There is so much ado about nothing in the BJP’s plan to portray the so called ‘Bharat Mata’ in traditional attire in Northeast India. ‘Bharat Mata’ or ‘Mother India’ is a new concept brought in by the BJP after it regained political power in the country in 2014. In the past, we had ‘Mother India Biri’ for all those who wanted to smoke tobacco without any religious implication. But today under the BJP rule, we have ‘Mother India’ or ‘Bharat Mata’ with a religious connotation. One respectable scholar has enlightened me that the figure used by the BJP to represent ‘Bharat Mata’ is that of the Hindu goddess Saraswati. But in Hindu concept, a female goddess can be represented as Parvati, Lakshmi, Durga, Kali, whatever name used, even as the Khasis call ‘Thabalong’, according to definite purposes of divine interventions in the cosmos. All these female goddesses are consorts to the male god who may be represented as Shiva, Vishnu, Krishna, Rama, etc., The issue is still inconclusive as to who among them is the real Mahadev (supreme god-head), because it depends only on the claims of particular devotees to particular god-heads.
The Indian society in general does not respect women but always subdues them because they are human beings in flesh and blood, but once women enter into the spiritual realm through death, even through the suicidal ‘sati’, the spirits of deceased women become respectful, honourable, and even adorable. Temples have to be built on the spots where they died. It all indicates the social attitude that women in flesh and blood are not to be feared and rather held with disdain, but women in the form of ‘ghosts’ are not only to be adored but to be feared. This is a reality. Many seekers of spiritual enlightenment, not only among the Hindus but also among the tribals, are reported to have encountered with powerful female deities of the hills, the rivers, the caves, and what not. A human patriarch is powerful over female human beings, but finds himself powerless before these female spiritual beings. That is how we find in our Indian society, that though women in flesh and blood are treated as properties and slaves of the males, but more religious sacrifices are offered to female spiritual beings. It is a country of courageous and aggressive males with no respect for living females, but of submissive and slave-like males to female spirits. Hence, though Indian society today is in general dominated by patriarchy, it seemed more profitable for the males to represent the country as a female, ‘Bharat Mataji’.
India is a political entity, not a religious entity, hence, let ‘Bharat Mataji’, being a modern concept of Indian unity be only a political concept of democracy and accordingly too is not to be represented by any of the Hindu gods or goddesses, or by Mohammed, or by Jesus or Buddha or by any religious god-head in the country. Indian integration will come only through the process of democratisation in the realm of secularism, not merely by adorning a Hindu goddess in tribal attires, as this could actually be an insult, as the tribals, especially the Khasis who do not conceive God or the Divine, in human form whether in sari or in jaiñsem, but only in the ideal of U TraiKynrad (Lord the Master). This God intervenes in human affairs in mother-concepts of kaHukum, kaSynshar and kaHok, and can never be represented in the female or male form of a statue or a painting. So the BJP’s attempt to represent a Hindu goddess as ‘Bharat Mata’ by dressing her in tribal attire would only alienate the tribals further from the objective of making India a strong democratic and secular state.
NEHU’s anti-student attitude
The North East Hill University (nehu) is no doubt a progressive university producing great scholars through the decades and it will continue to do so. But there are certain issues that concern the University which have been neglected but which affect the students and their future prospects. Some grievances of the student community are the following:
In some courses the questions are not student- friendly because of the use of bombastic language. Hence much of our precious time is lost in just figuring out what the teachers actually want us to write about. Some students don’t even attempt the questions in spite of knowing the answer because of one pretentious word. That student ends up losing marks for no fault of his/her. This shakes our confidence as it stands in the way of our scoring marks despite knowing the answer.
The duration of semester, as we understand the word ‘semester’ is 6 months but in NEHU we have odd semesters from July-October (4 months approximately and another semester from November-April (4 months, with winter breaks in between of 2 months) . This makes it difficult for teachers to cover the course because of the short scholastic duration. As a result there is large scale infusion of facts and information overload which makes it difficult for students to grasp or retain. In some courses offered by nehu, due to reshuffling of papers, some papers which should form the basis of our studies are taught at the end of the semester while those that should be taught in the end semester are taught at the initial stages. How is this going to help us students?
We face difficulties in getting our papers re-evaluated since the time limit given is one month from the date of declaration of results whereas the original mark-sheets are distributed only after a month. It appears that this is done intentionally so that the students lose out the opportunity to seek re-evaluation.
Will the Vice Chancellor and those who claim to have the student’s interests at heart bring in the corrective measures sooner than later?