How A Protest Began Strong, And Fizzled Out, Over A Weekend.

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Students argue that increased yearly intake should result in more facilities || Photo courtesy: Debsourabh Ghosh/The Manipal Journal

At the start, this article is not meant to hurt the sentiments of any MITians who genuinely believed in the aims and beliefs of last Saturday’s protest movement. At the same time, I want to ask all of you a few questions. That being: “How could a movement that started so brilliantly, fizzle out over the weekend?”

First, let us go to the roots of this movement. Unless you have lived under a rock this past weekend, everyone knows of the unfortunate accident. Ishan Nihalani, a fellow second year EEE student who had lost his balance while travelling on the footboard of a campus bus, that ferries students from various hostels to the academic section of our “prestigious” college, fell head first, and suffered a brain haemorrhage. He was rushed to the nearest hospital, and due to the prompt action taken, he is now said to be out of danger, and critical yet stable.

*Disclaimer: This is what was claimed by the university late saturday evening based on events explained later in this post*

Now, this is where the trouble began. MIT‘s honorable director, Smt. Kumkum Garg, visited the injured student at the KMC hospital. Consequently, she was believed to have spoken words that somehow, poor Ishan was responsible for his current predicament. She then allegedly, nonchalantly blamed the overcrowding of the busesthat led to this accident on the basis that MIT‘s students didn’t know any better and had they been punctual by setting off to class 10 minutes earlier, this accident would have never happened.

Hmmm… Really?  This is what you had to say ma’am? After all the stifling restrictions on perm times, horrible timetables, and discouraging measures on co curricular activities, this is what you had to say?  Well, history has shown time and again that all tyrants (not saying that you are one Madam, just letting you know what happens when words are attributed to a person in a high office) lost their mandate to rule over their subjects, only when their words spoke louder than their actions. True to the perverse twist of the proverb, some of history’s most prominent dictators and tyrants, Marie Antoinette of the French revolution era France, Muammar Gaddafi of Libya, and Hosni Mubarak of Egypt, have paid dearly for the words that they spoke in their arrogance. Like them, you too had to face the consequences for the words that were allegedly attributed to you.

Rumors of these quotes then spread like wildfire. Viral memes and status updates flooded Facebook. People called upon one another to take up this travesty. And soon enough, on 012, a large gathering of students assembled in the MIT Campus at the 10th block Basketball court. The Chief Warden, sent perhaps in a lax display of troubleshooting, buckled under the pressure. The Mob then proceeded to Smt. Kumkum Garg’s residence. People demanded that Smt. Garg show up, and upon the continued absence of any sort of response from the director’s side, proceeded to hurl abuses of the foulest kind. Things looked set to go violent at any moment, and then, finally, fearing the worst, Smt. Garg showed up. The crowd weren’t appeased by her perceived half-hearted apology. Registrar of the university, Dr.G.K. Prabhu then abandoned a function at MCODS midway to prevent the incident from snowballing further. The gathering then moved to the quadrangle, where the management of the college was cornered on various issues that had piled up over the years. Acknowledging defeat, the management assured that the students’ grievances would be addressed on Monday, 12 March 2012 at 12:30 PM and with that assurance in hand, the gathering dispersed.

How a protest began strong, and fizzled out, over a weekend. 1
Students Argue That Increased Yearly Intake Should Result In More Facilities || Photo Courtesy: Debsourabh Ghosh/The Manipal Journal

It was a celebratory atmosphere in MIT. It was as if India had won the World Cup again. People were in a self congratulatory mood. The student council, stung by this rejection of their role as an intermediary between the students and the management, was spurred into action. The SC, as it is popularly known, then opened a new group on Facebook. The Group was meant to gather all the complaints that the students had to discuss their grievances. Now, everyone was galvanised into finding each and every minute complaint that they had about college life.

And all through Sunday, the suggestions kept piling up.  Ranging from idiotic to the most thoughtful, the issues to be discussed were sorted out, “meticulously” as claimed by the SC. And then, almost unnoticed, the SC had issued a long notice on the SC Open Group.  Unnoticed to all, the gathering timing was postponed to 5:30 PM.

In our celebratory mood, we had forgotten about this crucial change in the course of events.

By Monday, 12 March 2012, at 5:30 PM this author for one, was excited about the prospect of the meeting ahead. Would we finally score some key victories? On Attendance percentage? On hostel dues? On mess facilities? Would the intake be reduced to a definitive number? All these and more were to be answered.

Then, the inevitable had begun.

I for one had been told that the gathering at the quadrangle on Saturday night was one of the largest gatherings ever, with the Revels fashions shows included. I had come well in advance of the meeting, anticipating a 1000+ crowd.

