Kanhaiya, Umar and Anirban are the Malalas of JNU, Not the Afzal Gurus.
1. The Army
The JNU students stand for OROP. Why don’t the so-called caretakers of patriotism? If you’re so concerned about our troops, why not ask your ‘patriotic’ government to let them unionize? I know WE believe in it. Stop helping an authoritarian regime talk from the officer’s armchair to justify the pathetic conditions of jawans and blame it on “anti-nationals”. The only dignity the ordinary jawan receives in his life for his service to the nation is in death, when he is wrapped in the national flag and given one final salute. We say, honor your jawans when they’re alive, too. The problem is, I don’t think you have the guts to face the truth.
2. The Media
Do you realize how cost effective it is for the mainstream media to keep covering the JNU case all day and night, with their OB vans parked in and around campus all day? It’s not just the TRPs, the channels save a lot of money by reporting, replaying and exaggerating urban stories. Dadri and Malda both have been easily forgotten.
3.Taxpayer Money and Education
You probably squabble about reservation as well. Guess what – the students of JNU are distinguished in their support, agitation and advocacy for expansion of public education – while you argue over who gets how much of who’s rightful share. If there were enough schools and colleges – you wouldn’t be whining about reservation and everyone would have a level playing field in terms of merit, reducing the need for reservation to prevented caste based-discrimination, rather than cushioning socio-economic backwardness. I wonder if the IIT, IIM and NLU students do that very often. They don’t, for two reasons – their aspirations often lie in placements at high-paying private sector jobs, and there are no unions there!
4. Climate Change and Taxpayer Money
Our Prime Minister doesn’t believe in climate change, as he told schoolchildren in an interaction at Manekshaw Centre, as well as on an occasion in Tokyo and yet he, along with other representatives went to sign the recent Paris pact on global emissions. And yet we have an Environment ministry and a minister, all funded by taxpayer money, and a skeleton of a “Swachh Bharat” campaign that is all show and no work. Fortunately, every JNU student believes in climate change, though I cannot say the same for every member of the ruling party, given their usual spiritual inclinations.
5. Campus Politics
So there’s a problem with some sloganeering in the most peaceful election-holding campus in the country, but there’s nothing wrong with the daily violence waged by the ABVP in just about every campus in the country? Really? Just ask DU, or Rajasthan University.
JNU is all about students arguing and disagreeing with each other. Every JNUite knows that the scenario of students ‘collectively conspiring’ against the Indian state is unimaginable, when the students of any hostel in JNU can’t even come to a consensus on what food will be served on Cultural Night! Take a look at the history of the Left in India or in JNU – it’s marked by internal squabbling and organizational fragmentation – it’s in their blood. Even the ABVP has to open their mouth and debate to get votes for once, rather than through money and muscle – with mostly hilarious results!
And while you’re at it, please explain to me how you reconcile leftism and Pakistan please. There is absolutely no reason why any leftist in his/her honest mind would see Pakistan as an ideal state or model to emulate. Poverty, corruption, lack of human rights, inequality, religious bigotry and militarism are some of the admirable reasons why no mentally stable person would want to join Pakistan or its ways. Since we’re in the middle of my lesson, let me also tell you that azaadi and Pakistan aren’t the same thing to Kashmiris.
8. Our Brothers
Among the student community, Kanhaiya Kumar, Umar Khalid and Anirban Bhattacharya are seen as the Malala Yousafzais of JNU, not as Afzal Gurus of campus. These three may not be heroes to all of us, but they are seen as unnecessary victims by all, their right to speech and dissent crushed. Their versions of Indian history and politics are among the standard versions commonly held among JNU students, because here, we have academic freedom, endless debates and the passion to objectively question. JNU is the democratic space your leaders tell you that you all have, while in reality, it is one of the few remaining academic centres with a healthy amount of democracy, and they want your help in crushing it – while you live in an era of obedient media, manufactured consent and exercise of power fast becoming authoritarian.
However, you are still free to justify a certified witchhunt, in order to sidestep the cries of the hungry, wretched, destitute masses, to avoid the plight of the lower castes, farmer in debt, overworked and underpaid workers, rising mob rule, lack of public accountability, political scapegoating, and a languishing economy unable to supply, feed or employ our growing population. You are, in fact, blindly following the narrative of an “anti-national” university, which (despite the budget session, Rohith Vemula’s death, and the wave of destruction that was the Jat agitation) is just about the only thing the government seems to have answers on. Congratulations.
The author is a research scholar in Modern and Contemporary History at Centre For Historical Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University.