Dear Prof. Paranjape, We Are Not ‘Manufacturing Discontent’: A JNU Student’s Open Letter

Maitreyee Shukla

Dear Professor Paranjape,

I am a student of JNU, fairly regular to classes, unaffiliated to any political party, and striving to be what you termed as ‘independent intellectual’, I attended your lecture on nationalism and then watched your interview on Newsd as well. I am telling you these facts so as to tell you where I derive the legitimacy to write an open letter to you.

I must sincerely applaud you since your lecture provided us with an alternate perspective on nationalism and thank you for your poignant critique of the left as well as JNU. Although, I felt proud of JNU when the audience listened to the alternative and critical lecture respectfully, I felt that there was a hint of hostility in the tone of a few questions which were directed at you, and was disappointed at that. It wouldn’t be an overstatement to say that I was swayed by your lecture just the way you confessed that you were swayed by Kanhaiya’s speech.

However, that did not last long. Few days later, I googled ‘Makarand Paranjape’ with a high opinion of you in my mind, and came across your interview with ‘Newsd’. Unfortunately, I logged off the internet with sad disappointment. The tone of the interview, the arguments you had put forward and the facts you presented, were so in contrast with that lecture, that I can actually use your own lecture to critique your interview.

A major chunk of your lecture was spent on cautioning us against falling for reductive formulations of theories, ideas or events. You asked us to contextualize everything and look for a space for mediation between two extremes. Not getting stuck with meaningless, extreme binaries was the crux of your lecture. You reminded us to check all the facts again and again. (Though there was a factual error in your lecture itself. It was not Karat and Anand Kumar who were challenged by Jairus Banaji, It was D.P Tripathi and Sitaram Yechury. But since these are minor details, we can get past them.)Then why is it professor, that you yourself began your interview with the most reductive and biased arguments of all?

Within the first minute of your interview, you had reduced the entire student movement across India to an attempt to ‘manufacture discontent’. I agree that no ideology is beyond criticism, JNU also is no utopia, but is it okay to dismiss all of the student movement as some sort of gimmick? No.

Let me take a leaf from your book here, and contextualize the situation. It is true that the universities in India have been in the news constantly, and not for something entirely good. I am not calling the situation entirely bad since I see dissent as a good sign for democracy. The bad part is that the present state is continuously raking the hornet’s nest. First it was scrapping of the non- NET fellowships, then it was the suicide of Rohith Vemula and then the crackdown at JNU. So you see, you are right that a certain discontent is being manufactured, but it is not from the side of students, the state itself is manufacturing it.

While I was still digesting the highly biased insinuation, you gave the media’s favourite, “taxpayers’ money” argument. The most shocking part of this argument for me was when you hailed only the middle class as the taxpayer. I was shocked since I never expected half- baked and factually inaccurate arguments from you after you chided Kanhaiya for his factual errors. I am certain that you are aware that income tax is not the only tax you pay. Directly or indirectly, every citizen of this country pays taxes, not just the middle or the upper class. We students realize that our education is being funded by every citizen of this country and therefore we are duty bound to utilize it to its maximum potential.

As Gandhi said, and you quoted, freedom is not political independence. Until and unless someone else is suffering, my freedom is meaningless. Keeping this in mind, we consider it our responsibility to stand for the poorest and the weakest. I am sure you are aware that less than 10% of the Indian population is studying in its universities. Percentage of people coming from oppressed classes or communities is even lesser than that. In the presence of such depressing data, our HRD ministry scrapped non- NET fellowships. You tell me sir, keeping in mind these facts and Gandhi’s talisman, what exactly is negative about students demanding their fellowships?

I am sorry to word it so strongly, but your altercation that the suicide of Rohith Vemula is being capitalized on by the students is nothing short of appalling. It sounds as if you were moved by the dramatic speech made in parliament. Sir, his suspension, institutional and social boycott, freezing his scholarship, all were based on some false claims made by a certain group which considers itself the sole harbinger of nationalism and morality. The HRD ministry wrote not one, but five letters to the university demanding action against his ‘casteist’ and ‘anti- national’ activities, i.e, his activism in the Ambedkar Students Association. This is clearly a provocation for suicide. It’s a murder sir, an institutional murder. His final grievance was that “…a man was reduced to his immediate identity”. And yet again, his institutional murder was reduced to a mere suicide by several people, including you. Such a Shame.