I could not have been more naïve.

Barely, 300 to 400 people had shown up. There, my friends,  and I call you friends out of genuine camaraderie and not out of thinly veiled disgust at some of the dignitaries,  was the first main reason for this movement to fizzle out. The University had played a clever trick on all of us. Like they had claimed in their speeches, the University knows us quite well. By organising a meeting at 5:30 PM, the University knew that most of us would be too “tired” to attend. They knew that we valued our evening tea more than pressing matters that we had raised. It was a clever masterstroke.

Secondly, the Student Council had shown a lack of spine. They could have insisted on keeping the slated time at 12:30 PM when surely a bigger crowd would have had the guts to heckle the “dignitaries” if they planned to weasel out on their promises. But no, they didn’t. The SC had pleaded with all of us to show patience with them, they pleaded us not to harass them by vandalising their hostel doors, by not heckling them in informal situations,  and in exchange they promised to represent us affectively. Dear Student Council Leaders, you have wasted an opportunity to earn loads of goodwill. Instead, you’ve proven yourselves to be the subservient chamchas of the college management that everyone had perceived you to be.

Thirdly, in the subservience and lack of a sizeable crowd, the authorities were now emboldened.  Starting from the VC to the Director, all the dignitaries had paid our grievances a mere lip service. The usual “We Care About You” dialogs were used, and most of the issues, such as student intake, infrastructure, pro KMC anti MIT discrimination, lack of in campus security and what not were swept under the carpet. The only positive to take was that the University had agreed to take care of the expenses of Ishan’s treatment.

The so-called interactive session was reduced to a farce. Instead of going to all these lengths, the University could have told us only two words, saving us our valuable time.

“Fill your dirty expletives and abuses here (Go **** yourselves)

Forgive me for the use of profanity, but this was the essence of their speech. The University did indeed love us, but for the mere fact that we are cash cows. We were seduced by them with that bull shit filled “Summer of 69” video, and having paid them for our “Education” we had sealed our fate. We had no right to question them, and like an obedient flock of sheep, we were to shear the wool of dignity to enrich their coffers.

Now, some of you might ask, why are we discriminated against by the University? Why aren’t we treated on the same level as KMC students? Well, let me explain this in an interesting way.

To the University, KMC is like a multiplex, and MIT is like a single screen theatre. Like a Multiplex, with its  AC screens, Dolby Surround Sound, Hygienic seating and what not, the KMC student pays a hell of a lot more than us. Hence, the red carpet treatment.

MIT on the other hand, is like a single screen theatre. Like any single screen theatre, the owners couldn’t care less if people farted, scratched themselves, pissed in the theatre, and what not, as the seedy films played. In essence, we are like the B team. We don’t matter on the cover page, but we matter on the remaining pages. We help them to create the image of this large and diverse university and blah blah yaddy yaddah you know the Deemed University bull shit.

And lastly, friends, we ourselves are to blame. Chetan Bhagat once famously said that we are a Facebook democracy. We like stuff, we tag stuff, and we chat and what not, but essentially, we are arm chair critics. We don’t really care. We don’t take the fight to its logical conclusion after beginning it. We just start it, and then become complacent enough. I’m not pointing fingers at any of you, but many of the people had a perceived feeling that went like this: “Hey, I was there on Saturday. Why should I go today? I have done my bit.” And that, is where it all fell apart. How a promising movement like this just fell apart.

P.S: These opinions are my own and don’t represent  that of ManipalBlog.com . First posted on my facebook wall .

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About Vinayak Prabhu 19 Articles
Change cant be given to you everytime. You yourself must bring change. A Student at the Manipal Institute of Technology

17 Comments

  1. Very good Article , Sheds light on many Issues.. 
    Its Not the Movement Or Leaders That has Caused a fade away in Struggle But its The Laziness To speak up For Opressed. 
    If we Need a change We have To be a part of it in its true Sense.
    The Problem with the US is That WE DONT KNOW WHERE PROBLEM LIES?
    Its not the UNAWARENESS that has Caused this Struggle To fade But “LACK of INTEREST” to fight for the justice..
    “In this Time of our life, EVen sitting Silent, is a support to oppressor”, This point Must be made clear among each of us..

  2. Well… this is a long article…
    First of all, I have been in manipal from a naive student to a surely more matured person… Manipal is not a heaven, but it is environment good enough for education…

    One thing for sure, the poor student Ishan Nihalani will have all of our sympathy, but whether the college is compensating the hospital bill is another matter which I have no rights to comment on.

