THE CIRCULAR ISSUED by the Savitribai Phule Pune University has taken everyone by surprise. It states that the only students who are vegetarian and do not consume alcohol will be eligible for gold medals given by SPPU.
The Savitribai Phule Pune University (SPPU) in a circular, informed affiliated colleges and departments about a gold medal award, constituted in the name of Yog Maharshi Ramchandra Gopal Shelar, alias Shelar Mama for non-science streams postgraduate students for the academic year 2016-17.
The medal is sponsored by the trust and family members of Shelar Mama.
According to the circular, the varsity cited one of the criteria that the student should be "vegetarian and teetotaller".
The circular said that besides the "vegan and tee-totaller" criterion, the student should believe in Indian culture, tradition and practise all these values in his daily life and should be versatile in activities like dance, singing, eloquence and theatre.
"Student who practises yoga and pranayama and meditation will be given preference," reads the circular.
The university defends the move saying it's a condition that has been put forward by the sponsors of the medal. "Since all the awards are sponsored by outsiders, we follow their terms and conditions," a top official said.
Meanwhile, the varsity late on Friday evening said it will have discussions with the family members of Shelarmama over the criterion related to diet.
In a statement SPPU said that it does not differentiate students on the basis of the food habits.
The circular has drawn sharp reactions from the Shiv Sena and the Nationalist Congress Party.
Yuva Sena President Aditya Thackeray told reporters, "Is it an university or a restaurant? The Shiv Sena believes that neither the university nor the government has any right to tell people what they should be eating. The university should only focus on education."
NCP leader and Member of Parliament Supriya Sule tweeted, "Shocking disappointing decision by Pune University - so proud of education in our state, What has happened to our universities. Please focus on Education not food."
While several people have argued that the circular is an old one and was issued ten years ago, the number of the circular number is 225/2017 clearly indicating that the circular was issued this year itself. The circular is dated October 31, 2017.
The candidates for the Shelar Mama gold medal have to send in their applications by November 15.