And finally, the cherry on the top was when you decided to give reasons for your critique of JNU as well as the students’ movement. Again I must clarify, I do not consider any ideology or institution to be beyond criticism; however, the critique at least should be based on some logical arguments. Your arguments were nothing but well worded repetition of the typical Bhakt arguments. As a friend of mine said, it was not the ‘Hermeneutics of mediality’ you professed earlier, it was ‘Hermeneutics of partiality’.

First of all, it is laughable to compare the structure of IITs with that of JNU or other universities. Their entire subject matter is different. The reason students of social sciences are so vocal about social issues is not because they have ‘easy’ courses, it is because society is their very subject matter! While we are at it, please clarify, what did you really meant when you said that since in IITs and IIMs students pay a lot of money, they care about the classes? Didn’t you just subtly pushed for a fee hike?

I guess you did not realize how shallow you sounded when you said that the middle class taxpayer and the state funds our education and in return it gets not just ingratitude but also accusations of inequality and oppression. I was literally staring at the screen in shock when a person of your intellect gave such a trifling reading of recent happenings. Even now, I am wondering where to begin explaining to you that inequality and oppression are not accusations levied by us, these are hard realities. We are not trying to defame anyone, we are just giving the Indian society a reality check. We are trying to be Gandhi’s ‘Unafraid populous’; fighting to bring the dreams of an inclusive state to reality.

Sir, you accused us of trying to offend a certain religious group by organising Mahishasur Diwas and Beef festival. You said it is alright to worship Mahishasur, but not okay to term Durga as a sex worker. Well, firstly, I do not understand what is so insulting about being a sex worker? I for one, would be proud to be a part of a community where a sex worker is worshipped as a deity. Secondly, when the Savarnas can insult a tribal deity in their mythology, what is wrong with the tribal mythology insulting a Savarna deity? You should know that alternate mythologies exist. There are over three hundred different versions of Ramayan itself.

As for the accusation that we organise beef parties but not pork festivals, sir, the reason is simple. Pork is not banned, no one is being lynched for eating or storing pork. You can easily see pork being served freely in several restaurants of Delhi, and in several food festivals organised inside the campus itself, be it the north eastern night or the International Food Festival.

Although you are claiming that you stand with JNU and that you are simply pointing out the scopes for improvement, in reality you are just using the garb of criticism to defame this institution. Not one of your arguments hold ground when tested logically and factually.
Signing off, I would like to reiterate that in spite of all their fallacies, JNU as well as the entire student movement, are inevitable if you wish to strengthen this democracy. We all wish for better academic outputs from all our universities, but we cannot achieve that without standing up against the constant attacks over the dissenting voices and the autonomy of these institutions.

Right now, we are standing at a juncture where attempts are being made to crush the very soul of JNU. History will not forget that at this critical moment, you chose not to stand with it.

Sincerely,

A JNU student

P.S: In your lecture, you said something to the effect that since you presented a dissenting voice, a bully campaign has been launched against you, where open letters are being written. I must clarify that this letter is not an attempt to bully you. Open letter are a medium to engage in conversations.

  • Shrikant Barve

    1. Rohit Vimula (as per reported in media) has attended a union meeting and immediately got himself hanged may be around 5 to 6 pm. . When he wrote that letter… What was his state of mind …why his body disposed off by local police…. there are many unanswered questions. …. last monthly scholarship of Rs 25000 received by him was in November 2015 just 2 months before. But all of you blaming minister for duing her duty of replying letters.
    2. Opportunities given to 15 to speak on Nationalism and only Prof. Paranjape spoke something different and he was heckled.
    3. ”important part of our rituals” has been changing. Regarding Mahishasur Prof. Paranjape has shown a way out and you want to stick to old rituals of REVENGE.
    Hermeneutics of mediality but no opportunity in JNU.

