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Fight ensues over renaming of JNU's library; ABVP for Ambedkar's name, SFI cries politics

G Suresh, SFI secretary at JNU claimed that the renaming of the library had no tangible effects on public education in India and was completely politically motivated.

, ET Bureau|
Updated: Aug 06, 2016, 10.25 AM IST
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G Suresh, SFI secretary at JNU claimed that the renaming of the library had no tangible effects on public education in India and was completely politically motivated.
G Suresh, SFI secretary at JNU claimed that the renaming of the library had no tangible effects on public education in India and was completely politically motivated.
NEW DELHI: Much frenzied debate has followed the recent JNU Executive Committee decision to rename the University’s Central Library after Indian reformist Dr B R Ambedkar.

The judgement came to pass after yearlong demands from right-wing student association ABVP. The ABVP presented three demands of which the last has been met- it asked that the school’s stadium grounds be named after Birsa Munda, the convention centre after former President APJ Abdul Kalam, and the main library after Dr B R Ambedkar. In addition to the renaming, the association also demanded that a statue of Ambedkar be erected and a floor of the library, complete with a photo gallery, be dedicated to him.

Responding to claims of politicising Ambedkar’s image as a reformer, jurist, and academic, JNU’s ABVP secretary Lalit Pandey said, “The left- AISA and SFI in particular- want to constantly politicise everything. This is not a political gesture, but rather a national, pro-India and pro-academic gesture.”

Although the administration has so far only agreed upon renaming the library, Pandey stated that the ABVP would continue its “struggles and protests” till all demands are met by the EC. “JNU has students from everywhere,” he said. “We want to make sure at least by his 125th anniversary, Baba Sahib’s thought and ideals extend to all members of the community, be they from cities or villages.”

In an exclusive phone interview with ET, the University’s registrar Dr. Pramod Kumar affirmed Pandey’s claims. “There is no political motivation behind this. We receive, for example, proposals to rename fields after Dhyan Chand, because he is a sportsman. Similarly, the library is being renamed for Ambedkar.”

When asked why the EC specifically agreed to rename the library on a campus that seldom names buildings after people, Kumar said, “Well we have a lot of Gandhi and Nehru names on campus, so why not Ambedkar? It is only fitting.”

Other student bodies seemed to disagree. G Suresh, SFI secretary at JNU claimed that the renaming of the library had no tangible effects on public education in India and was completely politically motivated.

“We all know that the RSS and BJP have encouraged ABVP to rename the library as a means of appropriating Ambedkar’s name on campus for the purposes of amassing votes. They are simply trying to make up for their failure in addressing issues of caste-ism and discrimination on college campuses by presenting him as an icon in name.”

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