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Sponsored ruckus on American University Campuses

Sponsored ruckus on American University Campuses

Sponsored ruckus on American University Campuses


Mangalore Today News Network

By Dr. G. Shreekumar Menon

Mangaluru, May 02, 2024:
Karma has strange and innovative ways of retaliatory strikes, incomprehensible, as always. Ghosts of past sins, whether of the ruthlessly decimated Red Indian tribes, atom bomb detonation of lakhs of victims of Japan, or innocent Vietnamese, Iraqis, and innumerable victims of secret assassinations across the world, have suddenly struck, unexpectedly, in the unlikeliest of places – the prestigious American universities. While strutting across the globe, claiming invincibility, Americans never expected that strange fires would erupt from within USA, that too in their prestigious universities.

 

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Columbia University, the epicentre of pro-Palestinian protests that have upended college campuses across the United States, began suspending student demonstrators after they defied an ultimatum to disperse. The move follows almost two weeks of protests against Israel’s war in Gaza that have swept through higher education institutions from coast to coast, after around 100 protesters were first arrested at Columbia on April 18.


Student demonstrators at Harvard University were caught on camera flying a Palestinian flag in a spot exclusively reserved for the American flag. A social media video showed three students at the Ivy League school raising the Palestinian flag over the statue of John Harvard. This is where only the Stars & Stripes is supposed to fly.

Similarly, protesting students laid siege at Hamilton Hall at Columbia University. They also unfurled a Palestinian flag out of the window.

Hamilton Hall has been renamed by violently protesting students as Hind’s Hall in honour of Hind Rajab, and other Palestinian martyrs.

Gaza-related protests roiling university campuses across the U.S. in recent weeks, occurred also at the University of Texas at Austin. Pro Palestine agitations have not spared any prestigious US universities.

 


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Colleges and universities are a major part of the U.S. economy and society. As of fall 2023, over 18 million people were studying full- or part-time at American colleges and universities, which also employed around lakhs of people. For the third year in a row, a record number of Indian students proceeded to the United States to pursue higher education. According to the Open Doors Report (ODR) the number of international students from India to the United States increased by 35 percent and resulted in an all-time high of 268,923 students in academic year 2022-23.  Indian students constituted more than 25 percent of the over one million foreign students studying in the United States. Indian parents are selling their ancestral properties, availing bank loans, or taking expensive private loans, so that their children can get the best academic education. But, suddenly, the spectre of agitations, battering American universities, is flashing on TV screens and on social media. Foreign students, especially from the Middle East and the Indian Sub-Continent, are on a rampage, yelling and screaming in Arabic language, profanities against Israel, over the ongoing Gaza conflict. For Indian TV viewers, the scenes appeared to have been photocopied from the Shaheen Bagh sponsored agitation show, that crippled New Delhi.  
 
For quite over a decade American universities have been plagued by multiple issues, like decline in student enrolment, enormous increase in costs for university education, which have been rising far faster than not only inflation but, more critically, family incomes. Sexual violence on American campuses has increased dramatically as also concomitant issues like drug abuse.

A 2023 report from the American Israeli Cooperative Enterprise (AICE) has brought to light massive foreign donations to American universities by Middle East countries and the role they could be playing in sponsoring agitations and violence on American college campuses and biased responses to geopolitical events.  Qatar was the largest source of funding, donating roughly $5 billion and was followed by Saudi Arabia donating roughly $3 billion. Other top donors to American universities were the UAE, Kuwait and Egypt. The top five university recipients of Arab donations were Cornell, Georgetown, Carnegie Mellon, Texas A&M and North-western. Harvard received upwards of $218 million in foreign funding since January 2022, according to recent data from the Department of Education.

The pattern of agitations is remarkably similar to the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) chaotic unrest that rocked the Indian Capital New Delhi, recently. Ongoing American campus agitations appear to be well orchestrated, well-funded, and pre-planned. Foreign students on American campuses, usually eke out their living expenses by doing all sorts of odd jobs, but the present agitators seem to be in no dire shortage of money. There is an unmistakeable aura of a paid-agitator, happily belting out, angry slogans, in Arabic language.

