JNU Movement

The students' agitation at the Jawharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, requires some scrutiny. It is evident that the authorities raised the cost of hostel accommodation by inconceivably large amounts, which cannot be justified by the present rates of inflation. The Jawharlal Nehru University, it must be pointed out, has so far been largely outside the influence of the Sangh Parivar, and the latter, in spite of its enormous money and muscle power, has not been able to pollute the atmosphere of the university in any significant manner. Of course, there are quite a few teachers loyal to the Sangh Parivar, and they seemingly accept Narendra Modi and other BJP leaders' profound wisdom on plastic surgery and internet in ancient India, or Indian cows' photosynthesis of gold in their gudders, and other types of nonsense. One must feel sorry for these teachers who are either stupids themselves or have sold their intelligence and knowledge to political bosses for some immediate material gains: their loyalty to the Sangh Parivar is not explicable in no other way. This has become evident in the way they have behaved during the students' movement. They have gone to the extent of gheraoing their colleagues sympathetic to the movement. It may be argued that the imposed rise in hostel fees will make it impossible for students from poorer families from outside the capital city to study in this university. This is not unknown to the authorities or the central government. But there is another factor that needs to be taken into account. In this university, there is undoubtedly an intellectual ferment and an atmosphere of rational thinking. This is probably why the authorities and the government have decided to punish the students by raising the costs of hostel accommodation astronomically. Having failed to smother the intellectual tradition of argumentation and bring down the flag of contrariness, the authorities, apparently with the consent of the central government, have decided to teach the students a lesson. Raising the costs of hostel accommodation is only one aspect of it. This is part of a conscious, well concerted attempt to reorient the educational system and brainwash learners, to which this proposal is only one step. The students' agitation, as all reports suggest, has drawn support from all quarters. Even the ABVP has not shown the guts to oppose it, and has been constrained to support it. The affluent sections of students might have kept aloof, because the issue is not important for them. But the larger section is affected, whatever the political belief. The issue is primarily economic, but a careful scrutiny should reveal that it is assuming a political shape because the government's and the authorities' intention is clearly political. The partial reduction in the enhanced fees is too inadequate and too opaque for the students to accept, and the authorities are projecting the pretext of paucity of funds. It is peculiar that when a sky-kissing stature of Sardar Patel is constructed at a cost of several billions of rupees, students of a university sponsored by the Central Government are squeezed in the pretext of paucity of funds. Meanwhile, the scramble for the gadi in the wake of the assembly polls in Maharashtra has revealed the great potential of the parliamentary system that we have at present; so, have the defections in Karnataka. It is such scrambles that pave the way for imposition of fascism in the name of 'stability' and 'order.' The gadiwallas will not, however, take any lesson, because the witch of the loaves and fishes of power are calling them. The regional political outfits have no concrete agenda for fighting the BJ P and its allied l organisations. Such is the tragedy of the state of Indian politics. The cry of chauvinism masquerading as patriotism has scored successive victories over the people's movements like the farmers' struggles and their likes. Yet no major political party is prepared to stand up to it. As per the latest report, the desecration of Swami Vivekananda's statue in the JNU campus has caused quite a stir with student organisations blaming one another. The votaries (real or so-called) of Vivekananda should be reminded in this connection that the Hindu saint held the social neglect of the lower castes in the Hindu hierarchy as one major reason for the spread of Islam in this country. Professor Meghnad Saha and Sir P. C. Ray also held similar views.


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Vol. 52, No. 22, Dec 1 - 7, 2019