‘Why We Need Teachers Like Chaudhuris And Ghosh’ screamed the headline.
Beneath it, a proof-read version of professor Manojit Mandal’s Facebook status update. Each typological error, each grammatical oversight highlighted and numbered. The helpful editor then goes on to suggest the correct usages. This could well be a master class for aspiring sub-editors, except that it’s not.
What Eastern India’s favourite newspaper aims at is something more sinister. It shames Manojit Mandal, a Dalit professor of English at Kolkata’s Jadavpur University, by making him out to be a cautionary tale. “The poorly drafted post by Mandal, a teacher of English at JU, proves why we need gifted teachers like the Chaudhuris and Ghosh so that the students do not repeat the mistakes of government nominees like Manojit Mandal.”
What was Manojit Mandal’s Facebook post about?
Aspiring students of Kolkata’s reputed Jadavpur University (JU) are at loggerheads with the college authorities, following the latter’s decision of scrapping the policy of admission to six humanities subjects on the basis of entrance examinations.
The aspirants, according to the new policy, will be enrolled on the basis of marks scored during Class XII board exams. The policy is already in place for admission to science stream courses taught at the varsity. Mandal, the state higher education council’s nominee to the Jadavpur University executive council, tries to justify his contrarian stand by suggesting that the concept of merit in this premier institute is determined by the “Chaudhuri dynasty” and Ghosh and Company. The suggestion being that higher education in the most premier institute in Bengal (and India) is mostly controlled by academicians belonging to the upper caste (both Ghosh and Chaudhuri’s are upper caste surnames in Bengal). Incidentally, in Bengal, the percentage of SC/ST teachers, according to the All India Survey on Higher Education Provisional Report for 2014-15, was as little as 6.27 per cent Dalit and 0.93 per cent from the Scheduled Tribes.
What is the logic behind such a casteist headline?
Many felt the headline was unforgivably casteist and diluted the conversation around JU’s admission procedure.
The logic behind lampooning Manojit Mandal’s Facebook post for grammatical errors, rather than logically countering the arguments, was also questioned.
Some ex-students of Jadavpur University expressed that they were “disgusted” by the article.
However, this is not the first time the group has been accused of biases and prejudices. In February 2016, The Telegraph came up with the controversial ‘Aunty National’ headline maligning Smriti Irani, trying to pun on the word anti-national. Many felt that it was blatantly sexist.