UGC Orders Universities To Celebrate "Surgical Strike Day In Befitting Manner", Javadekar Says It's Not A Compulsion
On Friday, September 21, the Union HRD minister Prakash Javadekar clarified the University Grants Commission (UGC) notice that was sent out to universities regarding ‘Surgical Strike Day.’ Reportedly, the Union HRD minister said that it is not a “compulsion” and that it was only because of suggestions from students and teachers who wish to “commemorate the second anniversary of the surgical strike.”
We have not made any compulsions on institutions or students. We have issued a program because of suggestions from many students & teachers that they need to commemorate the second anniversary of surgical strike: Union HRD Minister Prakash Javadekar on #UGC circular pic.twitter.com/L4aAWi7Inf
— ANI (@ANI) September 21, 2018
‘Surgical Strike Day’
A notice issued by the University Grants Commission (UGC), dated September 19th, stated that Modi Government “has decided to observe ‘Surgical Strike Day’ on 29th September 2018.” The notice further outlined various activities and programs that can be conducted by the Higher Education Institutions (HEI) to ensure that this occasion is celebrated “in a befitting manner.” The notice can be viewed here.
This notice will be applicable to the 900-odd universities and approximately 38,000 colleges affiliated under UGC.
Celebrating Surgical Strike in a “befitting manner”
On September 29, 2016, the Indian soldiers conducted targeted attacks on terrorist camps after crossing the LoC as a retaliation to the terror attack in Uri, Jammu and Kashmir.
The activities suggested by UGC include holding special NCC parades and inviting “ex-servicemen who will sensitize the students about the sacrifices made by the armed forces in protecting the borders.”
A Multimedia Exhibition will be organised near India Gate on the ‘Surgical Strike Day.’ Also, it suggests that Multimedia exhibitions may be “organized at all the state capitals/UTs and important towns/cantonments all over India” along similar lines.
Moreover, it says that students should ”pledge” their support to the armed forces by writing physical and digital letters and cards. “The physical letters so received can be given to the nearest Cantonment or can be presented to the Army officials visiting various colleges for short meetings with the students. It will also provide Photo-Ops for the students,” states the notice.
Criticism of the method, not the message
On Thursday, the Punjab University Students For Society (SFS) said that the UGC notice smacked of “aggressive pseudo-nationalism,” as reported by The Indian Express. However, the Akhil Bhartiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) reportedly said that such events should be observed “all 12 months of the year.”
The SFS further said, “(this is a) manipulation of students by the UGC to serve the interests of the government in power at the Centre that wants to promote its fascist agenda.”
On social media, several people pointed out the hollow nature of this ‘celebration.’
This week only the Pakistanis slit throat of a BSF jawan before torturing him badly. Cops in Kashmir are getting abducted from homes and shot. And you want to celebrate “Surgical Strike Day”, making NCC cadets march in a parade? pic.twitter.com/QwPqk5u3i8
— Rahul Pandita (@rahulpandita) September 21, 2018
Media reports suggest that the govt is planning to celebrate the 2nd anniversary of ' #SurgicalStrike '.
Honouring the brave soldiers is welcomed, but using it is a tool for demonstrating 'political will' is unnecessary. pic.twitter.com/yeY4VcQH1s
— IndianDefenceUpdates (@defencealerts) September 20, 2018
Partha Chatterjee, education minister of West Bengal, said, “The Indian army has always been kept above politics and controversies. But now we are seeing that the BJP is trying to malign and politicise the Indian army. This is not right and we won’t support it,” as reported by The Times Of India. He added that the universities in Bengal will not follow this notice.
The Logical Indian Take
Although the Union HRD minister has said it is not a “compulsion”, still if UGC is issuing a notice, central and state universities will have to follow it unless they specifically refuse. Moreover, this issue is not about the sacrifice of soldiers or disrespecting the army. We, Indians can afford to have a good night’s sleep in our beds only because we know there are brave men and women who are battling the enemy fire and treacherous terrain for the nation’s sake. However, if the government is trying to use the sacrifice of soldiers as propaganda to serve its own interest then it is something which should be questioned. Also, these surgical strikes are nothing new. What is new is that in today’s era, even the secret ops are publicised.
The idea of celebrating ‘Surgical Strike Day’ seems rather forced in nature. One thing is that the proxy-war from across the border still persists. Secondly, according to Prakash Javadekar, seemingly UGC, acting on the central government’s order, issued a notice to 900-odd universities and approximately 38,000 colleges because “many” students and teachers “suggested” that they wish to commemorate the second anniversary of the surgical strike. The Logical Indian wishes that the government shows this much initiative on important issues like manual scavenging deaths, farmer suicides, health and education, intolerance and polarisation etc. when people raise their voices for the same.