Monday, March 6, 2017

An academic colour revolution

An ambitious pilot project to trigger student unrest in university campuses across the country is now fairly discernible. Behind it are acolytes of the defused ‘new world order’ that was to climax in the victory of Hillary Clinton in November 2016. The writing on the wall showed that the world’s historical template was shifting from globalisation to nationalism – as witnessed in the election of Narendra Modi in May 2014 and Brexit in June 2016 – but that did not dim the celebratory crescendo in District Columbia until the neon lights proclaimed Donald Trump as victor. In India, this abrupt dénouement was lost in demonetisation.

Now, a fresh ‘new world order’ is being crafted across the globe (France is itching to quit the European Union and cause its demise), but the old entrenched elites have refused to accept the popular verdict. Universities are the last bastion of the sterile radicalism that does not seek a more just world for all, but covertly – and increasingly desperately – fights to uphold the exploitative order dominated by corporate elites that crush people’s movements like Occupy Wall Street and use leftists like Jill Stein to discredit the American election because it defeated Hillary Clinton.

A deep pattern of using or inventing incidents to fester unrest is visible at Hyderabad Central University, Jawaharlal Nehru University, Jadavpur University, Delhi University and Jamia Millia Islamia. Unless treason (which is what calls to separate Jammu & Kashmir from India amount to) is equal to freedom of speech, we must understand that a corrosive anti-nationalism and anti-Hindu ethos is being fostered in campus after campus, with mentoring from professors in leading US universities.

American professors closely monitor their Indian protégés (which is what our West-looking varsity teachers are, even though they guzzle taxpayer money), but their moral indignation at events in India cut little ice with the citizenry. Far better be it for them to address problems in their own country, the most serious of which is the rise of white racism that shows no signs of abating. Wonder why Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom have nothing to say about this.

At Hyderabad Central University, student Rohith Vemula committed suicide after expressing despair with the extreme radical leftism that he had embraced with hope; but the very people he indicted whipped up a frenzy against the ruling party and the central government. His mother is now being groomed into an activist against the Bharatiya Janata Party and transported wherever her mentors need her.

Denigration of the nation and its civilisational ethos is par for the course. There is no shame at anti-national slogans (Bharat tere tukde honge); a beef festival is considered a lark; Hindu Gods are maligned as part of a new cultural ethic.

What happened at Ramjas College was unprecedented. Never in the history of Delhi University have teachers dared to instigate undergraduates to invite ‘guests’ such as Umar Khalid and Shehla Rashid, on any pretext. First, the two universities have never mixed their student activism. Second, Umar Khalid (son of Syed Qasim Ilyas, leader of the Students Islamic Movement of India until it was banned in 2001) is the person who planned the ‘cultural evening’ to commemorate Afzal Guru, mastermind behind the attack on the Indian Parliament in 2001. Student’s union president Shehla Rashid supported him, and the event erupted in controversy in 2016.

No sane teacher would consider such persons as desirable visitors; the principal must explain how the invitation was extended in the first place. That the teacher alleged to be behind the ruckus was roughed up cannot be the end of the matter; an inquiry must fix academic responsibility.

Some years ago, a Delhi University teacher was found hobnobbing with highly incendiary Kashmiri separatists; she has since retired on a handsome pension. Those who believe that agent provocateurs like Khalid and Rashid have right to freedom of expression must explain why a non-controversial RSS leader was not allowed to address students at a university in Madhya Pradesh. Clearly, campuses nationwide are being seeded with discontent.

Immediately after the Delhi University drama, the capital’s Jamia Millia Islamia disallowed BJP member Shazia Ilmi from speaking by abruptly changing the topic of the students’ meeting. Right or wrong, that is how university administration’s thwart what they consider undesirable. The Delhi University and the principal of Ramjas College were derelict in their duties and this forced the college students union and later the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) to intervene. To my mind, the worst aspect of the Jamia incident was unruly students jumping onto the stage and preventing the inaugural lamp from being lit. Perhaps the President of India should direct the universities to weed out radical teachers, and restore the academic environment by sharply curtailing political activism on the campuses.

Finally, a word on Gurmehar Kaur. First, Lady Shri Ram College (LSR) has shunned university politics by refusing to affiliate its student body with the DU students union (DUSU). So her jumping into the Ramjas episode with a poster taunting the ABVP was an act of political deliberation, as was that of the teachers who supported her when social media began to rip her apart.

Kaur, who was hobnobbing with radicals like Shabnam Hashmi, John Dayal, Kavitha Krishnan, and Aam Aadmi Party activist Ram Subramanian, cannot claim to be a babe in the woods. Her father, Capt. Mandeep Singh, died fighting terrorists in Kupwara, Jammu & Kashmir, in August 1999, but she denigrated his sacrifice by claiming that he died in the Kargil War that had ended in July, and used his martyrdom to promote her bogus political agenda.

Social media was unsparing. Cricketer Virender Sehwag, actor Randeep Hooda, Olympic medalist Deepa Malik and the Gold medalist Phogat sisters, Geeta and Babita, castigated her for belittling her father’s martyrdom; Minister of State for Home Kiren Rijiju wondered (rightly) who was polluting her mind (something her family should answer).

Unfortunately, Rajya Sabha MP Javed Akhtar, perceiving the Phogat sisters as vulnerable rustics, denounced them as uneducated, and was supported by other trolls. Again, social media came to the rescue, pointing out that the sisters had earned their respect – and medals – by dint of sheer hard-work. Meanwhile, feminists of the Lutyens Brigade shamed themselves with their silence. Something is truly rotten in the state of this nation.

with due respect to writer 

Ms Sandhya Jain   on 07 Mar 2017

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