March 13, 2016

JNU Will Come Out Victorious in This Sangh-Scripted Saga

Nitheesh Narayanan

CAMILO Torres, a Communist and a priest in Columbia, said “the best way to destroy a bridge is to campaign it is weak as old. In the initial period of Christianity, it is easy to silence a person by calling him a Christian. In the similar way, terming a person Communist will help you terminate him or her who stood up against the ruling class.” Camilo Torres was shot dead by the same ruling class he was fighting against. The ghosts of Hitler in India are using the word ‘anti-nationals’ to finish off all the resistance being built against its anti-people, anti-student policies. That is how they jailed the president of the Jawaharlal Nehru University Students’ Union and two other students. What makes the saffron brigade so upset about JNU? Can a university, a place of ideas, emerge as a threat to the nation which makes its constitutional way forward on the principles of democracy? Many questions were raised from different perspectives and varying departments, both as a part of enquiry and an out of anxiety, some to haunt and others to express solidarity, to widen the debate on various concepts including nationalism and to argue what are the real threats poses before the country etc. Let us start looking at these questions from the very constitution itself. It is true that the constitution of India, the largest in the world, upholds the unity and integrity of the nation. The way it talked about the unity and the integrity of the nation needs to be understood. The preamble of constitution begins as ‘We, the people of India having solemnly resolved to constitute India into a sovereign, socialist, secular, democratic republic…’ Over the decades, the Sangh Parivar has declared its direct war on two pillars of the republic -- secular and socialist. The ideological foundations of Sangh and the values on which the constitution was built can never be seen on the same platform of agreement or supporting each other. And no doubt, both occupy its space opposite to each other, one is of course of democracy and the other with all potential characteristics of fascism. What stops them from implementing this ideology in its maximum capacity is the constitution itself. It is not any group with dissent and disappointment on the way State intervenes in the life of citizens and different developments in the country which is confronting the idea of democratic India but the political force (with the capability to gain power) which has no commitment towards democracy and constitution. Following makes clear what constitutes India. The constitution promises certain values to the people of India which includes ‘Justice, social, economic and political; liberty of thought, expression, belief, faith and worship; equality of status and of opportunity...’ and promoting fraternity among its citizens and assuring the dignity of the individual. Is there any single concept among these which is not being attacked by the saffron brigade in this country? Concluding his speech while presenting the constitution in parliament, Ambedkar mentioned about the goals India has to achieve in the march to a better democracy. He stated that ‘on the 26th of January we are entering to a life of contradictions. In politics we will have equality as one person, one vote and one vote, one value’. But he reminds about the inequality in social and economic life in which one person, one value is not the reality. Caste remains as the major obstacle before achieving this equality in social and economic life. It has been proved again and again that the chief promoter of the caste system of these periods is Sangh Parivar only. We have even seen the prime minister of India praising the regressive khap panchayat. The constitution comes to the unity and integrity of the nation only after ensuring the values like secularism, liberty, equality, fraternity, justice etc. In other words, these are the factors behind building the unity and integrity of the nation. So, who stands against constitutional values is clear beyond doubt and the only crime JNU student community is committing is fighting it. A democratic nation is not a multitude prisoned inside a territorial boundary. The concerns about the nation should also be not limited to the security of its boundary. A nation must be defined through the life of its people which is affected by the rate of unemployment, universal education, infant mortality, the number of children affected by malnutrition, the wage and labour security, gender dimensions and equality, public distribution and social security and many other factors as such. In that sense, there is no anti-national activity bigger than the anti-people policies of a government. What elements must constitute a university? And what does the autonomy of university mean? JNU row has brought many such questions also to the limelight. Universities are not the lockers where the facts and information are kept to deliver to the students. It is a place where knowledge is produced and reproduced. It is also a place where the exciting knowledge is challenged. There can be no idea of university without providing the space for critical thinking, dissents and debates. Order and obey are the characteristics of the prisons in the autocratic society. Enquiry and conflicts of ideas are the way of research. That is what shapes a university. Capital punishment is a part of Indian legal system. But many have come forward with the demand to end to capital punishment stating it is not a punishment suitable to a modern society and it has been used with political motives. Is such a stand seditious? Homosexuality is criminalised by article 377 of the Indian Penal Code. Even Supreme Court has reiterated this. But a large section who believe polyphony is the essence of democracy is engaged in a fight to scrap it. Can we term them anti-nationals? Democracy is also a possibility for heterogeneity, not only in the process of election but in the way of life too. The representatives of the students and teachers of JNU have repeatedly said there can be free and fair enquiry if anything has happened on the campus which could disturb the peaceful atmosphere of the campus or which can incite violence. Rather than this, what is taking place is simply putting the banner of ‘anti-nationals’ on the whole university. There are questions that remain unanswered including why the permission to the particular programme was cancelled minutes prior to the scheduled time and with what intension ABVP activists marched to the programme venue with provocating slogans. There is also total silence on the part of the police about the doctored videos and the role of certain media organisations in worsening the issue. There is possibility of a scripted drama to malign the university which has always been pro-active in fighting the saffron agendas and ruling class. With the confidence achieved through an incomparable unity of students and teachers to resist the attack on their campus and the enormous support received from different corners of the world to the fight for democracy, it is apparent that JNU will stand tall and victorious at the end of this drama scripted by the saffron brigade.