    Please also note that Teachers association JNUTA is prompt in condemning Prof Amita Singh but has bit condemn Anti India sloganeering on 9th Feb. 2016 till date.

    • AmarKanth

      Replying?? Seriously? You ignoramus. Letters in the tune prompting steer action is replying?

  • Vir Narain

    An impassioned and highly articulate
    But this was a bit ‘over the top’ and greatly took away from the credibility of the (anonymous?) student who wrote it “You said it is alright to worship Mahishasur, but not okay to term Durga as a sex worker. Well, firstly, I do not understand what is so insulting about being a sex worker? I for one, would be proud to be a part of a community where a sex worker is worshipped as a deity.”
    Often, by overstating our case, we undermine it.

    • AmarKanth

      There is a time and place to overstate and this is the right time.

      • Amit Chaurasia

        So I can definitely address you as bastard anti-national anti-hindu for this is the right time to overstate few things.

        • AmarKanth

          No chaddi fucker, you are the lowest imbecile born on this land and the real anti national is really you.

  • Mamata

    Some CRPF jawans got killed by your idols recently. Go celebrate.

    • All Hindus don’t revere Cows or Bulls. Since BJP itself maintains that all Indian’s regardless of their religion are Hindus then I can definitely say that atleast 20% of Hindus in India don’t revere Cattle.

      • Mamata

        I don’t support beef bans. I am an atheist and enjoy a steak on occasion . I just called out the false analogy. All Indians don’t revere Mohammad either.

        • AmarKanth

          You have been lying through out. Neither are you remotely associated with JNU nor are you an atheist. If the latter was true you wouldn’t blatantly go around supporting those very thugs who shoot down rationalists and atheists. Why don’t you try that stunt in some other forum.

          • DeeSha

            How do you define the word ‘atheist’ ??

    • AmarKanth

      A dietary analogy is tandem in comparison to another. So, the analogy holds ground. An artistic comparison would hold if you were to compare M.F.Hussian drawing durga and getting exiled to someone drawing Mohammand and getting a similar treatment. So missy, you like your psychotic professor are barking up the wrong tree.

      By the way, your reference to jawans getting killed thus imploring a celebration speaks volumes of the bias that you hold.

      • Mamata

        No one exiled Hussain. He chose to run away instead of fighting his cases in court. I supported his right to draw anything he wanted till he took Qatari citizenship (btw, he was the only non-arab who was given this special privilege as a personal gift- ever wonder why). By doing so he proved he did not care about artistic freedom.

        JNU celebrating the death of CRPF jawans is not new. They have done this for years- even before BJP came to power. Maybe u are not as acquainted with the campus as I am.

        You can carry on with your abusive ranting. Like most of JNUs output- it is Sound and Fury signifying nothing.

        • AmarKanth

          Yeah right! Chose to run away from the death threats and lynching. We all know how Dabholkar, Pansare, Kalburgi etc ended up. Easy for you to sit in your arm chair and preach righteousness. And the right to draw draw anything ceases the moment you change citizenship? Seriously? Is that your best comeback?

          JNU has also been burning the Indian constitution by those you hold in good esteem even before BJP came to power. I don’t see anyone complaining then. So, why all this humbug now?

          • Mamata

            Yes, the rot in JNU is very deep. Agree with you there. Regarding Hussain -I wud have understood if MF Hussain took French or US citizenship. Those countries have freedom of speech- but apparently Hussain’s Mecca was Qatar 🙂

            Take up law and order issues with state govts at the time of the deaths. If you can assume that some ppl you dislike killed Dabholkar, Pansare, Kalburgi etc with no court conviction then why do u get ants in your pants when I bring up the uncomfortable fact of JNU routinely celebrating various terrorists (what was the significance of 9th Feb?) and rejoicing in the death of armymen and civilians? Admit it. Own it. Be proud of it.

            Back in the day CPIM leaders went to jail for supporting China in the 1962 war. This new generation of leftists are pussies pleading for bail!

            You JNUtards are worse than ISIS. They don’t hide their ideology under constitutional rights (after burning the constitution) and don’t subsist on taxpayer money.

