Teachers Of Secessionism

Teachers Of SecessionismQuote
  • The nation must make JNU’s Communist professors the prime accused for anti-India tirades. The indoctrinated and provoked students come later.

Recently, Swarajya’s Portal published a series called “JNU Diary”. The second part was about Communist professors of the Jawaharlal Nehru University persecuting students affiliated to the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) and also unaffiliated students who disagree with these professors’ politics. To safeguard the students’ interest, we removed all names, as the professors came down like a tonne of bricks on the complaining pupils after the story was published.

So, now we tell the story of JNU professors of the Communist ilk in a manner that would not require complaints from students. The documented evidence in the form of speeches and published essays that follows establishes that there is enough provocation by the elders within the university for the students to go berserk.

Nivedita Menon is Professor, Centre for Comparative Politics & Political Theory, School of International Studies, JNU. “Hum jaante hain ki duniya bhar men yeh maana jaata hai ki (we know that it is believed the world over that) India is illegally occupying Kashmir…” Menon says in a video available on YouTube. Can an Indian have an alternative, detached view on the status of Jammu & Kashmir? Of course. Does that make the person an anti-national? Maybe not.

JNUTA protest/Getty Images
JNUTA protest/Getty Images

But even someone who goes by facts, not ideology, would see the mischief in this propaganda of Menon, one-book wonder Arundhati Roy, PIL (public interest litigation) industrialist Prashant Bhushan et al. The UN Security Council Resolution (No. 47 under Chapter VI of the UN Charter) on Kashmir adopted on 21 April 1948 specifies that (a) the demography of the province must be restored to what it was before the Pakistani invasion and subsequent Indian effort to reclaim the lost territories, and (b) the zone must be completely demilitarised. It is only on fulfilment of the two clauses that a plebiscite should—not must—be held in the area for self-determination.

The first paragraph asks Pakistan to retreat from Kashmir; the second asks India to do so. Since Pakistan did not bother to heed the advice, the question of India following it does not arise. Then, resolutions under Chapter VI, unlike those under Chapter VII, are not binding upon the nation-states to which they are addressed.

Finally, it is now near impossible to restore the Hari Singh-era demographics of Kashmir. How can you know the natural will of the people of a land whose Pakistani-occupied part now has more Punjabis than Kashmiris and whose Indian-administered part is cleansed of the Hindu section of the original population?

Yet, intellectual secessionists have been peddling this falsehood for ages. Menon goes beyond Kashmir in the speech above. “India is an imperialist country. Here 30-40 per cent of the country is under control of the Army in the name of Special Forces laws, which are used to crush the people,” she says. If this is not a ploy to break this nation by hook or crook, what is?

Menon does not stop after questioning India’s right on Kashmir. She also questions India’s contribution to the world. In another video, she is seen lecturing in a classroom: “Hindu society must be one of the most violent—to the roots violent—societies in the world. Surely, nothing in the world can compare to the deep-rooted violence, and somehow almost the intransigence of the caste system. Surely, that is something we can proudly claim India has contributed to the world culture. And that…if that is what they (the nationalists) are saying is the Indian culture, then that makes sense.”

But one Menon does not a JNU make. Kamal Mitra Chenoy, Professor in the same centre of the JNU, had turned so bellicose on various issues that Twitter blocked his handle. Chenoy did things more serious than just tweet in favour of Kashmir’s separatists. In 2008, he told the UAE-based paper The National, “It’s the international community’s responsibility, that if there are systematic human rights violations taking place anywhere in the world, they have to take a position. They have taken positions on East Timor (and) Kosovo. Kashmir can’t be ignored simply because it’s part of the largest democracy in the world. We want to place the truth before the community.”

What is this “truth”? Chenoy says, “In Jammu & Kashmir, the state and federal governments are trying to suppress the people’s movement, especially the federal government, and in the course of that, human rights abuses are being committed. They are trying to suppress the people’s movements because they don’t want an independent Kashmir.”

In the India Today group’s portal DailyO, Chenoy advocates more stringent application of Article 370. “The main issue”according to him “is not terrorism, including cross-border, and increasing infiltration, but activating Article 370”. After offering Kashmiris the cheapest food in India, after ensuring that no non-Kashmiri can develop or own property in the province and after being a mute spectator to the cleansing of Pandits from the Valley, what more can the nation offer to the pampered state? It is some unaddressed grievance separatists and their sympathisers like Chenoy cannot explain.

In his book Peace and Justice, Chenoy gives a clean chit to the chief sponsor of terrorism in India: the Pakistani State. He says Lashkar-e-Toiba, Jaish-e-Mohammed and Hizbul Mujahideen “on occasion function autonomously”. “In the Indian argument, there is no admission of how India has alienated and caused suffering to the Kashmiri people. Human rights violations are consistently denied. Access to international human rights groups is forbidden. The blame is consistently heaped on Pakistan, and the Indian role glossed over,” he adds.