The reason for the agitation is not for any genuine student related issues but instead demands that universities to separate themselves from companies that are advancing Israel’s military efforts in Gaza — and in some cases from Israel itself. Protests on many campuses have been orchestrated by coalitions of student groups, and efforts are underway to identify the unknown entities funding and directing the agitations. Some universities say outsiders have joined student protesters and caused trouble, which is not surprising.
 
Many of the Ivy League universities distinguished themselves as centres of excellence for academics and research. Universities like Princeton and Harvard boast of a galaxy of Nobel Laureates. When the university managements misdirected themselves, out of avarice, to seek massive foreign donations, mediocre students started getting inducted surreptitiously, to satisfy the requests of the financial donors. Many students from Gaza and Middle East gained admissions despite their low academic calibre. People who for generations know only to indulge in cantankerous fights, and wanton violence, have been inducted into prestigious universities overlooking the claims of brilliant and meritorious students, from many other countries. This charade of hospitality was only for garnering more funds from wealthy Arab nations.

This writer has first-hand knowledge of a Yemeni fighter, who was given a scholarship to study about nuclear non-proliferation issues, in a prestigious American government funded institution. This man could not even speak English, but was being accommodated in an English language program on a highly sensitive subject. He was being provided free boarding and lodging facilities, also by the American government. Similar is the luxurious problem of many students from the Middle-East, low academic proficiency, but high on wealth. They do what is best known to them, agitate mindlessly and recklessly.

An experienced professor once told this writer that if he were to interview a Harvard educated candidate, he would get an inferiority complex! Such was the awesome reputation and respect that a Harvard or Princeton university degree commanded. That is no longer the case, back-door entrants are flooding American university campuses, and also quietly exiting, with a paper degree, for exhibition on visiting cards and office chambers.

Even many Indian companies have given handsome endowments to greedy American universities, and in the process obtained prestigious degrees for themselves and their kith and kin, without an iota of genuine academic input.

There is an important lesson for the Indian government from the ongoing American university crisis, never trust private university managements, and grant them unbridled autonomy. For instance, for all Deemed-to-be-universities, the UGC rules stipulate that the sponsoring Trust Chairman should not be the Chancellor, rather it should be a distinguished academician. This norm is openly flouted, as also unapproved posts like Pro-Chancellor, have been created, and occupied by the kith and kin of Trust members. Honorary doctorate degrees are purchased, and the prefix ‘Dr’ attached to their names, by illiterate or semi-literate politicians who own most of the Deemed-to-be universities, and other professional colleges in India. Or else religious leaders occupy these positions, which are least desirable. No wonder that young students are running away from India to USA and other Western countries, and to their dismay, encountering bigger charlatans there!

The government of India should ensure that all top university positions, whether under government or private, should be only from distinguished academicians, and these positions should be administered and controlled by the government, and the incumbents, liable for periodic transfers, like other government officials. All donations received and spent, need to be vetted by the Home Ministry, and Trust members be made accountable and liable for funds received from dubious sources. Many Indian universities are also inviting foreign students, especially from radicalized countries, as they have enormous wealth. This is a great danger as the American experience shows. Never import students from conflict zones or countries encouraging radicalism, for the institution can become ‘Gazafied’ in no time. If they are keen about Indian education, establish campuses in their countries, never import students, remember, a drop of Potassium Permanganate, can colour the entire water in a well.

American university degrees stands deglamourized, due to the rapacity of their managements. Very soon, American universities will be offering dual degree specializations, one in the chosen subject and the other a Degree in Hooliganism!



Dr G ShreeKumar MenonDr. G. Shreekumar Menon, IRS (Rtd), Ph.D. (Narcotics)

Former Director General of National Academy of Customs Indirect Taxes and Narcotics & Multi-Disciplinary School Of Economic Intelligence India; Fellow, James Martin Centre For Non Proliferation Studies, USA; Fellow, Centre for International Trade & Security, University of Georgia, USA; Public Administration, Maxwell School of Public Administration, Syracuse University, U.S.A.; AOTS Scholar, Japan. He can be contacted at shreemenon48@gmail.com

 


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