Wednesday, February 1, 2023

Suicide of Vishal Tandon: the Inhuman Side of Universities


It is unfortunate that Vishal Tandon who is a well-known queer artist and activist committed suicide when his contributions started getting recognized by the public. He was a research scholar at Centre of Women Studies at Hyderabad University. His research was about “Muslim Masculinities in Crisis: A Queer Reading of Hindi Films”. No doubt that it is a challenging topic; but research on this area is highly demanding too. Vishal belongs to Belgaum district of Karnataka. On 1st July, Saturday afternoon around 3.30 pm he jumped from the 14th floor of his flat named Aparna Sarovar in Nallagandla. On the basis of evidences, it is possible that he was under ‘extreme stress’. An e-mail he sent before committing suicide noted that he was completely insecure about his future. Insecurity about career can be expected to be the prime reason behind his death.
Why our public spaces are inaccessible as well as insecure for many of its participants? Why the numbers of suicides happening in our universities increase recently? The truth is that our universities are discriminatory towards and hence inaccessible for the weaker. The weaker in terms of religion, caste, gender, language and all others plus emotion too. He is the latest victim to show that our state and society did just nothing other than doing paper works and verbal exercises in order to ensure justice at public spaces. The university officials already took the excuse that the university had nothing to do with this ‘murder’ but they forget that our entire society is answerable to each crime happening here. it is not the first instance happening in our universities. Why our renowned institutions fail to address emotional stigmas of its members?
Institutions of higher education are not different from the others. These institutions fail to create the expected metamorphosis in a student who carry the ill thoughts and limitations into institutions. It is the collective consciousness of universities which changes the outlook and approach of its members. But it is just unfortunate that most of our universities neither have any such progressive vision nor any mechanism to develop it. Our universities unfortunately act like coaching institutes for career options, instead of organic production of knowledge. Hence those who fail to fix into such equations have to either compromise or leave such spaces.
A university cannot mechanically approach its subjects through attendance, certificates etc. It should be able to observe, note, understand, approach, communicate and resolve any issues that it’s subjects goes through. There should be mechanisms in order to ensure such facilities and functions effectively. We cannot forget that research scholars and students in general are subjected to exploitation by their guides through continuous evaluation. Pleasing guides and teachers makes students highly stressed often.
We cannot accuse mobile phones and globalization which makes personal relationships weak and hollow here anymore. It is not accusations but solutions required for better living. 
Universities are expected to create and maintain CASH (for gender justice), Equal Opportunity Office (for creating socially conducive atmosphere), representative unions, placement cells, translation cells, counseling centres etc. They are not luxuries but fundamental to create an organic, progressive, democratic university. Creation and effective working of such facilities can make our universities safe and secure than before.


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