SEE UPDATE AT END OF POST, ADDED ON FEBRUARY 20, 2018
Student poster displaying a clear understanding of Foucault and surveillance. Compulsory attendance is really not needed at JNU!
Let us begin with a basic fact. The diktat on compulsory attendance in JNU is only a symptom of the larger, continuing crisis created by the utterly dictatorial style of functioning of this Vice Chancellor.
Professor Mamidala Jagadesh Kumar has, since his taking over in January 2016:
- openly flouted every statute and regulation of the university
- shut down admissions almost entirely for the 2017 academic year
- violated the law of the land, that is, constitutional provision for reservations
- failed to implement JNU’s Deprivation Point system that attempts to bring about representation for students from a diversity of class, regional and caste backgrounds
- shut down the country’s oldest functioning Committee on Sexual Harassment (GSCASH)
- brazenly cooked up and manipulated Minutes of meeting after meeting of the Academic Council and
- treated faculty and students of JNU as his enemies to be defeated by the naked use of authoritarian power.
We, the undersigned faculty members of JNU, express deep shock and dismay at the news that a complaint of rape has been lodged against a JNU student Anmol Ratan (an activist of a left students organisation but since then expelled from it), by another student of JNU. We express our support and solidarity for the complainant and request the JNU community, the administration, and the GSCASH to ensure that the due process of law is allowed to proceed without any hindrance.
It is of primary importance that the health and safety of the complainant be at the centre of all that the university community and the JNU administration does. This necessitates swift action to ensure that the accused (or those acting on his behalf) do not have any opportunity to intimidate, slander, or harm the complainant or the complainant’s witnesses, tamper with evidence or testimony, or otherwise create a campus environment that indulges in victim blaming or casting aspersions on the motives of the complainant.
We are therefore extremely dismayed to know that more than 48 hours after the complaint has been lodged, the accused has yet to be suspended or declared out of bounds from the university, so that safe conditions of complaint and testimony for the complainant may be maintained. We demand that this be done forthwith. This failure to act has tarnished the image of the JNU administration quite severely.
We also recognize the manner in which over the decades, teachers and students have made JNU a space in which women generally feel safe, and also empowered to report cases of sexual violence when these occur. This atmosphere however, has been caricatured in the recent past by sections of the media and by right-wing individuals as one of irresponsible sexual license, which the JNU administration has done nothing to counter.
We are dismayed also by the instrumental use of this case by some organizations on campus to further their political ambitions.
The JNU administration must undertake to cover all medical and legal costs of the complainant. It must fully cooperate with the investigation. So must all other members of the JNU community, as they are likely to have information relevant to the case and conduct of the accused.
As JNU faculty, we reiterate our commitment to building a campus that is safe, democratic, secular and mindful of the dignity of all sections of our community.
Paired Guest Posts by CHINTU KUMARI and UMAR KHALID
[ Every struggle goes through highs and lows. The students who are part of the movements that are spreading out of universities in India – Hyderabad Central University, Jawaharlal Nehru University and Jadavpur University have had their share of internal debates and disagreements, even as they have found moments of significant victory. and solidarity
Students at JNU who have recently concluded their hunger strike to give time to the university authorities to respond reasonably to the High Court directives on the HLEC punishments are now being criticized for having ‘abandoned the struggle’ by some sections who claim to play a role within the broader students movement, when, in fact, nothing of that sort has actually happened.
The majority of the students who were on hunger strike (including several JNUSU office bearers, and others) have said that they have given up the hunger strike against the HLEC recommendations in keeping with the court order. In doing so, they have never said that they are suspending the agitation against the attempts by the JNU administration to weaken OBC reservation in admissions, hostel seats and deprivation points for women and oppressed sections of society.
In fact it is not as if the HLEC punishments issue has taken precedence over the other issues. It is actually the other way round. The students have decided to give priority to the struggle for ’social justice’ within the campus, while simultaneously giving time to the university authorities to respond adequately to the court directive on the HLEC punishment question.The call for a demonstration against the University Authorities by the JNUSU to continue the struggle on the social justice issues on the 16th of May is indicative of this fact.
