Chairman of the University Grants Commission
(UGC) Prof. Gamini Samaranayake has lambasted the university
student unions and sought to ridicule their leaders by saying
those who couldn’t get through their first year university
examinations are trying to teach the UGC and the university
authorities how to run the seats of higher learning. He has also
faulted ultra radical political forces for using students as a
cat’s paw to further their sinister interests.
One cannot but agree with Prof. Samaranayake.
It is not the voice of the ordinary students that we hear
through the student unions. We hear the voice of a bunch of
anarchists masquerading as the greatest democrats to have ever
inhabited this planet. They have hijacked the genuine grievances
of the students to gain some legitimacy for their political
Yesterday, a group of undergrads from the
Sabaragamuwa University led by the JVP student union staged a
‘sathyagraha’ in Colombo in defiance of a court order. The
police swooped on them and arrested some.
The main demand of the protesting undergrads
is that the Applied Science Faculty of that university currently
located at Buttala be shifted to the main campus at Belihuloya.
The UGC insists that it has nothing to do with that matter,
which, it says, should be handled by the university itself. The
Sabaragamuwa University says the buildings for that faculty are
under construction and it will take some time to complete them.
The translocation cannot take place overnight, the university
authorities point out, as there are not enough laboratory
facilities on the main campus. But, the student unions, true to
form, demand that their wish be granted forthwith.
Ironically, those who want their faculty
shifted in a hurry have not attended to their studies since last
August, when they launched a boycott of lectures over the
suspension of a student allegedly involved in ragging. The
Sabaragamuwa University is notorious for inhuman ragging. There
have been allegations of even sexual abuse during the so-called
rag season. The victims have been frightened into silence but it
behoves the law enforcement authorities to investigate such
allegations and bring the perverts to book. The only way to deal
with brutal ragging from which the sick minded sophomores derive
sadistic pleasure is to kick brutes out of universities. Should
others rise in defence of the culprits, they, too, must be shown
the door. There is no other way out. Half hearted measures have
manifestly failed to be effective enough to remove the scourge.
The anarchists encourage torture that passes for campus ragging,
as that helps psychologically condition students to blindly
follow orders. The JVP makes a grand show of its opposition to
terrorism but has it ever condemned campus ragging which is
nothing but a form of terror against the weak?
That the real objective of the warring JVP
student unionists is not the translocation of the Applied
Science Faculty is only too obvious. They are using undergrads
as a battering ram to beat the government. What the JVP does to
the government, which opted for a political marriage of
convenience with the outfit is not our concern. If you sleep
with dogs, it is popularly said in this country, you must be
prepared to get up with ticks. The government is paying for the
blunder it made, blinded by the lust for power. Our concern is
about the future of the country’s university system which the
anarchists are destroying from within and that of the students
who are being led by a group of revolutionary Pied Pipers.
The JVP is all out to make governance
impossible for its erstwhile Romeo (President Rajapaksa), who
has turned his executive back on it. Piqued, they are trying to
take him down a peg or two by defeating his budget in Parliament
while its mercenaries in the garb of undergraduates are running
riot outside. A student leader involved in the on-going protest
recently vowed to take trade unions out if the government didn’t
give in. He may have unwittingly divulged the JVP’s battle
plan—the mobilisation of students and workers against the
The JVP has reached the so-called glass
ceiling in democratic politics. On the other hand, it is losing
ground in the democratic mainstream and cracks have appeared in
its parliamentary group. It is evidently moving in the same
direction as the traditional leftists who have become a bunch of
political hitchhikers at the mercy of the SLFP. Over the
question of the forthcoming budget vote, the JVP parliamentary
group is said to be pulling in two opposite directions, swayed
by President Rajapaksa and his bete noire Mangala.
Perhaps, they may manage to put up a united front on Dec. 14,
but that won’t mean their problems are over.
A revolutionary movement in the democratic
mainstream is like a freshwater fish dumped in the sea—it
becomes a victim of its new environment. The last Local
Government polls demonstrated once again that the chances of a
third force emerging as a threat to either of the two main
parties were very remote. Should the Proportional Representation
system go, the JVP wouldn’t have a single seat in Parliament. In
any case, it is going to lose over 30 seats or more at a future
election, unless it coalesces with the SLFP again, which is
highly unlikely. So, for its survival, it has to regain its
former revolutionary self through agitations such as student
protests and strikes.
The JVP is not getting enough publicity these
days. It has also failed to grab the credit for military
successes. That may be one of the reasons why it is threatening
to shoot down the President’s war budget so that his war effort
will crash-land. By voting against the budget, it has forfeited
its moral right to advocate war, from which it used to gain some
mileage. Thus, today, it is without a cause to champion. Its
desperation for creating some media events to give the
government the jitters and eclipse the UNP and the JHU, which is
cocking a snook at it, is natural. Widespread protests and
strikes which push the government to suppressive action will
help the JVP achieve these objectives at the expense of poor
workers and the pugnacious undergraduates who are braving water
cannon and tear gas and, most of all, wasting their youth.
Those misguided workers and students deserve