‘No Reason to Oppose Ramayana Leadership Lesson’: JNU VC Mamidala

According to the VC Mahatma Gandhi had said that lord Ram is “one without a second.”

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In what many are calling a first, Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) will be organising a webinar on leadership lessons from Ramayana, from 2 to 3 May, between 4:00 to 6:00 pm.

A poster of the event says that that the lessons, to be delivered over video-conferencing platform Zoom, will be presented by the Ramayana School – which describes itself as “an initiative to take the Ramayana to the schools, colleges, & corporates with value-oriented workshops, reflective exercises and quizzes.”

While announcing the webinar on Twitter, JNU Vice Chancellor Mamidala Jagadesh Kumar said that Mahatma Gandhi had in 1946 said that lord Ram is “one without a second. He alone is great. There is none greater than He. He is timeless, formless, stainless. Such is my Rama. He alone is my Lord and Master.”

JNUSU Hits Out At Admin

The JNU Students’ Union (JNUSU) hit out at the administration, asking it to focus on issues faced by students and workers employed in JNU.

“We definitely hope that wherever the JNU administration and the Vice Chancellor are deriving their 'leadership prowess' from, it helps them to focus on the issues faced by the students and workers employed in JNU. Because up till now there has been a failure of leadership on issues of a serious nature. Leadership requires a sense of responsibility and care for the constituents you are assigned to serve,” the union said in a statement.

The statement also pointed out that sanitation workers, labourers and those employed in manual jobs have not been paid their salaries for over three months.


Mamidala Defends Webinar

Later, as reports of the webinar emerged, Mamidala told ANI that “Some people have asked me why there is a webinar on leadership lessons from Ramayan at JNU. During the lockdown period we have conducted several webinars related to COVID-19. This is a part of such series of webinars that we have been conducting.”

He also reiterated that Gandhi had spoken of Lord Ram’s love for truth, justice, equality in such exigencies and that he doesn’t see any reason for anyone to oppose the webinar.

“Mahatma Gandhi emphasized how Lord Ram taught us to uphold truth, justice, equality, and equanimity even in adverse situations. When we're fighting COVID we thought there are great lessons to learn from Ramayana to strengthen ourselves. I see no reason why anybody should oppose it,” Mamidala told ANI.


Students Divided Over Ramayana Webinar

Madhvi, a final-year PhD student at JNU, said that she was shocked to learn that the university administration was focussing on Ramayana leadership lessons, when there are other pertinent issues that require urgent attention, but have so far been left unaddressed.

She points out that not every hostel has mess facilities at the moment and that the contractual cleaning staff has not been paid.

“Not every hostel has mess facilities for campus residents, there’s little conversation around the need for additional medical support with respect to the ongoing global pandemic. The contractual sanitation workers in the hostel have not been paid salaries for the past three months and have not been issued adequate passes to commute from their respective homes to JNU campus.”

She also pointed out that the university is forcing online classes and exams on students, many of whom have gone back to their homes and do not have a proper data connectivity.

Apeksha, who’s also a JNU student said that the entire idea of online classes, webinars is to hide the problems faced by students in accessing online resources.

“The entire mode of doing things via the internet and webinars is also an assertion on the part of the administration and the vice chancellor to say that everything is hunky dory and students are able to engage online and able to access these classes, which isn’t the case,” she said.

ABVP Elated

However, the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) which has been busy preparing sketches of of Ramayana characters on their social media handles is extremely happy with the webinar.

“We welcome this webinar organised by JNU. Ramayan shows us a social system in which decorum was maintained by all and family relationships were organised. In Ramayana, leaders, from both sides would stay well within their boundaries and respect their opponents. So this teaches us leadership qualities.”
Shivam Chaurasia, ABVP Leader, JNU

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