Chaos at MSU, Baroda

Many of you must be following the drama ensuing at the prestigious Fine Arts Faculty, Maharao Sayaji University, Baroda with some concern.

It’s the same university where a student, Chandra Mohan was arrested for allegedly making some “indecent” paintings of Hindu and Christian gods and thus “disturbing the peace and harmony of the city of Vadodara”.

People have different opinions on this issue. Some people question the limits of the right to freedom that an artist has. But here, the point to be noted is that the paintings made by the artist were not on public display, but for an exhibition for the students and teachers of the university. (Sort of like our R&D showcase, minus the formal inviations we send to the press and to other institutes). They were made as practical examination assignments, and as such, no one had any right whatsoever to judge them except for the course evaluator/instructor. Since the paintings were not on display for general public, the question for upsetting any decency or hurting religious sentiments or disturbing peace does not arise. Any such accusations against the painting, therefore, completely baseless.

Word about the paintings being “indencent” somehow and got out, and some local leaders of the ruling party took it upon themsleves to “clean up” their surroundings. For this purpose, they forcefully entered the faculty where the exhibition was being held, bashed up the student (according to eyewitnesses) and racuously abused the faculty and students present there. Since they were from the ruling party, they as well got the police on the scene, and got the student arrested.

I think it’s very clear that neither the local leaders, nor the police had any right to pass judgements upon the paintings made for a course examination. One person to do so was the Dean, Fine Arts Faculty, eminent art historian Professor Shivaji Pannikar. And what happened when he said he found nothing wrong with the paintings?

He was arrested on god-knows-what charges. Not just that, even suspended from university services by an administration which seems to be a mere puppet in the hands of the extremists sitting in the government. Later released on bail, he still as of now stands suspended. The students of the university are fighting an uphill battle against the shamelessly biased puppet university administration to get their beloved professor back in service. They’re raging a fierce protest. Some students got arrested on god-knows-what charges a few days back. Many others are on hunger strike. The scholarly art students of the best art university in the country are facing stand-offs with the riff raff youth wing of the ruling party. Threats etc. have now become commonplace for them.

In their hour of trouble, I think we should extend our whole hearted support for them, as students for students. I’ve planned a signature campaign. A write up will be prepared expressing our solidarity for our counterparts in the Fine Arts Faculty, MSU. Every IIITian is expected to sign it, and it will be express delivered (sent by tuesday)to some of my friends in the Fine Arts Faculty who’re leading the protests over there.

This might seem trivial, but in times of difficulty, even the smallest word of encouragement from unexpected quarters is a big confidence booster. This small gesture of ours will be highly apprecialted and welcomed by the protesting MSU studnets. Let’s show them we are with them.

PS: All those with me on this issue can drop a comment or let me know otherwise. I’ll be getting back to them for their signatures.

PPS: For full details on this issue, please read

Categories: Critique | 11 Comments

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11 thoughts on “Chaos at MSU, Baroda

  1. I am not completely aware of the happenings though have a brief idea and all these attempts by the parties to clean the srroundings and all should be stopped every individual has right to express and the action when it was not meant to be in public is not justified at all… Though i wouldnt consider the guy completely innocent but i would sure like to help and sign the letter

  2. Prachi

    To have a better idea regarding what these paintings were, visit:

    Well, if tht is true, then i dont understand how putting him behind the bars will help… he needs professional help!!

  3. I suggest to everyone who reads the link given by Prachi to go through the last link I’ve given in the post, to listen to the accused party’s side too.
    I have my personal views on the paintings. But the question I ask is, can someone put you in jail for something you put up in the R&D showcase? Also, can someone suspend your Prof. for finding nothing wrong with your exam assignment?

  4. Prachi

    May be the link you point to says all correct things. May be not. May be the students know everything that goes on in the college. May be not. (Consider how much the students would really know if personal invites are sent to ppl from the Dean of Arts deptt. from the university, n ppl took it as a formal invitation? Someone from press can get a ‘friendly’ invitation too. We can only trust the word of rumour. I mean, anything is a possibility) So either case, cant really comment on the suspension of the Dean.. but yes.. can say safely that the student needn’t be put in the jail.. all he did was expressing himself in an internal examination/showcase. He didnt intend to hurt anyone’s feelings, but was expressing his own. People think it was indecent. May be he should have left clues like Da Vinci and shouldnt have been so explicit 😀 May be he needs help. May be not. But not the jail.
    Anyways, i’ll sign the letter.
    PS: Sorry for the long comment. Guess i got a lil carried away 😀

  5. anindita

    dear prachi,
    i completely respect ur views on chandaramohan’s paintin though i may not agree with it.see the point here is not to judge the work of art in question ,me even as a painting student,am not competent enough to do so,dats better left to the examiners.besides we live in a supposedly democratic country where everyone has the right to express their views, i’m sure u know of freedom of expression being our fundamental right. if someone finds them objectional they have the right to voice thier opinion too but not ilegally,it can be talked out ,complained but not by breakin the law bargin into a university campus , arrestin a student without a warrant…. is dat fair??
    without givin him a chance to explain ?
    and please he is an art student not some psycho freak dat u think needs help!!!!!!!
    if those paintings were obscene i would like to request u to look at our khajuraho temples, ajanta ellora , various shivlinga temples(which is phallic worship),old scriputures which r full of erotica n nude sculptures n paintings, it has been the very part of indian heritage n culture , some thing were are suddenly ashamed of… come on ours is a land where gita govinda meghdootam n kamasutra were written…
    we are growin intolerant day by day!
    anyways everyone has an opinion of their own on the issue all i’d like to say to u is try n look at the larger picture here , its not bout on student but how slowly the saffronisation of the education system is takin place, where r freedom of expression n our rights r being snatched away….first they attacked our institution ,then a student n now a professor ….tommorow it could one of you anyone….
    thanks for hearing me out

  6. anindita

    hey aniket
    very aptly put ya..
    i’m glad dat u understand the situation so well n r sensitive to it though i fail to understand that the authorities n so called well read people sittin on the vc’s chair fail to understand this much
    thanks for extendin a helpin hand

  7. anindita

    its coz of ppl like u that we are still optimistic n fightin aniket….
    thanks a ton
    all we can do is do our own bit towards abigger cause
    i wanna thank u on the behalf of all my friends n faculty here

  8. Prachi

    Dear Anindita,

    I completely understand your sentiments and believe me, I am with you in the fight. Although, I think you misunderstood me. I was always of the opinion that it was unfair to arrest Chandramohan for only expressing himself for an internal exam. Had it been done publicly, then it would have been a different issue altogether. Because yes, we have the right to expression, but not if it comes at the cost of public order. He clearly didnt intend to disrupt it.

    Although, I would again refrain from commenting on the suspension of the Dean. Given the rumours, I am in no position to comment on that. I don’t want to be biased towards any of them. Pardon me for this.

    But one thing is for sure, had the paintings been of my mother or father, my comments on this issue would have been different 🙂

    ” if someone finds them objectional they have the right to voice thier opinion too but not ilegally,it can be talked out ,complained but not by breakin the law bargin into a university campus , arrestin a student without a warrant…. ” I am sure all of us are with you on this issue. And seriously, it needs courage and determination to put up a fight for what you think is right. Hats off to you guys for that! May things turn out well in the end.

  9. Prachi

    the smiley in my last comment was supposed to be a ‘smile’.. dont think it came out too well… sorry if this looks like spam, but had to post this as i dont like the ‘grin’ like smiley there…

  10. anindita

    thanks for understanding prachi

  11. roy patel

    i wanna know about fine arts admission process for 2008 year for my fiance.

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