The JNU and Nationalism
Citation of one actual or perceived wrong, in the discourse of another undisputed wrong, amounts to its covert justification. The statement like, “Well this is wrong but there are many other wrongs”, by implication it objects to condemnation of “this wrong” until all the wrongs perceived by the author of the statement are condemned. Justice (Retd) Rekha Sharma’s Selective Condemnations (Indian Express, 25 April 2017) accuses Justice (Retd) AP Shah for being “selective” in the condemnation of the terror unleashed by of cow-vigilante brand of nationalism, without condemning sloganeering by JNU students a year ago, “which is clearly ant-India”, in his MN Roy memorial lecture in Delhi on 19 April 2017 (excerpts published in Indian Express in 2 parts). The lecture comprehensively dealt with the various aspects of nationalism by placing it in its historical context. She agrees with Justice Shah that “at no cost, under no circumstance should they (the members of various RSS fronts) be allowed to take law into their own hands ….” But questions the motives of “Justice Shah and others like him” for speaking out “only when Hindu fringe elements resort to illegal and violent means in the name of patriotism, cow protection, conversions, etc.” Diversion from the agenda is tried trick to sabotage a heathy discourse. The author’s accusation of “Justice Shah and likes” is not for what they say but for what they do not. Since the concerted attack on JNU last year it has become an idea and many people get haunted by its specter, on and off. To prove her point of the “selective condemnation”, “…….. …, why is that when slogans like Hindustan ki Barbadi tak Jung jari rahegi, jung jari rahegi were chanted at JNU, these were not condemned? On the contrary there were many apologists for these sloganeers…..”
It has been proved that the CD containing “anti-India” sloganeering in JNU telecast by some channels was doctored. But unfazed by this, the jingoists, bent on destroying this center of academic excellence, continue ranting about the same anti-national slogans. So much has been published about JNU since February raid of the campus that it has transcended from a common noun, institution, to an abstract noun, the idea. And the ideas do not die, they spread around and create history, they may be suppressed for a while but not for ever. Indian Express continuously published for over a month, write-ups ‘standing with JNU’ and advocating the ‘shut down JNU’ respectively, almost on everyday basis. On the one side are reason and rationality; the culture of healthy debate and discussion. On the other side are prejudices, lies and rumors with the masala of chauvinistic, extra-constitutional nationalism without concretely defining it. Standing with JNU are most of the renowned intellectuals of the world including Noam Chomsky and Amartya Sen whereas supporters of Shut down JNU are the likes of Venkaia Naidu. Over 500 JNU products working with prestigious institutions of higher education like London School of Economics; Oxford; Cambridge et-al wrote to the Vice Chancellor condemning his act of inviting Police raid in the campus. The purpose of mentioning this is to point out the fact that no other university with such a short history has produced such a large number of academic luminaries. Though not revolutionary or intellectual attainment yet share of JNU products in the country’s top bureaucracy is more than substantial.
The government; the RSS machineries; apologist intellectuals and a section of the media, particularly electronic, have just this one lie to support their thesis of JNU being a den of anti-nationalism that all of them untiringly continue ranting till now, the doctored saga of India’s destruction slogans. I wrote in my couple of pieces on JNU issue last year that I personally know all the students accused of sedition and as a responsible citizen and as a teacher stand guarantee for them that these young scholars would sacrifice themselves for making India and the world beautiful and not break or destroy it. There is no scope of going into her randomly linking the slogans of JNU with stones of Kashmir and tragic partition of the country, for which the author implicitly blames the Islamic communalism, leaving aside the Hindutva communalism, which was equally responsible for creating an atmosphere of communal diffidence and hatred that eventually led to the partition. History is full of evidences of how these reactionary forces represented by Muslim League and Jamat-Islami on the one hand and Hindu Mahasabha and RSS on the other respectively, sabotaged the national movement and evolution of an inclusive nationalism emerging from the anti-colonial movement and ideology by raising the bogy of ahistorical religious nationalism, at the behest of the colonial rulers. The RSS ideologue and its longest serving chief, MS Golwalkar is on record exhorting Hindus not to waste their energy in fighting colonial rulers but preserve them for fighting communists; Muslims and Christians. There is also no scope to go into details of the regressive role of communal organizations and ideologies detrimental to the anti-colonial nationalism; it is an attempt to put the records straight on the JNU student’s movement and the bogey of antinationalism.
The scientific discourses begin with defining the concepts and the dogmatic ones avoid the definition to be able to interpret the concept in the desired manner and delve into abstract rhetoric using complex phrases, jargons and incongruent, similes and metaphors; make judgmental statements without substantiation. One of the worst victims of definition-interpretation syndrome has been the concept of nationalism. There is again no scope to go into the rise of modern nation state replacing feudal monarchies and that of nationalism as its ideology, replacing the religion for the validation of the political authority and how has it been time and again used to crush the democratic ethos and right to dissent and protest. The noted historian Eric Hobsbawm has defined nationalism in a constitutional democracy as adherence to the constitutional provisions. Thus the exercise of constitutional fundamental rights of freedom to conscience; thought; expression; association and peaceful protest by JNU students are the acts of nationalism. The extra constitutional criminal acts of cow vigilante; Hindu Yuva Vahini and the likes are extra constitutional and hence anti-national. Even ranting of Hindu Rashtra slogan itself is violation of the very spirit of the preamble of the constitution and hence anti-national. We are passing through a tragic phase of the history in which the practicing anti-national elements are authenticators of nationalism that must be halted.
Dept. of Political Science
University of Delhi