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Let there be noise & opposing views: A Khalsa professor tells us why we can't sit quiet

Sujay Thakur | Updated on: 28 February 2017, 17:01 IST
(Photo by Ravi Choudhary/Hindustan Times via Getty Images)

When we become scared of words, it is the idea behind them that mows us over. Eventually, a psychosis of fear becomes currency and everything falls in line to survive. Recent events in Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) or that of Ramjas College show us shades of the same problem – of keeping quiet despite the discomfort of a uniform.

History tells us that no such regiment has thrived for long, and this one too will wither away if fought tooth and nail.

For ages, the academic intelligentsia has alluded to processes of the liberals/neo-liberal left-oriented structures. And hence the constipated outcry of the right to claim its place in the same structure has become so important. What is evident is the deranged effort of an academic replacement, and hence the epistemic constipation is massive.

So the only solution for the new order is to inflict physical violence to break the existing system and realign with what Bharat Mata’s children want. These ‘children’ are like cattle out of a cage which will run amok without any specific agenda and create havoc because of their new-found freedom.

And it is this authorial freedom of which we are collateral damages.

It is no more about intolerance, the violence on the entire education system is a childish vendetta now, where the future it is not a concern, it is the intellectual and rational black-hole that defines the current authority(s).

If a seminar can dent an ideology, or for that matter, a speech can break a nation, then one needs to have serious introspection about the discourse one believes in or the one which makes her uncomfortable!

The bigger 'issue'

So let’s not call the current occurrences at Ramjas College a clash (of ideas) between Left and the Right, it is more about where is the Right taking us with all its diarrheic violence on educational institutions?

To call it a clash is to justify the actions and to imply a sense of equality of platforms. Dialogues, on which this nation was formed, have been washed away in the wave of stone pelting, and ‘upar ka orders’ to the police who stand and watch teachers and students getting beaten up by some bhakts who got ‘carried away’.

The cease of dialogues refers to a symptom of a deeper tectonic shift – a situation where the law is interpreted to protect one-way traffic of belief, while other ways choke to a dead-end.

With a completely shambled Left it is an empty ground for some to score goals, although with a united front JNU did show what can be done of the dry intellectual scab.

Lords of Misrule

When slogans like ‘DU main rehna hain toh Vande Mataram kehna hain’ hover around us, we cannot brush it aside as some testosterone fest. This is a sort of curriculum vitae built-up for all the aspiring Lords of Misrule, so that when they face the interview for an election-ticket, their worth can easily be proven.

That they have beaten up teachers, didn’t spare journalists, called women names (while chanting Bharat Mata ki Jai!), vandalised public property, went inside classrooms and took pictures of potential protestors and sexual-threats were made digitally.

This is a perfect formula for a career, and thus these so-called protectors of the nation will go to any extent to prove their Hanuman-esque loyalty to their (Machiavellian) princes. Hence this temporary mood stirred by overt love for one’s nation percolates from a misplaced sense of patriotism of the ruling elites.

But tomorrow if the Gandhis come to power, it wouldn’t take these param-bhakts much time to jump the bandwagon, and chant in the name of Nehru-Gandhi legacy.

Stirred, not shaken

So the point is not to get shaken by these symptoms of violence, let there be a clash of ideas, let us simply be rabble rousers if need be, but let us not shrink our spaces of protests by cowing down before all sentiments and poisonous emotions of an elusive ideal.

Let us first define what nationalism is, instead of pointing out what it isn’t. The only way to celebrate a nation is to let all ideas, however contradictory they may be, flow and stroke our imagination towards the ontology of the same.

Let us not fool ourselves by shying away to save our posteriors (because its not something happening to the ‘others’ – we who keep quiet are the ‘others’), or hide our ignorance by saying ‘we don’t care’.

The fact is we no more have the privilege to not care or be apolitical. It is this growing amorphous populace that a few will steer away easily if there isn’t any direction for each one of us.

This is a juncture for the Left-liberals to stop passing off their belief-system as the only legitimate action to move forward and realise the gap between ideologies and practice. It is time for all to unite irrespective of ideologies to decimate the rising right.

For given their way, Manusmriti might become the new Constitution of the country. Maybe one can start by simply reading the Mahabharata; let it be the opposing views – not one view, let the text confuse us – not make us fall in line, let it make us ponder for what different shades of dharma stand for.

Thus sooner, rather than later, our inner voice will find the chord to roar. Let there be noise, otherwise it will never be about fundamental rights, it will all be about their right to riot.

Edited by Jhinuk Sen

The author is an Assistant Professor at SGTB Khalsa College

First published: 28 February 2017, 16:55 IST