New Delhi, Dec 02 (The Street Press India) – The University Grants Commission wants every college and university in the country to create special selfie spots. These spots will have pictures of Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the background. This request is made as we approach the upcoming general election next summer.
The higher education regulator is encouraging campus authorities to motivate students and visitors to take selfies at these designated points. By sharing these selfies on social media platforms, they essentially become unofficial supporters of the BJP.
The concept is to generate excitement around what the UGC calls “India’s achievements in various fields,” aiming to foster a collective sense of pride. However, some academics criticize the regulator, arguing that educational institutions should not be involved in a “cult-building” exercise.
In a letter to all Indian universities and colleges, UGC Secretary Manish Joshi highlights a unique opportunity to channel the energy and enthusiasm of the youth. The idea is to inspire them with India’s progress in diverse fields. The letter suggests celebrating and sharing the country’s strides by setting up a ‘Selfie Point’ within each institution. This initiative aims to raise awareness, especially among the youth, about India’s accomplishments, with a focus on the new initiatives outlined in the National Education Policy 2020.
The letter further urges institutions to prompt students and visitors to capture and share these special moments on social media, fostering a shared sense of pride. The UGC proposes various designs for the selfie points, each dedicated to a specific theme like international education, unity in diversity, Smart India Hackathon, Indian knowledge system, multilingualism, and India’s progress in higher education, research, and innovation. It specifies that each selfie point should be strategically located on campus and include a 3D layout.
A faculty member from a prestigious institution expressed concern, stating that the government is portraying ordinary achievements as spectacular ones and giving credit to the Prime Minister. He views this as a full-blown propaganda effort to build a cult figure, utilizing public institutions not involved in such activities. The academic asserts there’s no legal provision allowing the government or UGC to mandate academic institutions to promote such propaganda. Additionally, the Prime Minister’s pictures have been widely circulated, including on Covid vaccine certificates. Selfie points have been set up at Rozgar Melas, where government employees pose before Modi cut-outs for photographs.
The academic highlighted a concern, stating that a subtle perception is being crafted to attribute all activities to one leader, potentially misleading voters with an eye on elections. A Jawaharlal Nehru University faculty member emphasized the importance of selfie points promoting diverse ideas, fostering debate, and addressing public issues. He expressed concern that pushing a singular opinion compromises the university’s long-term interests, emphasizing the need for a multitude of opinions in an academic environment. A management teacher mentioned that while the UGC issues such circulars, campus administrations are free to ignore them. He emphasized that educational institutions should not follow such advice. He stated that institutional leaders who are not inclined towards flattery should be able to disregard this type of guidance.