter.
On UGC's missive to universities and other higher education institutions to celebrate "Surgical Strike Day". This is not celebration of Army valour but Government Propaganda pic.twitter.com/DzxQm0NSsi
— NSUI (@nsui) September 21, 2018
Students from Aligarh Muslim University also opposed the decision and took to Twitter to express their opinion.
Here So called University Grants Commission (UGC) had ordered varsities to celebrate September 29 as ‘Surgical Strike Day’. What could be more madness than this order… Rest in peace universities https://t.co/5d9FBGF04c
— JaVid AhMad AhanGer (@1947Ahanger) September 20, 2018
NDTV reported that the centre has backed UGC’s decision. “We have not made any compulsion neither to the institutes nor to the students. We have issued a program because it was a suggestion by many students and teachers,” union education minister Prakash Javadekar said.
“And therefore on 29th of September, we have asked colleges – those who want to do – can arrange a lecture by an ex-army official who can describe to the student show the country gets defended… what is special feature of surgical strikes and how it was conducted,” he added.
Backing Javadekar’s statement, Jawaharlal Nehru University’s VC M. Jagadesh Kumar said that the varsity will observe Surgical Strike Day on September 29. News Agency ANI quoted the VC as saying, “We’ll be celebrating in JNU. JNU is very closely related to the defence forces. When our alumni go and fight for us at the borders, as a University, we must recognise their contribution.”
Feature Image Credit: Reuters