Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi has been in the eye of a political storm for the past two years. From media trials to sedition cases to continuous conflict with the university administration and the state, students of the reputed university have had to come through a lot, and the battle is not over yet.
In the latest addition to the structural breakdown of the reputed university, the JNU administration has introduced multiple-choice questions for the university’s entrance examinations. These questions demand one correct answer and encourage cramming and rote learning. This move reduces the exams to a game of memory by replacing the descriptive questions that used to assess conceptual clarity, creativity, writing and analytical skills of the applicants.
This change in entrance examinations is part of a bigger plan to destroy the quality of the university along with what it used to stand for.
JNU and a couple of other universities where a fervent culture of political discourse has thrived have been at the receiving end of a lot of backlashes since Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Bharatiya Janata Party-led government came to power in 2014. Left-leaning political students at these universities are an ideological threat to the saffron party at a hub where young minds are shaped and tempered.
Mission to dismantle JNU?
The face-off between JNU and a right-wing-led state started on February 9, 2016, when JNU students held a protest against the capital punishment meted out to Afzal Guru, who had been convicted in a 2001 attack on Parliament. They argued that the manner in which Guru’s sentence was carried out was contentious.
Some of the students were booked for sedition for allegedly having raised anti-India slogans. A section of the media took it upon themselves to air doctored videos of the protest and further demonize the students before they were found guilty by any court of law.
Meanwhile, a student named Najeeb Ahmad was disappeared after a scuffle with the members of the student wing of the BJP in October 2016. To this date, he hasn’t been found.
The structural breakdown of the university was under way.
Freedom Square, the JNU administration block known for protests, was blocked with iron grilles and flowerpots, with a court order taking away the students’ right to protest there.
Eventually, dhabas – the makeshift eateries that doubled as hang-out spots for students – were closed; arbitrary show-cause and other notices were given to dissenting students, citing absurd reasons; random police cases were filed against students; the university’s well-reputed sexual-harassment cell was dismantled and replaced by an undemocratic body headed by the administration; and compulsory attendance was imposed on students to encourage narrow examination-centric approach toward education. The authority kept harassing scholars while hooligans issued death and rape threats against student activists.
Amid all this, massive seat cuts in MPhil and PhD courses, resulting in almost zero seats in some departments, happened along with a humongous fee hike that would potentially scuttle reservations for minority communities in almost all courses. Further, forged minutes of Academic Council meetings, where crucial decisions are made, were circulated. Other undemocratic moves include reducing funds for humanities and instead introducing skill-based courses.
Finally, the university was granted “autonomy,” which actually means withdrawal of government subsidy and privatization.
The state vs universities
It’s not JNU alone. Since 2014 attempts to quell dissent in universities has intensified. Political appointees have become vice-chancellors and heads in places known for having a history of protest, dissent and subversive art, such as JNU’s Film and Television Institute of India (FTII) and Ramjas College.
The BJP government is wary of students who believe in interrogating, challenging and questioning authority and not letting the government be treated as sacrosanct. These are the same youth who are against letting fanatic nationalism overtake the minds of the masses, as intended by the rising Hindu nationalists.
Long known as a “bastion of the left,” JNU was one such university that created and housed these inquisitive, young minds. It was founded on the principles of scientific socialism and it encouraged an intense culture of rigorous debate and discussions while providing access to students from marginal sections of the society.
What JNU means
The political legacy of JNU was not created overnight.
JNU was established in 1969 under the prime ministership of Jawaharlal Nehru. There was a great influence of left-liberal and socialist thinkers who shaped the university. In fact, “fostering national integration” was one of the founding principles of JNU.
The burgeoning years of the university saw it getting involved in larger socio-political issues, movements for social justice and democratic values, and secularism, and its students were vocal on every major issue faced by the country. The one-of-its kind political graffiti on JNU walls reflect and take forward this legacy.
Lately, over some years, the student demography in JNU has changed unprecedentedly to include people from almost all sections of society and especially those from minority communities – dalits, tribals, and other backward castes (OBC). People from these communities constitute almost half of the student body.
This approach toward inclusion, diversity and representation drastically changed campus politics. The rising voices of these otherwise marginalized sections shook the foundations of Islamophobia, the dominance of upper-caste Hindus, and neoliberalism that the right-wingers were ushering in. When the BJP assumed power, it started to target JNU. Student activists were subjected to witch-hunts, the university was demonized in the mainstream media, and most important, its core structure was weakened.
The Man Booker Prize-winning author Arundhati Roy wrote in My Seditious Heart about the interest of the BJP’s parent organization Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh in the university: “The RSS recognized that if what was going on in JNU was not stopped, it could one day pose an intellectual and existential threat to the fundamental principles and politics of Hindutva. Why so? Because such an alliance proposes, even if only conceptually, the possibility of a counter-mobilization, a sort of reverse engineering of the Hindutva project. It envisions an altogether different coalition of castes, one that is constituted from the ground up, instead of organized and administered from the top down.”
JNU has become a den for anti-Nationals and Maoist sympathizer rascals, who do not study but indulge in anti-India activities. Events since past 2 years has proven beyond any doubt that to destablize PM Modi’s Govt. these rascals are supported by CONgress, Left, Maoists, TMC, AAP, SP and BSP traitors.
