Pune’s Film & Television Institute of India is once again in the limelight—this time for the supposedly draconian crackdown on the striking students in a midnight swoop. There is a sense of déjà vu among the Left-libbers and arty folks—the bearded, spectacled, kurta-wearing revolutionaries. The daarhi-chashma-kurta types. All their conspiracy theories about saffronization and fascist indoctrination have been confirmed—according to them.
The professional radicals conjure up weird theories, look for evidence to substantiate the outlandish assertions, lap up anything that even remotely could pass off as proof, and then go to town claiming to have been validated. A classic case of self-fulfilling prophesies.
Obviously, facts don’t matter in these situations. That FTII director Prashant Pathrabe was held hostage by the unruly students is irrelevant. “I was illegally confined. Asked the same questions again and again. They were abusive and disrespectful,” Pathrabe said at a press conference, a day after the local police arrested five students of the institute on his complaint.
Pathrabe said that about 40 students barged into his office and subjected him to the questions relating to assessment of the project reports. “They asked me questions and said that if I can’t answer them, then I am inefficient and not eligible to sit in my chair,” the FTII director said.
What on earth is happening out there? Who, pray, are the students and who are the authorities? First, the students don’t accept Gajendra Chauhan as chairman of the institute, and now they question the competence of the director! Are they know-alls? If yes, why do they need an institute in the first place? If not, which is the case, how can be claim to get the top officials of their own choosing? Which other institute of higher education in India—or, for that matter, anywhere else in the world—can allow such preposterous demands and such despicable rowdiness?
The Opposition is just showing a conspicuous lack of propriety and perspicacity by adding fuel to the fire. So, Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi feels that the midnight crackdown symbolizes nationwide repression. He said that “our creativity is being suppressed and crushed” under the “RSS/BJP education model.”
His party colleague Manish Tewari talked about “naked fascism” and “undeclared Emergency.” This coming from the leader of the party that gave the country its only brush with dictatorship!
Not to be left behind is Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal promised to provide temporary venue for the FTII classes to be held in the national Capital. Few have forgotten that, quite apart from the idiocy of offer, Kejriwal is known for observing promises in the breach.
While the political class is just opportunistic, the film fraternity seems to comprise mostly uneducated, semi-educated, and badly educated people. Oscar-winning sound engineer Pookutty, who is a member of the anti-Gajendra Chauhan gang, tweeted, “Police arrive in the middle of the night at #FTII, arrest 40 students. So are they really anti nationals?!or are Police implementing orders.”
The bloke knows that the job of the police is not just to arrest anti-nationals—and there are many anti-nationals too in the FTII stir—but also to maintain law and order. You cannot detain and harass the director of a publicly-funded institute and expect the authorities to look the other way.
Music composer Vishal Dadlani said, “Never seen a government fall so low, so quick. Family-packs of lies being sold as achievements, while freedom is crushed daily. #JaiHind #FTII.” Even if you ignore bad English, you cannot miss the deceit in the fulmination: Dadlani’s heart bleeds for the goons who arrested, but not for the poor Pathrabe who was harassed and bullied by them!
Shahid director Hansal Mehta said, “‘Disobedience is the true foundation of liberty. The obedient must be slaves’—Henry David Thoreau -#FTII.” What Mehta doesn’t tell, or know, is the fact that Thoreau was a proponent of limited government; and if Mehta really believes in Thoreau and thinks that the great American thinker should be heeded to, the FTII, a taxpayer-funded body, has to be folded up. Which won’t be a bad thing.
State-funded hooliganism and subversion can’t be allowed beyond a point. The only alternative to this is a tough, uncompromising stand against the agitating students. They should not only be rusticated but also prosecuted.