          • AmarKanth

            baawahha …. if Hussain had taken a US citizenship you would have been ok to let him draw as he pleases? Perhaps you forget that UAE was among the first countries to have granted him asylum.

            And like I suspected earlier, you are not even remotely associated with JNU. The people you talk of celebrating terrorists are not the kind I represent, so speak for yourself. When pointed out that the Indian Constitution was desecrated by chaddis you have your panties in a knot. Why is that? That’s ok with you?

            Pleading for mercy has been the sole prerogative of right wing closet fanatics like yourself, ever since your hero Sarvarkar pleaded pardon from the British.

          • Mamata

            Yes it would have been perfectly ok. Hussain made no appeal for asylum in UAE. The citizenship was a special gift from the Sheikh- odd isn’t it?

            You know what else is odd? That no freedom fighter of your Nehru gang was ever sent to Andaman. They did not face the torture that was rampant in Cellular Jail. Go visit that sometime instead of judging them from far away. The Congis were never in isolated, hard labor prisons.

            Of course the facts are not relevant to you. But on this public forum, its stupid to lie 🙂

          • AmarKanth

            Do you have any shame? Any shame at all to imply that no one from the INC has been sent to Andaman? You are such a cunt. Yogendra Shukla, Yahya Ali, Kedar Mani Shukla, Alauddin Sheikh, Shyamdeo Narayan …. google for more you imbecile.

            All you have is your Savakar who cried like a baby pleading allegiance with the British.

            In retrospect, have you visited Andaman yourself, you low life? Did you see the names of those inscribed on the wall? Tell me, how were they categorized?

          • Mamata

            Fun to see another Commie stooge frothing at the mouth- reduced to abuse. Go ahead, show us how you were brought up 😊

          • AmarKanth

            That’s right, when corned you cry victimization, typical chaddi style. No answer to the questions I posed? You like your fanatic chaddi brigade ace in spreading lies with so much confidence that the people who know truth would doubt themselves.

            I was a commie, then i turned a congi, now again a commie? Why don’t you make up your mind as to which one.

          • roger818

            Oh for christ sake no hindu murdered hussain in broad daylight unlike the charlie hebdo case neither did they shoot ambassadors of arab countries but the danes were not that lucky when 200 people died during that controversy as for that che follower kanhaiya well his hero used torture people who protested against the communist regime so same was the case in soviet so don’t even act as if you lefties care about free speech.He follows a communist ideology then calls modi a facist amazing thing is that commies have killed way more people then facists but even nazis were left wing socialists who were atheists just like their communists friends.You calling someone a chaddi “fanatic” is a bit hypocritical since you support a university that runs on tax payer money which wouldn’t have been a problem if they didn’t waste money on stupid humanities major like gender studies and if they didn’t follow the genocidal ideology which nothing but worship of state.

          • DeeSha

            Just saying – I like the superb intellect you display – the choice of words to describe your thoughts. Brilliant 😀

            Before you do some research on me – I am not from JNU. Hope that does not debar me from commenting.

          • AmarKanth

            What presumptuous clap trap! Subsist on taxpayer money? Only your money? The problem with imbecilic ignoramus who come up with such arguments is that you sit on your brain and talk from the same vicinity.

            “You JNUtards are worse than ISIS. At least they don’t hide their ideology”

            Well I have the same to tell you as well. You chaddis are worse than those muslim butchers of Bangladesh. At least they don’t hide. Killers of rationalist like yourself shoot and scoot, needs no elaboration of your bravery.

  • Ghasi Ram

    Apropos your ‘since pork is not banned, we do not organise pork festivals’ argument, let me give you an idea about something that is implicitly banned: how about drawing cartoons of Muhammad(not insulting but any cartoons)? Try it. In the name of freedom of expression. It is something that is implicitly banned. When you have done it you will earn my respect.

    • AmarKanth

      A dietary analogy is tandem in comparison to another. So, the analogy
      holds ground. An artistic comparison would hold if you were to compare
      M.F.Hussian drawing durga and getting exiled to someone drawing
      Mohammand and getting a similar treatment. So Ghassi, you like your
      psychotic professor are barking up the wrong tree.

