Wednesday, February 24, 2016
JNU Crisis and the "Idea of India" Debate
A look at the world of politics, statecraft, diplomacy and books Jawaharlal Nehru University has been in the news for the week long student agitaion in which the leaders of the JNUSU, Shri Kannaiya Krishna and others seem to have raised slogans in favour of Afzal Guru who was executed for his role in the Parliament Attack. The electronic media, particularly NDTV and CNN-IBN have been screaming against the Central Government as though a great atrocity has happened in the University. No democratically elected Government can allow a University to glorify terrorists who have been found guilty by the highest court in the land. The video of the Press Club meet also shows a few women students shouting slogans calling for ther "barbadi" of India, destruction of India. Such barbarous attacks are not in any way related the the "Idea of India" or justified under the freedom of expression granted by the Constitution. JNU over the years has morphed into a training ground for extremists who carry their anti India attitude as a badge of honour. Right from the beginning of the University, successive Congress regimes have turned the University into a sanctuary for pro Left and pro Congress academics who justied their patronage by the State on the ground that their politics is "secular" and "anti communal". When the agitation for the Babri Mosque Issue was taking place the Department of History, of JNU issued a "fatwa" to the entire historical community stating that Rama was only a legendary character and there can be no debate on his historicity. As is often the case with JNU historians, they tried to rearrange the terms of the debate to suit their own ideological interests. No one claimed that Rama was a historical character. The debate was only on a historical fact: Did a temple exist at the site of the famous Mosque. There is no doubt now that there was indeed a Mosque and after the destruction of the domes on December 6th 1992, archaeological evidence came to light about the existence of a Vishnu temple at that site. Sir Alexander Cunningham in his Report had also drawn attention to the presence of Hindu temple pillars near the famous mosque. The fact is that JNU has been participating in high decibel controversies without much regard for the truth or evidence. Communalism is invoked as a blanket term to justify any kind of political programme, in much the same manner as the Nazi used the doctrine of racial purity. Considerations of ethics and politics are all brushed aside when an issue is labeled "communal" and the definition of what constitute communal is known only to the high priests of JNU. The ethnic cleansing of Pundits and ther large scale destruction of the life and property of Pundits from Kashmir does not constitute an atrocity in the definition of the Teachers and Students of JNU. Selective outrage and well calibrated attacks is the hall mark of JNU. I have not heard of a single protest in JNU relating to the massacre of the Sikhs organized by the Congress Party in 1984. This double standard itself exposes the hollowness of JNU claim that it represents the voice of the Indian youth. Rahul Gandhi has had some success in instigating the students on Hyderabad Central University and JNU because these"academic spaces" to use the post colonial labels of our fashionable JNU crew are already pro Congress. During the Emergency which the Congress regime under Indira Gandhi imposed, there was not a squeak of protest from JNU. In short, JNU is a pro Congress institution and it is only indulging in political gimmicky now. Unfortunately, the Narendra Modi Government for reasons best know to itself is not acting decisively. The entire Nation is appalled at the anti national activities taking place on the Campus. When question, the "intellectuals" of JNU will use post colonial labels like, Nation is only an Imagined Community. Yes, if the nation exists only in the Imagination, then everyone has the right to re imagine the Nation and pursue politics that is in tune with their changed perceptions. However, JNU has been imposing its version of Nationalism on the entire Nation. In Indian Universities, History Departments are dominated by JNU trained historians. These men and women do not allow any debate on crucial aspects of Indian history as their Manichean division between Secular and Communal Historiography is inherently anti intellectual and anti free thought. To give an example: No meaningful debate has yet happened on Partition and the complicity of the Congress in the tragic events of 1947. Similarly, no meaningful debate has happened on Nehru's misguided policy toward China which led to the War of 1962. The freedom stops when searching questions about India's past is raised. Even on the whole issue of the Arya/ Dravidian Dichotomy in India, historians like M S S Pandian who taught in the Center for Historical Studies conveniently drew sustenance from such divisive ideologies. It is time to take stock and prevent JNU from Talibanizing India by imposing its politicall charged and divisive Idea of India.