When I took admission in the University of Hyderabad way back in the nineties, it was considered to be a privilege to study there. The vast campus with serene natural environment was an attraction for students from different parts of the country. The rigorous curriculum and small student to teacher ratio kept the inmates engaged in academic activities and stimulating intellectual conversations. In fact, there was a campus gag that the candidates for university election were always concerned if they would be late for their classes on the election day. It’s difficult to tell many such stories, but it was normal to accept that students felt proud to study there, and received a great deal of respect outside. So, it makes me sad when I hear and see how politicians have intervened into the campus life at HCU (as the University is known usually).
Be it the thirteenth-century Europe or another thousand years ago in India, the culture of disciplined learning environment with free flow of ideas and thoughts have become a hallmark of human civilisation. The Buddhists-driven ancient Nalanda University was loved equally by people of different religions during those times; and in fact, was the place of great debate and innovations. Incidentally, two major religions based on materialism, Ajivika and Charvaka, had an established root in the subcontinent during that time. The decline of Nalanda and violent infighting between different Indian religions in the next few centuries coincided with the decline of Indian empires, and gradually drove the entire subcontinent into an interminable darkness.
Well, let us not predict such a frightful event at this juncture as we don’t perhaps have an educational institution of similar standard today. Perhaps, we don’t have to lose anything today. We can only gain if we make effort to build centres of learning where different religions can be discussed, where opposite thoughts can coexist, and where different fields of studies can synergistically collaborate.