UGC directs state univs to celebrate ABVP founder’s centenary
The University Grants Commission (UGC) has directed all universities in Maharashtra to commemorate the centenary of Dattaji Didolkar, founder of the ABVP. The Yuva Sena has demanded the withdrawal of the directive, accusing the UGC of political pressure.
Mumbai: Following a letter from union minister Nitin Gadkari, the University Grants Commission (UGC) has issued a directive to all universities in the state to commemorate the centenary of Dattaji Didolkar, an RSS leader and the founder of the right-wing Akhil Bhartiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP). Staunchly opposing this, the Yuva Sena (UBT) has demanded the withdrawal of the circular.
The UGC, in its communication to the universities, has termed Didolkar’s role as “an inspiration to thousands of students and youths in India”, and cited his founding of “numerous social and other organisations”. It has also urged higher education institutions in Maharashtra to promote the active participation of youth and students in the programmes organised to celebrate Didolkar’s birth centenary.
The Yuva Sena (UBT) has raised objections to the UGC’s letter, saying that it implies there was political pressure on the commission. “If Gadkari wishes to commemorate Didolkar’s centenary year, he should do so using funds from his political party or the RSS, and refrain from imposing it on college managements and students,” said Pradeep Sawant, senior senate member and member of the Yuva Sena.
Gadkari, in a letter to union education minister Dharmendra Pradhan, expressed his intention to promote Didolkar’s contributions among the youth through the publication of a souvenir. Gadkari’s letter prompted the UGC to issue the controversial circular to all universities across the state on November 21. The circular enclosed both Gadkari’s letter and a brochure detailing the centenary year celebrations.
Sawant expressed surprise at the UGC’s letter to universities. “We did not anticipate that the apex body of higher education would act based on government directives,” he said. “We are urging the withdrawal of the letter issued by the UGC.”
Amit Dhomase, joint secretary, ABVP, said that Didolkar had contributed greatly to the social and educational fields. “It has been our tradition to celebrate the birth centenary of social reformers such as Didolkar, who was a pioneer in the struggle for the construction of the Vivekananda Shila Memorial,” he said. “The Yuva Sena should study the educational and social contribution of Didolkar without bringing politics into it.”