Responding to the Challenges of Blue and Red – Reminiscences of a JNU-HCU Alumna: Shipra Nigam

This is a guest post by SHIPRA NIGAM

That the past few months have been cataclysmic is an understatement. Personal tragedies and political catastrophes have exploded within our most cherished spaces, and brought a churning in them.  What was truly transformative was the experience of both the emergence of broad solidarities against right-wing fascism, and of the reminders of multiple registers and contexts within them. These underline the need for multiple conversations to understand both our common struggles, as well as the contradictions within, and to renew a resolve for introspection through them as we move towards real ‘azaadi’.

There is of course an ongoing debate on this, and here I felt that some binaries being invoked in it are not very convincing, while others brought home stark truths that pose challenges to a patriarchal, majoritarian caste hindu ordering of society, within which we are all located at different levels of hierarchy, complicity, and engagement.

I have been part of both public universities under fire right now, and the present brings home the urgency of the dual task of defending the public university as a space for pushing the boundaries of critical thought, and confronting the very hierarchies and complicities with power that shape it. This is necessary even as processes of democratisation and affirmative action take root in public institutions . So these are some reminiscences from an alumna of both these public universities who has been wrestling with articulations and complexities which lie beyond institutional labels or binaries. Continue reading “Responding to the Challenges of Blue and Red – Reminiscences of a JNU-HCU Alumna: Shipra Nigam”

Who will take responsibility if the threat to “storm JNU” and kill students is carried out?

One Amit Jani has received considerable media attention with his threats to JNU students, promising a ‘shoot-out’ if JNUSU President Kanhaiya Kumar and Umar Khalid, do not meet the ‘deadline’ he has given for them to leave campus.
Almost immediately as this came to the attention of the JNU community, students and teachers took steps to bring this threat to the attention of Facebook, where the threat was initially posted; of Delhi Police and of JNU Administration.
These steps are listed below, so that later, nobody should be able to say We Did Not Know. The media, which covers every petty letter written to the police by ABVP with great alacrity, has not seen fit to recognize the steps being taken by an increasingly anxious JNU community over clear and specific threats to the life of our students, and indeed to everyone on JNU campus.
1. JNUSU wrote to the VC, bringing this time-bound threat to his attention. JNUSU also filed a complaint at the Vasant Kunj North Police Station to take appropriate action against those indulging in intimidation and threat to students. Students also met the SHO personally and requested him to take the issue seriously and file an FIR. A Complaint has also been sent to Commissioner of Police by JNUSU, with a copy of the complaint to LG and CM.
There has been no response from the police so far.

Bhagat Singh Then and Now: Harsh Mander

Guest post by HARSH MANDER

Eighty five years ago, on 23 March 1931, Bhagat Singh walked bravely, proudly to the gallows, his two young colleagues Rajguru and Sukhdev by his side. His lustre continues undimmed as an icon for succeeding generations, so that it is easy to forget he was only 23 years old. Subhash Bose spoke then of Bhagat Singh as a ‘symbol of the new awakening among youth’. Nehru saw in him ‘a spark that became a flame in a short time and spread from one end of the country to another dispelling the prevailing darkness everywhere’. His popularity rivalled that of Mahatma Gandhi.

In the decades after his passing, in times of public ferment, despair, confusion and anger, successive generations in India have found their own inheritors of young Bhagat Singh’s mantle, men and women embodying defiant youthful idealism and dissent, young people battling for social and economic equality, for true freedom, sparks that once again set aflame a beleaguered wearied country battling the darkness of the times.

Continue reading “Bhagat Singh Then and Now: Harsh Mander”

Nation and its Violences: Sanjay Kumar

Guest Post by Sanjay Kumar

Violent thoughts and deeds are increasingly getting justified in the name of Indian nation. A mob of lawyers has attacked students, teachers and journalists, right in the middle of a court complex in the national capital. Leaders of these patriotic lawyers were later caught bragging on camera about how they will next time throw bombs on anti-nationals. A young woman in Delhi has received emails and face book posts threatening her with acid attack and sexual assault, because she happens to be a sister of Umar Khalid, one of the organisers of the JNU programme, during which according to police anti-India slogans were raised. The mere being of this woman, and her defence of her brother, is enough of a provocation for many men and women of the country to justify the threat of ultimate male violence against women. Another man, Mr Adarsh Sharma put posters in the central district of the capital announcing an award of Rs 11 lakh for anyone who kills Mr Kanhaiya Kumar, the president of  the JNUSU, charged with sedition. Mr Sharma claims that his ‘blood boiled’ when he saw Mr Kumar’s much publicised speech after his release on bail. The popular movie Pyasa (1957) of Gurudutt had a song ‘Jinhen Naz hai Hind par vo kahaan hain’, which used the reality of social degradation to question celebrations of the nation. Sahir’s poem worked because it asked Indians to look at themselves in the mirror of public morality of the recently independent India. That mirror has been cracked for long. With the brazenly violent now claiming that their violence and threat to violence should really be the pride of the nation, we are now witnessing the final shattering of that mirror. Continue reading “Nation and its Violences: Sanjay Kumar”

Save Democracy, Release Umar, Anirban and SAR Geelani, Enact Rohith Act – JNU Marches again in Delhi

For the fourth time since the early February, students, faculty and their friends marched in Delhi. Once again, there were thousands of people, walking from Mandi House to Jantar Mantar. This time, there was focused attention on the demand for the release of the detained JNU students – Umar Khalid and Anirban Bhattacharya, the DU Professor S.A.R Geelani, solidarity with JNU Prof. Nivedita Menon and the poet-scientist Gauhar Raza against their media trials, and a direct attack on the creeping fascism of the Modi regime. Here are some moments from this march.

(Thanks to Aniket Prantdarshi, Kavita Krishnan, Samim Asgor Ali and Anish Ahluwalia, ‘We are JNU’ for their photos and videos, which I have taken from their Facebook pages and Youtube Channels)

Continue reading “Save Democracy, Release Umar, Anirban and SAR Geelani, Enact Rohith Act – JNU Marches again in Delhi”

Of False Binaries and ‘Dirty’ Politics: Divya Kannan

This is a guest post by DIVYA KANNAN

Manu Joseph’s latest commentary regarding the ongoing crisis in Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) and the larger debate on Indian ‘nationalism’ smacks of crass elitism, as a journalist pithily pointed out online. If one were to use a ‘different term’, as Joseph himself keeps venturing to do in his writing, it is simply nauseating. This is for several reasons. To begin with, he harbours a convoluted understanding of what research in higher educational institutes entails, the nature of student politics, the lasting dangers of right wing assaults, and the pathetic misrepresentation carried out by the media, including himself, of the pressing issues in this country. Continue reading “Of False Binaries and ‘Dirty’ Politics: Divya Kannan”

Encounters With the State and Other Comedies: Asmit Pathare

This is a guest post by ASMIT PATHARE

In response to JNUSU’s call for observing 2nd March as International Day of Protest and to demand justice for Rohith Vemula and the release of the then three arrested students, numerous organisations decided to gather outside Dadar station (E) and carry out a peaceful protest. Among them were All India Students’ Association (AISA), All India Students’ Federation (AISF), Students’ Federation of India (SFI), Democratic Youth Federation of India (DYFI), All India Youth Federation (AIYF), University Committee for Democracy and Equality (UCDE) and others. The protest was supposed to begin at 5pm. Continue reading “Encounters With the State and Other Comedies: Asmit Pathare”