JNU was a place where one could think ,debate thus widen mental horizons and think logically. This is against dogmatic thinking thus religious begots are bent upon to crush such places where independent thinking is encouraged .
It is a totally biased article devoid of ground reality
JNU was not established under the prime ministership of Jawaharlal Nehru in 1969. Nehruji died in 1964.
Soes the portal support subversive activities…which it is promoting in the article !
Really? Looks like you live in 1960s, and have no recollection of that scoundral Tookde Tookde and Azadi Gang at JNU, since 2017 February, and slogans against India, and Maoist sympathizers. The whole JNU stinks of antiNationals and Maoist terrorist sympathizers.
JNU had been factory for producing Naxalite and antinational breaking India forces. The author seems to paid by secular left and extreme left.
In the US universities opposed the Vietnam War. Hoover and Nixon couldn’t have been happy. There were actions taken against dissent universities. But by and large they were left to be. Those same Guitar stumming students are society’s leaders in America today. Dissent and critical thinking fosters growth. Mindless obedience need mediocrity.
And the irony is that they call the right wingers intolerant.This article is a classic case of bias wins all Let me refute the garbage in this article one by one
1…till JNU was as they say a bastion of leftist ideology everything was hunky dory but the moment an ideology rose up to challenge it they started crying foul.As other ideological entities put up with your verbal violence where their beliefs were concerned where you openly abused their faith and mocked their culture why are you in ahuge tizzy when it comes to the same for you.Oh,I forgot you are the liberal one’s where you can hand it out but you can’t wait alert it in.
2… Why should my money be wasted on 40 uear old who is here to abuse what I believe in by using my money to stay put for years on the campus pursuing fake Phd’s the neither have the calibre nor the intent to complete.
3…to dissent is a democratic right and to have contrary beliefs the prerogative of youth but when it actively ends up tearing the fabric of the nation then it should be dealt.with an iron hand.
And last but not the least….the so called marginalized,the minorities and the obc’s are on JNU because the indian condtconstit had given them those seats under social engineering otherwise if it was an open competition they too know where they would stand…not even at the bottomest of the bottom rung.
I must congratulate the writer for this outstanding and factual article . In today’s world we hardly find writers who unconditionally and uncompromisngly bring out the truth to the international readers.
World stands witness to the terrorist groups terrorising minorities in india being backed up present regime.
It is in support to 30+ years students who are indulging themselves on our taxes on our hard earned money . They want to indulge in anti India activities in cahoots with Congressi’s PIDI & co.
Yes, you are right as we urgently needed anti India gang in the name of independent thinking and waiting with your age at least 30+ in JNU
What about tripal talak, having 4,5 wifes like goets to have 15 to 20 children like pig, Halala ,y your favorite country Pakistan. you have proved your not Indian from heart like majority of Muslims.
What about farman of Bangladeshi kutte who says woman have no soul.they toy’s of dirty &wilthy Mullins.do you approve it.
Is it due to your kashmiri back ground.if you are a Brahmin, what about 4lack Brahmin s who have to vacate their mother Land you are a Muslim.
Basterd s among Hindu are to blamed for the sorry state of India.
Educated girls like you must come forward to oppose filthy,uneth unethical,immoral, inhumane practices among Muslims.whould you prefer a husband,who believe in tripal talak &halal a .
Vijay Chawla anti BJP equal to anti India…..what a shame…!
Totally biased article. As far as missing is concerned, better to find such people, in group of ISIS, jaish a Mohammed, Al quiada
No doubt that JNU is a vibrant institution but all vibrations are negative resulting in negative energy which is bad for a constructive thought..
JNU creating young minds to support naxals and commareds in the Left party asking for m84 rifles and lakhs of rounds of bullets to do a rajiv gandhi type assassination. Thanks to this democracy
A person who doesnt know that Nehruji was long dead in 1969 is giving gyaan. Maybe JNU is the den of intelectuals like her.
Lol correct yourself ….. He died on 27 May 1964. I don’t think the author could have done this factual error but the editor must have done so.
Vijay Chawla …truth is bitter.. you can not tolerate if someone calls a spade a spade…… you would admire the one who admires your boss and his filthy evil party…
What a equivocal and contradiction are surfacing in your reveal.At the out set you have adjudged that JNU has become den of anti nationals.You are stating that students of JNU are getting support from parties,Congress,CPI/CPM,APP,SP,BSP, RJD,JDU,etc.If so how could JNU Students would be anti nationals ?.So,your arguement is prejudiced and baseless.The parties which are behind the Students of JNU certainly their Nationality,Patriotism,Nationalism is far better than RSS/BJP.
Biased n obsessed
Jnu was established in 1969 during Indira raj .Panditji was resting in peace by that time .
Make no mistake this JNU and affiliates are anti India and terror sympathezers. Can this author deny "bharat Tere tukde honge inshallah" sermons by JNU
It’s never been this easy to identify which media belongs to which political group.. keep trying Asia Times… Mr. Modi is our beloved Prime Minister n Come 2019.. he will remain as our prime minister… even if we believe in 100% that u r trying to say.. even if he becomes that u r trying to portray.. he is still better than the rotten tomato that u r trying to sell…
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