Dozens of GNLU Gandhinagar students walked out of a compulsory nearly-five-hour-long “mind power” session by a motivational speaker yesterday, in protest against the usefulness of the content of the session and against the administration substituting classes with it during exam season.
Four students spoken to by us complained that the session should not have been mandatory to attend, particularly as the end semester exams and internal evaluations were upcoming. On top of that, the syllabus had not yet been completed.
Furthermore, the students said that the content of the session was not appropriate for law students and offensive, because it allegedly did not treat mental health issues with the seriousness that they deserved, and they were considering filing a formal complaint.
Update-1 17:54: We understand that more than 250 GNLU students have now submitted a written complaint to director Bimal Patel, which included several other grievances relating to class schedules, infrastructure, parking, and three paragraphs about the “mind power” session:
A. The session should not have been mandatory to attend, especially in light of the upcoming End Semester Examinations, ongoing internal evaluations in some subjects, and incomplete syllabus. B. The content of the session was inappropriate, and made light of some serious issues, which was deeply offensive to the student body.
Sir, we understand that such sessions, particularly for mental health and awareness, may be greatly beneficial to the students. However, the timing of the session along with the fact that regular classes were not held for the same, should be considered.
Students’ arm pricked by motivational needle
Jeetendra Adhia conducted the session on mind training for the entire GNLU student body yesterday from 9am to 2pm, with attendance being compulsory, mobile phones being banned and leaving the auditorium other than during two 15-minute breaks being prohibited (see copy of email invite below).
According to several students present, a few hours into the session, Adhia pricked with a needle the arm of a student sitting in the front row of the session. According to students, the prick caused minor bleeding and was intended to demonstrate one of Adhia’s techniques of conquering pain with the power of the mind.
At that point, large parts of the fourth and fifth year batches apparently began walking out of the session.
We contacted Dr Adhia’s Mind Training Institute for comment yesterday, but had only received an automated response acknowledging receipt but no further comment for now.
However, a large number of mostly senior students apparently objected to the session’s content and walked out in protest.
They later reported their protest to GNLU director Bimal Patel but, according to several sources, Patel was not available to hear the students orally because he was in a meeting, but asked them to submit their grievances in writing.
Correction: Our initial version of this report mis-stated that Patel declined to take action when contacted by the students. He was actually in a meeting and hence unable to hear the students. We regret the error and have corrected the above.
Patel did not respond to our email yesterday seeking his comment.
Other motivational techniques used
Adhia, who had claimed in an interview to have got his start in motivational speaking after probably having cured a woman of blood cancer by speaking to her, has in the past included three practical exercises in his mind training sessions, according to a blog post published by one of his participants in September 2012:
There were three practicals in the workshop. I managed to get images for tow (sic) and a video for one.
The practicals were;
1 Walking on broken glass.
2 Eating fire.
3 Inserting a needle in the body with the body feeling no pain.
How many did I do?
I could gather courage to do two; the first and the second. I didn’t do the third.
The blog includes a number of pictures and more descriptions of the session that appears similar to the one held at GNLU.
According to the email invite sent to students by GNLU faculty (emphasis added, sic as applicable):
This is to inform you that GNLU is organizing a workshop on ‘Mind Power’ which is scheduled on 19th April 2017. It is mandatory to all students and all batches to participate in the workshop. The attendance will be taken to those who present.
The detail schedule of the workshop is given below:
09:00 am - 10:30 am – Session I
10:30 am - 10:45 am - Break
10:45 am - 12:15 pm - Session II
12:15 pm - 12:30 pm -Break
12:30 pm - 02:00 pm - Session III
The venue of the workshop will be AURA Auditorium.
(1) No student should carry mobile phone to the Auditorium
(2) No student should be allowed to Auditorium after 8:55AM [It is advisable to the students to seat in the Auditorium latest by 8:50AM]
(3) No student shall allow to go out during the specified session except the break.