Guest Post by author Pankaj Mishra
One can only welcome the broad coalition that has sprung up against the assault on JNU and in defense of the right–eternally vouchsafed to students–to intellectual freedom. But the imperative of solidarity should not make us forget that this multi-pronged violence—ordered by the government, and assisted by police officers, university officials, lawyers and sections of the media—has been in the making for a while—at least a decade and a half.
The empowerment of a technocratic elite that presumes to know exactly what the ‘New India’ ought to do in order to be wealthy and powerful made much intellectual and artistic endeavour, not to mention political struggle, seem unnecessary. Its cherished epithet ‘jholawallah,’ aimed to scornfully delegitimate a whole spectrum of demands for justice and equality as well as a culture of reflection and debate. Wealth-creators and their lackeys in politics, business and the media have long been united in their contempt for intellectual dissent—roughly interpreted as anything that seems to impede or slow down their own progress towards more wealth and power.