    And what is wrong with meeting time at 5:30pm? To me, its the best time, where every students will be free, not in class. Come on, its not like 11pm in the night. I think the excuse that all the students will be tired, is non sense. I was a student before and I know, not all the students within the protest group on March 10th night stood for the poor student Ishan, for sure a lot of those students were just there to see the show. And since only 300-400 students showed up for the meeting shows only that much of students cared for what happened, and honestly, thats quite a lot of students already.

    Victory for what? did you guys stood up for the poor student Ishan and ask the college to compensate? Instead what have you guys been asking for, attendance percentage? hostel dues? on mess facility?
    First of all, let me tell you why most of western universities do not have attendance policy for lectures, because I have seen those students do study, they read, when they couldnt make it to the class and even though they dont have attendance marking for lectures, all of them turned up for lectures. And manipal students, even with attendance marking, went to Burnouts, Scooby or play snookers during class time (I have heard about them and seen them with my own eyes, especially MIT students), imagine what will happen if manipal removes the attendance policy? And one more thing, western universities askes for 95% attendances for laboratory, clinics etc… I have been through it, that’s how I know it.

    Secondly, hostel dues, dude, thats personal problems man, u dont want to pay them, go live on the street, no one is stopping you. simple as that…

    Thirdly, mess facility, Whats wrong with you? have you seen the KMC mess and the food they provide for KMC students? I have been to both mess just to try the foods, let me tell you MIT mess is 10 times better than KMC in matter of food variety, quality and even the surroundings. so stop complaining!!

    Lastly, you are right for once, not all of the students are drug addicts, alcoholics, or potential rapists. Once I was a students and I kept repeating the same thing. But let me tell you how screwed up manipal students are (ALL MANIPAL STUDENTS). In KMC, there is even a student died of drug overdosed (what do you call this? smart? mature?). and here comes MIT students, a PhD from Bangalore whose name I wont disclose, came to MIT for a conference, and he was arranged to stay in MIT hostel for 2 days, and do you know why he told me he was shocked? He told me more 20 students offered him drugs, smoking type, injecting type all sorts of them and there is even one student told him he knew how to mix them to achieve a better effect. what do you this then? 

    Well, lets be mature about this, here is the India’s law against drug possession:
     – Consumption of drugs Cocaine, morphine, heroin – R.I. up to 1 year or fine up to Rs. 20,000 or both
     – Other drugs- Imprisonment up to 6 months or fine up to Rs. 10,000 or both

    Shall we call the cops to search all Manipal’s hostels (MIT + KMC)?

    One more thing, shows some respect to the professors and your teachers, such as to Atlasshrugged.

    If the students are mature enough and knows how to utilize manipal’s resources, he/she can be a very successful person. you only know when you leave that place

  3. Just for once we need to show That the authorities can be bought to their Knees….

    if you make god bleed, the blood would drop in the water and the sharks would come…then you just have to stand back and watch as the world tears him apart!  

  4. I have been in Manipal for a total of 12 years as student and as clinical staff in KMC. The article above is typical of a one- sided rant. For the kind information of the author, the fees for a private medical seat in KMC is one of the lowest in the country. The author needs to check his facts before mentioning that. I have been in Manipal and watched MIT and other college students even before the author of this article has even passed out of school. Accidents such as this have happened in all colleges of Manipal and idiotic comments have been made by administrators before including by those of KMC on matters of KMC students deaths. My own classmate being one of such incidents. But, such incidents do not give any excuse to waive disciplinary and civic sense measures. I suggest the author go back to the MIT statistics of students who have suffered from accidents, suicide attempts, illegal drug usages and gang rapes about 10 years ago. Probably then he would understand why such strict measures of discipline were applied. Similar disciplinary measures have been implemented in KMC as well. When I was in my 1 st year, there was no hostel curfew, the library was open till 1 A.M and we could party all night long either in the hostel or in town. Those have all been discontinued since my 2nd year. So, I believe that the author’s comments are immature and stupid. I only hope he does not end up being a journalist.

    •  Sir,

      As per our policy, we require our commenters to maintain decent language in the comments and avoid any direct attacks on writers and fellow commenters. We agree, the post may not have been to your liking, however, as everyone has an opinion we are a platform to air the same.

      This is a student run blog and as such, most of us do it as a hobby and do not derive any monetary benefits and also are not looking to become journalists.

      A blog is a sort of web diary and these contents can contain any and every type of stuff.

      Thank you for dropping by.

