Thinking in a 'nationalistic' box
Analysis, critique, and birth of potential public policies in cradles of higher education ought to be a norm and not a threat. The Central University of Kerala's proposition to streamline research in the favour of 'national priority' is at the cost of innovation coming from free thinking. Arguably, this runs counter to national interest of any constructive consequence. If Ph.D. scholars are not free to choose their area of study when that also is decided by the government, whose interest does this national agenda serve? Selecting from a shelf of topics prepared by each department, the purpose of undertaking a study at an individual level is rather manipulative on a larger level and exploitative in essence. Why is a student's capacity for selecting a relevant area of study doubted? Not only is this censoring free intellectual pursuit, it also reeks of malicious intentions considering where this is coming from - a Central university in a place where the Central government had hardly any say. It appears more like a desperate attempt of the Centre to mark its influence in any manner whatsoever. The alleged saffronisation of education is, conversely, a matter of national concern. A direct bearing of this will be the marginalised communities: the circular regarding research topics potentially muffles the voices of several marginalised communities. Any research undertaken in the areas of LGBTQ or Dalit or Tribal, for instance, will require explicit expression, elaborate discussion, and unhindered pursuit. These counter-Right wing occupations are what make many in positions of authority uncomfortable. When students (and people) are aware and informed about a lot of things, they can easily rise to challenge the government.
To concern oneself with matters of national priorities is explained to be areas pertaining to the economy, technology, food security, and social issues. Let us scrutinise this: are technology, food, security, economic well-being only the prerogative of some? If all Indians are equally entitled to these, then the marginalised communities are either cut-off altogether, or integrated in the mainstream – which is most unlikely. Further, there is a dire need to understand that studies and research in social sciences are what add value to progress in areas of natural sciences and economy. Without a robust social system, a technologically advanced country with a well-to-do economy will only widen the gap between the haves and the have-nots. The freedom to express must not be curtailed. The freedom of expression of artists and academia should be held sacrosanct. With respect to the national context, the Constitution encourages the inculcation of a scientific temper. Streamlining education is a most unscientific thing to do.