At a function, marked by quiet dignity, a collection of essays entitled Novel and Society was released in the seminar hall of the Department of History, Patna University. It is dedicated to one of the renowned teachers of Patna University and a polymath cultural figure, Dr. Shaileshwar Sati Prasad who headed the Department of English earlier this decade. Several men and women of eminence who spoke on this occasion, referred to the programme as significant because the commemorative volume marked the respect shown to teachers by their students at a time when various agencies have conspired to heap humiliation and indignities upon them in the public space.
The event has been covered by the media and there is not much that one can add. But many interesting things were happening at the margins of the programme. An odd comment by students and young scholars, a smirk, a knowing smile; you know those sorts of things. And then there was this thing shared among three fairly intelligent young people who were sipping soft drinks. They were speculating on how Mathematics could be taught in the years to come. And one of them inspirationally drew upon the lyrics of an old film song with some not-so-subtle changes:
Thethar ke do aage thethar
Thethar ke do picche thethar
Aage thethar, picche thethar
Bolo kitne thethar?
The change in identity of the subject from ornithological innocence to the conscious damning indifference as understood by the vernacular thethar was a critique of educational governance in this state. If such voices are heard from the margins and the voices get louder, it is a wake-up call. This state has been a crucible of dissent. From Buddha to Gandhi and JP, resistance has been articulated very radically to reject the order that felt comfortable in its own arrogance. Today's whispers may become tomorrow's howls.