      • Amit Chaurasia

        How about you eating pork in Kashmir or organising Pork party in Srinagar ? Do that and then we talk. Bastard.

        • AmarKanth

          Pork parties and eating pork is done all the time in Kerala. Come and join sometime. Kashmir on the other hand have the same psychotic muslim religious fundamentalists who lynch as their hindu brethren in UP. So fuck off motherfucker.

    • AmarKanth

      Also, the lower strata of the population does not survive by drawing cartoons of Mohammand. The very little meat they get, since dal is unaffordable comes from animals

      • Mamata

        So let us stop JNUs subsidy and spend it on this lower strata.

        • AmarKanth

          That’s like saying schooling hasn’t been successful in eradicating illiteracy in the last two decades, so get rid of schools! I don’t think you have anything to do with JNU, even those in the AVBP are better equipped in dealing with logical fallacies than you.

          • Makishima

            Ah, an ad hominem. How enlightened must one be to resort to such refreshing tactics!

          • AmarKanth

            You wouldn’t even tell the difference between a ad hominem and a euphemism even if it hit you on the head.

          • Makishima

            Oh, but I did call you on your ad hominem. Were you actually hit on your head that you couldn’t grasp something so obvious?

          • AmarKanth

            You replied to me, didn’t you? Which indicates you are talking to me?

          • Makishima

            Tch, tch. You think your implication that Mamata is inept at dealing with logical fallacies is not an ad hominem? Just to drill the point home, I quote from your comment: …even those in the AVBP are better equipped in dealing with logical fallacies than you.

            As for education, I yearn to learn. Constantly. And I adapt, evolve and become better at day. And what I learned from this exchange is that I should stop schooling you because you’re going to keep replying with more inanity… a troll whose self-esteem is boosted by having the last word- no matter how nonsensical said last word is.

          • AmarKanth

            lol! you seem like a sensible guy. Tell me, Mamta suggesting closing down of JNU to you is logical but me point out the futility of such a suggestion isn’t? Yeah, I do admit the comment you quote does fall under that category but that’s missing the the wood for the trees.

          • Makishima

            You seem like a sensible guy too, yet you equate “stopping JNU’s subsidy” (to quote Mamata) with “closing down of JNU” (to quote you paraphrasing Mamata).

            When I jumped in, by the way, it wasn’t to point out the logicality of your argument- only the ad hominem. I may or may not agree with it but I’m open to hearing you out.

          • AmarKanth

            Manta “My view- forget JNU, education spending in India is too top-heavy and I would like some diversion of funds to primary schooling like u see in western nations.”
            “You JNUtards are worse than ISIS.”

            Reading but not enough. If you choose to continue on a fallacious ignoratio elenchi argument, be my guest. Your leanings have been made obvious when you point to a long verbal exchange and nitpick an irrelevant technicality with an intend to deviate from the core issue at hand.

            Therefore, to reiterate, if you are in sync with her argument that stopping subsidy granted to JNU and diverting it to uplift the lower strata is beneficial, then we can discuss this further. If not, it is a waste of my time. Your call.

          • Makishima

            You’ve quoted stuff that is irrelevant and then humoured yourself by drawing inferences that aren’t correct. Both those things that Mamata said still do not equate to “stopping JNU’s subsidy”, as you paraphrased.

            I didn’t even want to get in a detailed discussion on this subject because, like you said, my views are clear which are usually unacceptable to the Liberal Camp (hereafter referred to as LC). The LC, I find, is generally incapable of holding a civil discussion without resorting to insults, mockery, ad hominem, etc., and too quick to call “bhakt” on everyone who doesn’t align with the LC school of thought. You (since you’re part of what I deem to be the LC) might be a sensible lot but you defy all the paradigms of liberalism by being unwilling to listen to those who disagree with you.

            That’s what I gleaned from this particular comment thread and that was what my first comment to you was all about.

            If you can swallow the bitter pill of a civilized repartee, then, by all means, let’s talk about the (f)utility of JNU subsidy, etc.

