Perhaps in no other country would you witness university students sloganeering for the destruction of their own nation and for clamours promising to fulfill a terrorist’s “wish”. And perhaps in no other country would you witness top media stars, intellectuals, writers, academics, and even former judges justifying this brazenness as “freedom of speech”. This assorted crew then takes the justification forward and hails these rabid sloganeers as heroes and martyrs.
Actually, a short explanation is in order.
There is India and there is the unaccountable communist republic of JNU, which merely happens to inhabit the geography of India but is covertly and overtly funded and supported by powerful interests in India hailing from the political class, bureaucracy, academia, media, and the rest.
|Kanhaiya Kumar at JNU.|
The emergence of Kanhaiya Kumar and his motely band of terrorist-supporters is but the natural blooming of the seeds that founded the Jawaharlal Nehru University. For those that have followed not merely the history of the JNU but that of the root ideology that inspires and guides it in India, Kanhaiya, Umar Khalid and co’s brazen antics aren’t surprising.
At a point on another timeline not too distant from the present, the JNU slogan of “Hindustan ko tukde tukde kar denge” was given overwhelming support at the party, policy and the ground level by the progenitors of the JNU. The result: Partition.
Very briefly, the seeds were germinated in what is known as the “Adhikari Thesis,” which was a position paper authored by Gangadhar Adhikari, who was briefly Secretary of the (undivided) Communist Party of India.
The “position paper” titled “Pakistan and National Unity”, in reality was simply two things: an endorsement of the Muslim League’s demand for Pakistan and the willingness of the CPI to fully back it. The CPI passed a resolution to the effect based on this paper.
But the premise of G Adhikari in the paper is what is interesting: one, he holds that India was never a united country “from Kashmir to Kanyakumari” and that the idea of “one nation, one people, one language” never existed at any point in India’s long history. Two, he characterises the various regions of India as “different individual nationalities”.
It is highly instructive to read the entire paper in full.
This premise enables him for example, to pen this:
“The Lingayat peasantry of Karnatak.. wakes up to anti-imperialist consciousness and develops a natural yearning for a free Karnatak... So it is with the Andhra, Tamils and with the Sindhis, Punjabis and the Pathans.” [Page 4, Pakistan and National Unity, Edited by G Adhikari, 1942, People’s Publishing House, Bombay]
And soon enough, this:
“… as soon as we grasp that behind the demand for Pakistan is the justified desire of the people of Muslim nationalities such as Sindhis, Baluchis, Punjabis (Muslims), Pathans to build their free national life…there is a very simple solution to the communal problem in its new phase.” [Page 5, same book. Emphasis added]
But more decisively:
“… nationalities such as Sindhis, Baluchis, Pathans and Punjabi Muslims have the right to secede if they so desire…wherever people of Muslim faith living together in a territorial unit, form a nationality… they certainly have the right to autonomous state existence…” [Page 8, same book]
How different is this from Kanhaiya and co’s “Hindustan ke tukde tukde” hollering? If anything, Adhikari’s work provides the ideological basis and justification upon whose strength these “martyrs” enact their drama unimpeded on a sprawling campus created, sustained and subsidised by the Indian taxpayer who’s only recently becoming aware of the exact sort of danger this institution poses.
The communists’ support to the Muslim League’s demand for Pakistan — not to mention the orgy of bloodshed they unleashed in Telangana in 1946 in support of yet another vivisection of India — eventually tarnished their image nationwide.
As luck would have it, in Nehru they found a Prime Minister who was completely bowled over by the USSR, their Holy Fatherland. It was during his time that they slowly began taking control of institutions that shaped public discourse — chiefly, education.
But our communists truly struck gold when Indira Gandhi sought their support in 1969. It’s well known that in return, they demanded the establishment of JNU, a massive mini-township spread over more than 1,000 acres of prime land in Delhi.
Mrs Gandhi’s education minister Nurul Hasan, a true-blue communist, eventually packed the JNU with handpicked party people, communist academics, and committed ideologues to key positions.
JNU grew meteorically. As now so then: academic faculty were a little more than indoctrinators imparting ideology instead of learning. Even worse, some worthies were on the payroll of the USSR.
Yuri Bezmeov, a (deceased) KGB defector to the West narrates how when he was working at the Russian embassy in India, academics from various universities including Delhi University and JNU would be trained in the USSR in techniques of indoctrinating their students in Marxism.
|Protest over JNU issue.|
A friend and JNU alumnus I recently met narrated some telling experiences of life on campus in the early 1980s.
Almost all academics — faculty and visiting — would be card-carrying communists who would drive student activism. Violent, breaking-India type groups like the PSO and RSO too enjoyed relative freedom to carry out their on-campus propaganda.