Consider Happymon Jacob, Associate Professor of Disarmament Studies, Centre for International Politics, Organization and Disarmament, JNU. In a recent article in The Hindu, Jacob advocates offering an “honourable exit route to Islamabad from its traditional Kashmir policy”. He is upset that “at Ufa, Prime Minister (Nawaz) Sharif overplayed his hand by agreeing to have an NSA-level dialogue with India on the terrorism question, with no insistence on putting Kashmir on the agenda.” It will be difficult to trace a greater sympathizer of the Pakistani “cause” within Pakistani territory, let alone in India.

Jacob teams up with A.K. Ramakrishnan, Professor at the Centre for West Asian Studies, whose name figured in the poster made by Anirban Bhattacharya and circulated by Umar Khalid and eight accomplices. He lamented in The Indian Express that “there is a cop” in their classrooms. This expressed their unease that their separatism is now on vigil. Ramakrishnan, in an interview with Anas S of the Centre for Historical Studies, and Muhammad Kunhi of the Centre for International Politics of JNU, for CaféDissensus, finds Islamism in Kerala “cosmopolitan” that turned “critical” (aggressive?) due to the “rise of Hindutva politics in India” and “the global notions of Islam in a monolithic manner”. Ramakrishnan’s theories must have been lapped up by his peers when he worked for Jamia Millia Islamia in Delhi and Cairo University, Cairo, if not at the Bucknell University, Pennsylvania.

Then we have Jayati Ghosh, Professor, Centre for Economic Studies and Planning, School of Social Sciences, JNU. Defending those accused of anti-national activities on the campus, she said in a lecture, “It was a constructed conspiracy to defame the university and it was planned at a higher level. Among those present at the event, three masked men who raised those ‘anti-national’ slogans were apparently from IB. This is what we suspect.”

Jayati Ghosh/Wikimedia Images
Jayati Ghosh/Wikimedia Images

Let me share an anecdote at this juncture. When an activist, I had accompanied Arif Mohammed Khan (of Shah Bano fame) to the house of a fellow activist for dinner in New Friends Colony bordering the Muslim ghetto, Jamia Nagar. Some guests were from that ghetto. The host soon began boring us with a conspiracy theory that the whole world is managed by the Rothschild family. Khan quipped whether the Rothschilds had replaced Allah in the job of managing the world. The host got so upset that we had to abandon the dinner. On our way back, Khan rued that his unfortunate community now revels in conspiracy theories.

After we dropped him, a maulana in our car remarked that a Pathan—Khan is a Pathan title—is not entitled to enter a scholarly discourse! Any sincere observer of the community will tell you how right Khan was. Many Muslims believe that 9/11 was self-inflicted, that the world is run by a cabal of Jews, and Ghosh believes the masked men at JNU on 9 February were from the Intelligence Bureau. She would have a future in a madrassah after retiring from JNU, if only these Islamic schools were to accommodate women.

The Indian Express claimed three of the seven videos furnished by the Delhi Police at the magistrate’s court in Patiala House were fake, whereas Hindustan Times said the fake videos numbered two. So, most clips were genuine, but that did not make the headlines.

Second, they claimed that the authenticity of the videos was questioned by a certain Truth Labs in Hyderabad, while the institution that tests evidence forensically in the capital of Telangana is called the Central Forensic Science Laboratory. Why the magistrate sent it to a private lab is beyond comprehension.

But media bias is a different story; so we will stop it at that. Eighty-two intellectuals were campaigning for “justice” for Dr Binayak Sen when he was arrested for suspected links with Maoists in Chhattisgarh. Among them, 19 belonged to the JNU, including a professor dismissed for sexual abuse in 2013. Add Romila Thapar, Professor Emerita, to the list. While she teaches in this university, as per the records, she is not confined to a school or centre there. Many touted Sen’s release on bail virtually as acquittal and exoneration. Sen taught at JNU for two years. He was, no doubt, in the company of the like-minded.

Among the professors in this list, Ayesha Kidwai writes in Scroll.in, “… Dinanath Batra, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh member…got US scholar Wendy Doniger’s book on Hinduism banned in 2014.” This is a patent falsehood. Doniger’s publishers pulped her book without waiting for the diktat of a government—either of the US or India. While Batra has no fans in Swarajya, we must fight for his freedom of expression, too, as much as we oppose all prohibitions and proscriptions as a media house that upholds the virtue of individual liberty.

Kidwai was also “one among the group of noted academics, artists and concerned citizens who issued an appeal, prior to the Lok Sabha elections of 2014, to defend India’s secular democracy”, informs educationist P.R. Rajeswari. Democracy in India, Kidwai’s group had warned, would be imperiled if Narendra Modi became the Prime Minister. When JNU Students’ Union President Kanhaiya Kumar was arrested, Kidwai wrote a post on Facebook, which her colleague Menon reproduced in the Communist portal kafila.org.

