BPCL, Air India, BSNL as venues: Kerala college's unique protest against Modi govt

Maharaja's College adopts a novel way to protest against privatisation of the PSUs


BPCL, Air India, Cochin Shipyard and BSNL. No, these are not the names of troubled, debt-ridden public sector undertakings (PSUs). These are the venue names of the three-day arts fest in Maharaja's College in Kerala. The college union decided to adopt a novel way to protest against privatisation of the PSUs.

"We were scouting for a socially relevant theme for this year's arts fest. The discussions coincided with the Central government's decision to privatise the PSUs, including BPCL. That's how we finalised on the theme," explained Divya V.G., chairman of the college union.

Accordingly, venue 1 is named BPCL, while venue 2 and 3 are Air India and Indian Railways. While venue 4 is named after Kochi's own Cochin Shipyard, venue 5 is called BSNL. It is to be noted that BPCL owns the Kochi Refinery in Kerala.

The three-day fest, named 'Thottakkam', concludes on Friday. Thottakam in Malayalam means a prayer recited for the dead during a funeral ceremony. "It is a requiem by Maharajas for India's dying soul," clarified Divya.

On November 20, the Modi government decided to sell its stake in five PSUs—Bharat Petroleum Corporation Limited (BPCL), the Shipping Corporation of India (SCI), Container Corporation of India (Concor), Tehri Hydro Development Corporation Limited (THDCIL), and the North Eastern Electric Power Corporation Limited (NEEPCO). This is in addition to its move to privatise Air India and merge telecom PSUs BSNL and MTNL.

Maharaja's College has remained an SFI bastion for years and has produced many political and cultural leaders. Kerala's finance minister Thomas Isaac, a vociferous critic of the Modi government's economic policies, is an alumnus of the college.

The students also protested the passage of the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill by Parliament by burning copies of the bill and chanting slogans against the Centre for "dividing the country in the name of religion".