In light of the glorious vigilantism being witnessed today, in which the lumpen lawyers at Patiala House are joining hands with Guardian of the Nation Horn-nob Go-Swamy on primetime TV A few years ago, finding myself in a heated but very enjoyable argument on why women change their surnames after marriage, somebody yelled from across the room, “What has JNU done to you?!”
I wasn’t surprised, only annoyed. Reducing my entire biography and political beliefs to an institution I attended once upon a time is a favourite pastime in India, when that institution happens to be JNU. I could have explained to the genius who shouted this that if I do have political opinions, neither were they surgically implanted in me at JNU nor will they wither away like the bourgeois state in Marxism if JNU ceases to exist. I should have been grateful that the JNU-phobia was posed through the formal courtesy of a query. Usually, it takes the form of a statement, “You JNU folk are all lunatics!”
In family settings, JNU-bashing is the preferred insult to shut down an argument, “It’s the JNU in you speaking!” At seminars, a question or a paper can be made illegitimate with the simple investigative exercise of determining if you’re from ‘a particular institution with a particular ideology’. Of course, the person asking the question has miraculously escaped institutions and ideology, remaining gloriously neutral in this fractured world.
Continue reading JNU Bashing is an old pastime, but things just got much, much worse