In it, Kidwai said this about the permission given to Delhi Police to enter the university premises: “This is a shocking and unacceptable permission given without even an attempt at verification of the police’s claims, as it makes everything we do in the university—teach, study, educate, organise, and agitate—something which the police can investigate and act upon.”

Why JNU must be treated as foreign territory like a foreign embassy in India is a question that has been asked on television before. Here, we must differentiate between honest introspection and a deliberate projection of the country in poor light. It is nobody’s case that everything is hunky-dory in India. The problem with the Communists is that their speeches do not exhort people to fight the prejudices, superstitions, casteism, injustices, sectarianism, parochialism, etc that they believe in and practise.

The tenor of their speeches and write-ups is one of ridicule and condemnation. They do not go to, say, a village and tell the villagers what not to believe in or why not to discriminate. They would rather deliver speeches to an audience of foreigners where India would be projected as the ghastliest place on earth—as if telling the Whites to come over and deliver the Brown people from evil.

No wonder, all the trips the Europeans and Americans undertake to India for “misery tourism” are facilitated by NGOs run by leftists. When Kidwai says, “As teachers, we will not be intimidated by this attack on our academic freedom and will continue to teach and study with the critical, probing, questioning eye that our various disciplines hold in the highest regard,” she must note that the idea is not to intimidate them but to shame them—assuming they are left with some faculty of shame. “Big brother can watch us and we can only hope that he will go back better educated,” Kidwai says. Many international tourists do go back home “educated” by Kidwai’s breed. A few among these professors often cross the line of decency.

Rohit Azad, a former student and now a professor at the Centre for Economic Studies and Planning reacts to the ongoing case against some JNU students, “Indian media has changed its stand except for that one buffoon,” referring to Prime Minister Modi. The Informer, an in-house journal run by the university’s Communist students, has carried this piece.

From the list above, the humanities in general and the School of Social Sciences in particular, must be dreadful disciplines for an apolitical or right wing student. “It’s not an open university. It doesn’t allow other thoughts to come in. It’s a closed university; it has set shop to further the interest of certain faculties and students and they are brainwashing the students,” former Infosys director and chairman of Manipal Global Education Group T.V. Mohandas Pai said recently, adding, “Those in JNU are very much shut out from the outside world. They abuse anybody and everybody who holds different views.” This was reported by the Press Trust of India. About these professors, he said, “The faculty is responsible; the university administration is responsible. They are not open to other views. When they hold seminars and debates, they call only people of their type.”

Faculty members like Makarand Paranjpe, Professor of English, Centre for English Studies, School of Language, Literature, and Culture Studies, JNU, are few and far between. Rajat Datta, who took exception to Paranjpe’s recent outpouring against the secessionist teachers and students, is Professor, Centre for Historical Studies, School of Social Sciences. He almost agrees with Pai. “Questions of radicalised self-determination are not new in JNU. In the past, the question of Kashmir has been fought out here through arguments and slogans. Separatist ideologies have been passionately applauded and condemned,” he wrote in The Economic & Political Weekly, before expressing his discomfiture with the nationalists: “…but never has the charge of sedition been levelled against such discussants by the ruling dispensations. The question is, why so now?”

The essay ends with predictable leftist diatribes against the RSS as Datta seeks the answer to this “why”. How both the ABVP-affiliated and unaffiliated students inhabit this environment for years without turning mentally unstable, as they brave regular onslaughts of indoctrination, would make a good study in human fortitude. At the other end of the political spectrum, this is no less than El Dorado for students from left-leaning families—more so for those hailing from the hinterland, enjoying, like every other JNU student, Rs 3 lakh worth of subsidised education, lodging and boarding facilities. At difficult times, if any, the professors stand by their side.

One wouldn’t know if the police had this information, but all students in JNU knew that Umar Khalid and Anirban Bhattacharya had not fled to some hideout outside the campus when they were evading arrest. They were housed in a professor’s quarters inside. Finally, when they emerged, Prof Mahalaxami R and her husband Rakesh Batabyal (Concurrent Faculty, Centre for Media Studies, School of Social Sciences and Associate Professor cum Deputy Director, Academic Staff College) escorted them up to the gate.

At a recent gathering of JNU alumni at the Foreign Correspondents Club, they were questioned as to how they managed to study amidst all these political activities going on all over the place. “We didn’t,” a journalist-turned-politician said, adding, “JNU is for self-actualisation.” India is clearly one country where you can abuse the country at the country’s expense. And you can call it self-actualisation! Abraham Maslow might have revised his pyramid had he been alive.

Surajit Dasgupta is National Affairs Editor, Swarajya.

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