The ideological polarization prevailing in society is beginning to take a toll on our educational campuses. We had JNU, AMU and BHU Controversies in not much distant past. The fanatic streak is not only disturbing the academic atmosphere in the campuses, but also depriving the student community of wide range of exposure necessary for learning and growth.

The case in point is the concocted opposition to a recent talk at the IIT-BHU by renowned spiritual guru Sri Sri Ravi Shankar. A motivated misinformation by a handful of students was misrepresented as resistance by the entire IIT-BHU itself in a report carried by an online news portal. The truth is that the spiritual leader’s talk was attended by a jam-packed crowd of 1500 people comprising faculty, students and alumni of IIT-BHU and it was overwhelmingly received. A huge crowd was waiting to meet him personally and thank him outside the Swatantrata Bhawan at BHU.

By arguing that Sri Sri is ‘irrational’ and ‘illogical’ the fringe gang of Students For Change (SFC), a self-proclaimed voice of students with no following tried to hijack this event and thereby the interests of thousands of ordinary students. Such concerns were not raised in past when  similar great spiritual leaders  were invited  to interact with the members of BHU community. The popular opinion at BHU is highly democratic and finds the motives of SFC in this case highly questionable.

When leading universities around the world are running Sri Sri’s programs and have invited Indian leaders like him to address their students, to call him ‘pseudo-scientific’ is a sad reflection of the shallow and outdated definition of rationality that is used to run down anything that is ancient and rooted in traditions.

It goes without saying that the youth of our times have high potential but need to learn life skills to be able to channel their energy into constructive pursuits.  They need time management skills when they are in college and stress management when they enter the corporate world.

The students of IIT-BHU are no different. Regular interactions with global leaders give students an opportunity to expand their vision and grow.

Youngsters chasing their dreams face not only tremendous academic pressure but also deep inner conflicts and confusions. With rising level of suicide and depression, it’s important to build resilience and strong characters in the youth. Yoga and meditation programs on campuses have helped many youth to come out of addictions and aggression. The formal system of education in India doesn’t teach our youth the wisdom of handling the ups and downs of life. In such a scenario programs it is self development programs like the Art of Living that are helping them achieve their full growth potential.

It is high time to drop the biased narrative that is unwilling to acknowledge and appreciate the contributions of spiritual traditions and leaders. Such an outlook has become outdated and irrational today.

It serves no purpose except to feed the political energies underlying theses narratives. Clarity of thought, openness of mind and willingness to embrace new learning should be the sole purpose of academic institutions. Let this ideal not get compromised in BHU, a 100 year old institution that has a richly-deserved place in the world-ranking Institutions.


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