Students who didn’t toe the line would be mercilessly victimised. As a high profile example, my friend narrated how a former president of the JNUSU committed the cardinal sin of not adhering to the party line. He was rusticated and his PhD was delayed by eight years. He later went on to become the Patna resident editor of a prominent newspaper.
However, the most revealing and vivid anecdote from my JNU friend was that of Arun Shourie being invited in 1984 or 85 for an informal, post-dinner address to students at the mess. The topic was “Media as the megaphone of the government,” and the context was twofold.
The first: around that period, as a laboratory experiment, Mrs Gandhi had gotten the Jagannath Mishra Government in Bihar to introduce the Press Bill to squelch press freedom but had to back down in face of severe opposition. The second: in 1984, the now-defunct Illustrated Weekly of India carried a four-part series entitled “The Great Betrayal by Shourie”. That series had exposed the treacherous role the communists had played in sabotaging the Quit India Movement. It was later enlarged into a comprehensive book titled The Only Fatherland.
The address was aimed at cornering Arun Shourie on their own turf — the JNU — during the Q&A session. My JNU friend described how Shourie came armed with reams of primary evidence, photocopies, and boxfuls of papers and systematically showed how the USSR had painted Second World War as a “People’s War” thanks to some splendid propaganda, which our comrades dutifully swallowed.
In contrast, the only rebuttal to Shourie’s speech came from an AISF member in the form of a question: “how much has the CIA paid you?” The ensuing exchange, as my friend recounted (not verbatim), is telling:
Arun Shourie (AS): Are you a student or a teacher?
Student: I am a student.
AS: For how long?
Student: 10 years.
AS: I asked because I wanted to ensure whether you are contaminated or the one doing the contaminating.
Indeed, not much has changed since then at JNU. When cornered, shift the goalpost, outshout, denounce loudly, or accuse the questioner of being an agent of this or the other force.
And so, in TV debates, the standard refrain of the invited sloganeers was to constantly mischaracterise the issue of their anti-India activism as one of “freedom of speech” and “debate over death penalty”.
And all of this in the service of what Arun Shourie calls “a master theory, a revelation,” and “if your answer does not accord with their line, they come down on you as an avalanche — of denunciation, of vicious abuse, of their sudden discoveries about your motives.”
Even the CPI(M) and other assorted communist parties no longer talk about grand revolutions etc. However, the roots they have spread in our institutions and in public discourse have ensured a sense of permanent confusion today.
When your average reader is bombarded in today’s age with an information overload on every issue, he loses a sense of being able to distinguish between the true and the false, and fact and perception. The JNU episode illustrates this very well: why is there even a debate over the actions of Kanhaiya and his niggardly group instead of instant and fierce castigation, which thankfully, the entire nation has done? The same can’t be said about the media, intellectual and academic elite who made shameful attempts to bestow them with victim status and martyrdom.
What can be done
There’s a reason JNU has become infamous as the Kremlin on the Yamuna, the Mecca of Indian Marxists etc. Given what we witnessed recently, parents need to be wary if their wards chose to study at JNU. And this is not even counting the rapes and not infrequent reports of sexual harassment both at the faculty and student levels.
It would be highly revealing if ever a research was conducted on the exact sort of achievements and positive contribution that JNU has made to both India and the Indian taxpayers who have been subsidising its 47-year-long existence.
Indeed, this applies equally to every Left-controlled education institution (for example, the FTII), which share several common, unsavoury characteristics: “students” staying there almost indefinitely without completing a single course, on-campus drug abuse, mindless anti-India activism, divisive indoctrination, bullying hapless students who don’t subscribe to their ideology, Kashmiri separatism, Islamic radicalisation, and virulent anti-Hinduism among others. Why should taxpayers fund this?
More crucially, the selection criteria for admitting students need to be thoroughly reexamined and overhauled. Even the actual questions for entrance test papers for various humanities courses need a similar overhaul. As this brilliant analysis shows, loaded questions are asked to filter out “undesirable” (read: ideologically opposed/neutral) potential candidates.
The faculty also need to be made accountable for their projects and affiliations with motivated foreign organisations —for example, tie-ups with say Ford Foundation, sponsored visits abroad and so on. The case of Kamal Mitra Chenoy is a representative sample. He was one of the JNU luminaries that deposed against an Indian chief minister on foreign soil before the USCIRF, a body created by the US federal government.
Some have argued for shutting JNU down. A more realistic and immediate move would be to first free it of its ideological moorings and replace it with policies where academic rigour and merit would be the only factors that count.
The other important question that needs to be asked is this: why don’t institutions, for example, like the IISC have such destructive activism?