          • AmarKanth

            Nah! you weren’t following. I said “..if you are in sync with her argument that stopping subsidy granted to
            JNU and diverting it to uplift the lower strata is beneficial, then we
            can discuss this further.”

            I am for subsidy, lets hear your arguments against it.

          • Makishima

            Hear me then. I am against heavy subsidy at higher levels of education. Our economy cannot bear the burden of producing “thinkers” virtually for free at the cost of having enough quality doctors, engineers, scientists and other professionals who I think add way more value to our society.

            Compare the fee structure of IITs with that of JNU. That alone is enough to substantiate my argument.

            And I hope you’ll have something more tangible to add than, “But IITians leave the country anyway” or “IITians take up high-paying corporate jobs.” That’s all been said and done but they at least don’t perpetuate the mentality of being parasites on a welfare state.

          • Mamata

            Forget IITs. Their fees get increased regularly. Even if you compare JNU to other Central Universities- for example, to Delhi University which is in the same city, the fees are peanuts.

            No wonder JNU’s intrepid troll is reduced to spluttering abuse when faced with such facts 🙂

          • Makishima

            He needs to be talked with patiently, that’s all. Indoctrination from either extreme of the spectrum isn’t easily overcome.

            And patience is the one thing missing from comments on Disqus.

          • Makishima

            Wait, I just went through his comment history. I thought you were making up the stuff about him calling you a “c**t”. I see what you mean now. Hmmm. Infuriating, to say the least.

    • Exactly right. The comparison should be to things that inflame passions, not an arbitrary restriction to dietary preferences. Muslims don’t eat pork because they consider the pig a filthy animal, much like the Kuffar who might eat the pig. Eating pig would only demonstrate to the momeen that the kuffar are also like pigs, as the Quran assures them. However, a good test would be organize a Mohammed cartoon day.

  • Kirav

    cull.

  • Abhinav
  • Amit Chaurasia

    Your jholachhhaap arguments are nicely busted by the prof himself. Just one thing, how much does your mother Sr.Shukla charge for night ?? Is there any offer of mother pe uski daughter free ?

    And I promise I will worship you as deity. Will you feel proud to be in this community ?

    • AmarKanth

      Same as your randi mother who have been catering to chaddis for years.

  • Sean Marsh

    Well, now that it is clear that the guardians of freedom of expression and liberal values running this portal did not deem it fit to publish Prof. Paranjape’s response to this illogical piece, their hypocrisy, anti-logic and anti-fact stance stands exposed. You should be ashamed of the fact that you claim to represent leftisit vaues and yet you prefer silencing any ideological challenge by not publishing the ‘other’ viewpoint. Such insecure lot you are. But this happens when you believe in decrepit ideologies that are not based on reason and facts, but just based on grandstanding and lots of hate. Please hide your faces in your jholas after being exposed, yet again.

  • Vivek Shukla

    “when the Savarnas can insult a tribal deity in their mythology, what is wrong with the tribal mythology insulting a Savarna deity?”
    🙂 Nonsense! What a joker this author of the letter… and she call herself a reasonable person supporting Durga being called as sex worker. Hopeless person.

  • Vivek Shukla
  • Vivek Shukla

    Maitreyee Shukla,

    Prof. Makarand Paranjape’s response to your “Open letter” is brilliant. Try to understand.

    Best of Luck.

  • Karthick

    These are just the foot soldiers of the church. Either willing or unwillingly co opted ones.

    Nationalism is anathema to the global world that the Order is ushering in. This is a drive towards Armageddon. Pagans beware!

    Capitalism, communism, Nazism, evangelism, and liberalism are tools to weaken the human race. The Order seems to be weakening though or they wouldn’t make such noise.

  • DeeSha

    Just trying to understand this statement “I am sure you are aware that less than 10% of the Indian population is studying in its universities.” Don’t we need some from the population to study in schools, some to be in the Armed Forces, some to work in industries, some to farm and till the land, some to work on constructing homes and other infrastructure, some to fly us around, some to clean up garbage, some to treat the unwell, and so on …

    Can some smart person explain the above please !!!