JNU hurts RSS' dream of taking over education
The fringe has picked on the leftist institution because it exemplifies the promotion of liberal values, in both letter and spirit.
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The Sangh Parivar through its government, BJP and ABVP, its student organisation in every university, emboldened by the fact that they have a protective umbrella around them, rush anywhere where there is a clash of their ideologies, and also look up to the media and police to back them.
All universities in India are a product of philosophy, underlying the Constitution of India, based on liberal, democratic, pluralistic, secular, rationalist education. Jawaharlal Nehru, the architect of the modern state placed special emphasis on education and believed in "education for scientific temper". This is not acceptable to the forces of Hindutva.
Hindutva philosophy of education flows from their understanding of India. Their understanding is the singularity of the Indian nationhood that excludes diversity and voices of pluralism. Hence, they focus on three aspects of spreading the Hindu doctrine - Teach ancient Hindu culture, teach about the enemies of Indian nationhood so that the Indian nationhood is consolidated (these enemies are Christians, Muslims who do not descend from the Matrabhumi and Punyabhumi) and third; teach Hindi as a state policy.
Mohan Bhagwat has made repeated statements regarding the need to change education in India as he believes it is highly influenced by "foreign" forces. Recently, 1,500 educational institutions established under the RSS were addressed by the prime minister and minister of education with the message of preference given to studying the Indian culture in the curriculum. All BJP-led governments in the country have made it more or less compulsory to perform the Suryanamaskar, perform the Saraswati Puja and chanting of Gayatri Mantra and Om. This is Brahminical Hinduism that has been brought directly to the education system in the country.
These forces have picked on JNU because the Leftist institution exemplifies in both letter and spirit, the promotion of liberal values. At JNU, students aren't taught singularity of the Indian nationhood but diversity. As the events of February 9 unfolded in the campus, a fringe group raised dubious slogans. It is a battle which has been orchestrated by the Sangh Parivar.
The home minister of India decided to act like the home minister for JNU by making statements everyday and labelling the students as anti nationalists. The government has tried to arm-twist the University and trying to appoint vice chancellors, members of executive committees and selection panels who further their ideology and capture universities power in their hands.
Since the BJP government has come to power, they have embarked on a mission of appointing vice chancellors of the central universities. This is being done with the sole purpose of making these institutions of education the headquarters of Hindutva as they understand.
They are furthering their propaganda through organised structures. The fundamental principal of any propaganda machinery is to project a false reality and make the audience believe, with the help of media, that what they are seeing is the truth. Walter Lippman, in his book Public Opinion talks about manufactured consent. This is exactly what the current regime is doing through its practise of indoctrination of Hindutva by starting with schools. They not only use institutional arrangements to spread their message, but also use the spoken word, which is effective in a society with widespread illiteracy.
Since the controversy, you can see various BJP leaders mentioning soldiers who died in Siachen to invoke patriotism. They have used emotive appeal by linking the sacrifice of soldiers, women and family members of soldiers and even named ex-servicemen who had given their land to the university, and generating a hostile environment for the JNU students.
The scenario today is not unlike Pakistan where there were widespread efforts of Islamisation of education. JNU is fundamentally opposite to this. The university encompasses democratic rights to express dissent, difference of opinion.
In a way, this institution is a challenge for them. ABVP has state power and does not fail to provoke. These forces have succeeded in creating an atmosphere of animosity against the University in civil society. A university cannot function in isolation without the support of the society around it.
(As told to Ursila Ali.)