Delhi University professor sparks row with 'marks jihad' allegation against Kerala

Express News Service

NEW DELHI/THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The term “marks jihad” used against students from Kerala, and the evaluation system of the Kerala State Education Board, by a Delhi University professor has sparked a political controversy across the nation. Senior leaders, like Congress MP from Thiruvananthapuram, Shashi Tharoor, and CPM’s Rajya Sabha MP John Brittas have demanded strict action against the professor and to stop the bias against Kerala students.

Tharoor tweeted, “The use of “jihad” as a synonym for any trend you don’t like is exceeding all limits: now a DU teacher has got attention by absurdly decrying Marks Jihad. I have always decried the over-reliance on marks as the main criterion for DU admission.”

2/2 …is ridiculous. If “Jihad” means a struggle (with yourself above all), the Kerala students scoring 100% have struggled against the odds to get to DU. Interview them first if you wish before letting them in, but don’t demonise their marks! This anti-Kerala bias must end now!
— Shashi Tharoor (@ShashiTharoor) October 7, 2021
Rakesh Kumar Pandery, of Kirori Mal College, made the remarks against Kerala students on Wednesday, calling the Kerala board’s evaluation system ‘marks jihad’ in a Facebook post. A former leader of the RSS-leaning National Democratic Teachers Front, Pandey said: “Students are awarded 100% marks by the state board, forcing certain colleges under DU to over-admit students.”

Alleging a deliberate plan in operation for the past two or three years, he said it is being done as the political Left saw its hold on universities like JNU weaken, and hence, such an attempt to shift base to Delhi University.

The remark was made in the backdrop of a large number of students from Kerala applying to Delhi University colleges for higher studies. Kerala students with 100% marks reportedly grabbed seats in colleges like Hindu, SRCC, Miranda, Ramjas, and Hansraj on the first day of admission, thus leaving other Delhi University aspirants in the lurch.

Tharoor, in another tweet, retorted, “But it is ridiculous. If “Jihad” means a struggle (with yourself above all), the Kerala students scoring 100% have struggled against the odds to get to DU. Interview them first if you wish before letting them in, but don’t demonise their marks! This anti-Kerala bias must end now.”

Brittas condemned the remark and wrote to Union Education Minister Dharmendra Pradhan seeking strong action in the matter. “Highly deplorable, defamatory communal remarks have been made against Kerala students. His comments are suspected (to be) a part of a deliberate attempt to cause division and suspicion among students from other states in Delhi University,” he said.

Pandey’s attempt to draw a comparison with the alleged ‘marks jihad’ and the imaginary ‘love jihad’ is not only derogatory in nature but also has the potential to cause friction between various religions, Brittas pointed out.  “At no stretch of imagination, those comments can be considered as accidental butare intended to defame Kerala and to create polarisation in society,” he said.

Pandey had also said: “The invasion of Kerala Board students with perfect 100 percent marks can not be considered as unplanned. It hints at something that must be investigated. There is no way that one can accept this inexplicable flow of students from Kerala Board as normal. Majority of these students are comfortable neither in Hindi nor in English. All these students do not have 100 percent marks in there eleventh class. Love done with the intention other than love is Love Jihad and marks allocation with an intention guided by reasons other than academic is also Marks Jihad.”

Meanwhile, Delhi University refuted reports of favouritism and also condemned Pandey’s statement.”The University of Delhi strongly refutes and condemns the falsity of news which is being circulated regarding favouring candidates from a few boards. Being a Central University, the DU equally and uniformly values the academic credentials of all the candidates irrespective of their states and school boards. This year too, equal opportunity was maintained by accepting applications based on meritonly. It is our utmost responsibility to maintain justice and equity to all meritorious candidates coming not only from Indian States but also from abroad,” said DU Registrar Vikas Gupta in a statement.

The Left leaders chose to attribute it to a grandiose design by the Sangh Parivar, coming close on the heels of yet a ‘narcotic jihad’ remark. The SFI has rejected the ‘marks jihad’ accusation outright, with a counter-allegation that top-scoring students from Kerala were being denied admission to differentcolleges under Delhi University on flimsy grounds.

Such statements are part of a grand design to upend ‘Islamophobia’, opined CPM politburo member M A Baby. “A well-planned strategy by the Sangh Parivar is on to change the Secular DemocraticRepublic of India. Such ludicrous statements and allegations against students from Kerala are part of this design. Some people, knowingly or unknowingly, fall into such traps. It’s similar to what Noam Chomsky termed as manufacturing consent with repeated statements,” said the former Kerala education minister.