Follow me on Twitter: @kdudakia
Cowardice at Oxford University?
It will go down in history as one of the most shocking and cowardly decisions ever taken by the Oxford India Society (of Oxford University).
On the very day (23rd March) the whole of India and the Indian Diaspora remembered the sacrifices of our martyrs Bhagat Singh, Shivaram Hari Rajguru and Sukhdev Thapar – news came to me that the Oxford India Society (OIS) had decided to cancel an event titled ‘Contrarian’ that was to take place on 3rd April 2015. It was to host international speakers Dr Subramanium Swamy and Shri Rajiv Malhotra. The news came as a shock to the British Board of Hindu Scholars and Satish Sharma their Chairman who commented, ‘We are stunned that a leading British University that should be championing free speech and freedom of thought, has taken such a cowardly decision. We cannot allow the appeasement of extremists to stifle cherished values and I fear this decision will reflect very badly on Oxford University and their much publicised “free rigorous thinking” credentials’.
Shri Satish Sharma Chairman of BBHS and Secretary General of NCHT
It seems one of our leading universities has fallen foul to either trying to be politically correct, exercising political appeasement or downright lack of respect for freedom of speech. Whatever their true motives, what is clear is that an event that was scheduled to take place at Oxford University, was cancelled after what appears to be cowardice by members of the Oxford India Society, and also by the University itself. I wrote to ALL members of the OIS asking them for their perspective and it seems they have gone all shy on me. So let me tell you who these people are who are part of the OIS. They are: Anjul Khadria President, Dhruti Babariya Secretary, Niharika Gurram Treasurer and committee members Arghya Modak, Nikhil Nair, Pranoy Raul, Shifali Shishodia, Mandvi Dogra, Arvind Jain, Madhav Kumar, Sounak Sahu, Varshita Sher, Ritesh Tibrewal, Devendra Meena, Vishal Maingi and Ashish Thandavan. These Indians from India have shown their remarkable capacity to succumb to pressure.
Martyrs like Bhagat Singh, Shivaram Hari Rajguru and Sukhdev Thapar gave up their lives in their youth so future generations could experience freedom. It seems their sacrifices and those of millions of other Indians mean so little to members of the OIS. People will conclude that they have betrayed their country to appease their new colonial masters at Oxford University. It seems for some Indians they might be enjoying freedom, but they remain slaves in all other aspects.
Only a few weeks ago we had the unveiling of the statue of Mahatma Gandhi in Parliament Square. The Prime Minister of Great Britain and the Foreign Secretary of India did the unveiling no less. I am reminded of what Mahatma Gandhi said, “Many people, especially ignorant people, want to punish you for speaking the truth, for being correct, for being you. Never apologise for being correct, or for being years ahead of your time. If you’re right and you know it, speak your mind. Speak your mind. Even if you are a minority of one, the truth is still the truth”.
On closer inspection it seems that Oxford University are very happy to give access to speakers such as Marine Le Pen (Head of French National Front), Wendy Doniger (a writer considered by many to be anti-Hindu), Tony Blair of WMD fame, Gerry Adams of the IRA, David Irving a Holocaust denier and Dr Zakir Naik an extremist Muslim preacher.
The executive committee of OIS should hang their heads in shame. Dr Subramanium Swamy is a recognised public champion fighting for justice for the ordinary folks. He puts himself in harm’s way by taking on the most powerful in the country and outing them for their corrupt practices. It is beyond belief that his own country folk on the OIS have let him and the nation down so badly.
Freedom of speech is often championed by leading educational institutions. They often cite the ‘Human Rights Act’ when they challenge Government restrictions on free speech. It is therefore shocking that we witness such overt irrational decision making when it comes to a leading Hindu thinker and speaker. Sometimes one wonders if free speech is the reserve of those who exercise extremism.
So I say to each and every member of the executive of the OIS. You have proven yourself to be unfit to be considered as an Indian from India. Your decision has shown the highest level of disrespect to both your nation and your rich cultural heritage. Your actions come across as cowardly, and one can only wonder what your family and friends will think of you back home?
Fortunately the British Board of Hindu Scholars and the National Council of Hindu Temples will continue with their programme of events around the country. So we will all still have that great opportunity to listen to Dr Swamy and to interact in the question answer sessions. If you want to attend, don’t waste your time. Book your tickets now.
Those interested in attending note the following:
DHARMA RISING – W MIDS: 4th April 2015
An Audience with Dr S Swamy, Shri Rajiv Malhotra & HG Jagannath Priya Dasji
4.30pm registration for 5.00pm start
Sant Nirankari Hall, Wednesbury
DHARMA RISING – LONDON: 5th April 2015
All Day Conference, Hindu “Question Time” & “Dharma Rakshak” Awards & VIP Dinner
Registration 12.30 for 1.00pm start
Dhamecha Lohana Hall, Harrow
DHARMA RISING – SLOUGH: 6th April 2015
An Audience with Shri Rajiv Malhotra & HG Jagannath Priya Dasji
Slough Cultural Society
Statement by Shri Rajiv Malhotra:
“Oxford has regarded itself as a bastion of intellectual freedom, and it would be a blot on its image to block free speech just because some individuals feel that free speech works only in one direction.
The allegations made in their petition against me are utterly ridiculous and false; in fact, the book of mine they cite does not have any bearing on Wendy Doniger or reference to her, and yet they claim it has somehow harmed her. These individuals seem to be over-opinionated but under-informed.
I thrive on debating opponents and have numerous Youtube videos of such debates. I would welcome debating an opponent in Oxford, in a fair and neutrally moderated forum, with our cameras streaming it for viewers worldwide. If my opponents are clever, they should take me up on my offer to debate.”