      Dr.Vishaal Bhat
      KMC, Mangalore

    • Thank you for your kind words sir. At the same time, you have no business in my educational and career choices. Even if i become a journalist tomorrow, you have no business in harassing me for my opinions and beliefs, in such a crude manner, for there is a reason why we are a free speech democracy. You speak in such a self righteous tone, and yet you don’t realize that in spite of being much older than me as you claim to have seen the ugly side of Manipal even before I was out of school, you too are using the same “immature” and “stupid” and vulgar language that you accuse the students of my college, and the university in general of using. 

      Not all of us are drug dealers or addicts, not all of us are alcoholics, not all of us are potential rapists. Instead of critiquing my article in such a derogatory manner by hiding behind psuedonyms. 

      If you are so steadfast in your beliefs, I implore you sir, come out of your hiding, and let us have a civilised and dignified discourse on this website. 

      Regards.

  5. Hi all,
    First of all, I’m overwhelmed by the response this article has had. Now, a lot of you have questioned my outlook towards the events over the past weekend. 
    A lot of you feel, that I have portrayed a cynical and pessimistic slant to what had happened. 
    Some of you have admonished saying that I shouldn’t complain and I should have involved myself from the front. 
    To all of you, a rebuttal. 
    First of all, I’m an average student of MIT. Neither am I a student council member, or a class representative for that matter. I have steered clear of all political matters in Manipal from the past 4 semesters. It was this incident that spurred me into action. 
    What spurred me on was the callous reaction of the authorities to Ishan’s accident. 
    Many people who have stayed in the campus have complained time and again to the concerned authorities regarding the bus shortage. This incident, however unfortunate, was waiting to happen. 
    The very randomness of it all spurred us into action. It could have been any of us. We took to the streets, as peaceful as was possible, to demand an apology from the Director. Her continued refusal to address the crowd had brought things to the brink of a violent confrontation. I do not condone the abusive language that was used by the students in their rage. 
    Many of us wanted to make this a case for the many nagging problems MITians face in our day to day lives. We couldnt take being snubbed by the authorities lying down anymore. We had very high hopes from the Student Council which had requested us to be patient. The proceedings of the open meeting had to be seen to be believed. Although the VC can be forgiven for being diplomatic, the Director’s borderline apathy and disinterest in addressing us was insulting. The student council member (or whoever he was) who acted as an impromptu MC made a mess of it all. Ask any MITian who had been there. He or she would tell you the same. 
    I had written this article as a means to jolt those who had given the meeting a miss out of their slumber. We wanted to stir everyone’s conscience. We didn’t want the status quo to remain anymore. We want the MIT that advertised by the University, a place that was genuinely caring about the students, not the capitalistic sweat shop it has turned out to be. 
    In all my modesty, your very reactions are testament to the fact that we have succeeded in our intention to bring attention to the goings on in our college. With all due to respect to our seniors, we want some changes within the means of the system so that no just our year, but coming batches have a much more improved atmosphere in MIT.

    Cheers.

  6.  Instead of analyzing how a protest, fell apart over a weekend, why not plan the way ahead? Of reviving the same thing that dragged the director out of her bed. its easy to say, “We don’t take the fight to its logical conclusion after beginning it. We just start it, and then become complacent enough.”, but what have you done about it?

  7. People should change their attitude. We, Indian run with the society, if someone thows garbage in one place other will follow the place. If somebody spit in one corner, the very nextday that corner cant’t be tolarated.
    Each and everyone should take their own responsibility to change their own attitude whether it is late mark or indiscipline or corruption . Then we can Hope a better India after a decade.

  8. Protest is not always a way out of situation, it’s always suggestions, and discussions which lead to a better solution. Yes Totally agree SC is mere a pendulum which swings under the gravity of College Management, had they been Robust then things like this would not take Place.

  9. and i would prefer to keep my mouth shut regarding the quality of education at mit 🙂 dont want to be expletive over here 😛

  10. Dude…i completely understand your feelings, having studied in this place a few years back…try to bear it all (i know its tough!) and be optimistic that you will get a job after eight semesters here (many colleges in india dont even promise that)…

  11. arrey jab anna hazare jan lokpal na bana paaye toh tum student loag kis khet ki mooli ho. yeh toh hona hi tha. 

    • hum us khet ki mooli hain jise kha ke tere baap ne tereko paida kiya tha… sale chakke..chudiyan pehen le… netagiri pelne ki jaroorat nahi h… gand me dum hai toh kc pe mil… phir dalta hun mooli..

  12. I wasn’t there nor do I know much of the incident but I understand your sentiments. Your words bring out your feelings.
    Isn’t this the fate of all universities where, after admission, every student becomes a mere puppet for the management to get the fruit of ‘degree’? 

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