The attacks and insinuations against the majority of the students at JNU who were on hunger strike have also featured a deliberate attempt to create divisions within the unified ‘Red-Blue’ / ‘Jai Bhim-Lal Salaam’ dynamics of the movement on the grounds of identity. Activists, such as Umar Khalid, on the left have been singled out for being ‘Savarna-Syed’, if they happen to bear a Muslim name, and for being ‘sold out to the Savarna left’ if they are Dalit, as happened with Chintu Kumari and Rama Naga. This attack has come primarily from individuals representing organizations like BAPSA that claim to speak from a ‘Dalit’ position, and it is given traction by several other individuals eager to flaunt their disdain for the ‘left’ students on Facebook and social media. Continue reading Choice, Agency and the Naming of Names – The Trap of ‘Immediate Identities’ and the Vision of a Democratic Revolution: Chintu Kumari & Umar Khalid
Guest Post by JANAKI NAIR
In an interview to the journal Frontline on February 16, 2016, just 11 days before he took over one of India’s most prestigious universities, Prof Jagadesh Kumar had this to say:
I am a defender of free expression of thought in a democratic set-up and students are free to question me or challenge my views. I believe in constructive criticism, and as long as it is done peacefully and within the boundaries of the law, there is no problem.
Declaring his two top priorities, of which one was the redressal of infrastructural shortcomings, he desired
to improve the learning environment by making it more student-centric. Some of the faculty are great researchers, but they do not have much understanding of teaching. What I want to do requires cooperation from faculty members.
These words, which Prof Kumar has thus far not refuted or denied, should be recalled today, more than three months after his takeover, the most tumultous months the University has ever known. It is too early to judge the VC on his infrastructure promise, as some of us continue to make bone rattling journeys on cycles over the most rutted roads on the campus. Continue reading Who will Educate the Educators? Reflections on JNU today: Janaki Nair
Photo Essay by FAYAZ AHMAD, JNU student on indefinite hunger strike
March against the biased and unjust HLEC Report, culminating in hunger strike
AYESHA KIDWAI in scroll.in
The indefinite hunger strike by 17 Jawaharlal Nehru University students has been continuing since April 28, with university teachers and students also showing their solidarity by joining as relay hunger strikers.
Despite the searing heat and failing health of many – including Chintu Kumari, Umar Khalid and Kanhaiya Kumar – the declaration by the Vice Chancellor of JNU that a hunger strike is an “unlawful activity” has only fuelled the strikers’ determination. Although over a hundred teachers met the Vice Chancellor and his team (as he likes to call them) in a bid to break the deadlock, no progress has been made because the JNU administration seems to believe that the fight here is one about the quantum of punishment.
Such is the chasm that separates the current JNU administration’s understanding of what the law is and what justice actually demands that the law has become something of a fugitive in JNU these past few months. The extremely obstinate, vengeful and motivated enquiry proceedings anddisciplinary action over the February 9 event have so perverted university procedures and institutions that the entire JNU administration now faces a crisis of credibility.
North East Students’ Forum JNU organized a protest march on May 4, demanding strong action against teachers who are involved in preparing the “internal dossier”. The dossier was also burnt by NESF at Administration Block – Freedom Square – JNU.
Some images from the march
Guest Post by Anant Prakash Narayan
जे.एन.यू. में 9 फरवरी को एक घटना घटी. घटना क्या थी अब उसके बारे में बहुत सी चीजे स्पष्ट हो चुकी है. सरकार का दमन चला जिसके परिणामस्वरुप एक आन्दोलन चला. कहा ये जा रहा है कि आन्दोलन के कारण सरकार बैकफुट पर है. ये आन्दोलन अभी भी चल रहा है. जब ये मुद्दा पुरे देश में गरमाया जा रहा था उस समय बहुत सारी चीजे डिबेट का हिस्सा बनी जैसे राष्ट्रवाद क्या है? अभिव्यक्ति की स्वतंत्रता (Right to Freedom of Speech and Expression) को कैसे देखा जाये? आज़ादी की सीमा क्या होगी? क्या टैक्स से पढने वाले स्टूडेंट्स को “इतना बोलना” शोभा देता है? क्या जब सीमा पर जवान मर रहे है तो “ये काम” किया जा सकता है? ये सारे मुद्दे बहुत ही जोर–शोर से सरकार के पक्ष से या फिर इसके उलट लोकतंत्र के पक्ष में बात रखने वालों की तरफ से भी की जा रही थी. लेकिन इसी बीच में एक खतरनाक अवधारणा सरकार के तरफ से बात रखने वाले और जाने अनजाने लोकतंत्र की तरफ से भी बात रखने वाले टी.वी. चैनलो, अखबारों, इंटेलेक्चुअल, राजनीतिज्ञों की तरफ से रखी जा रही थी. वो अवधारणा थी कि राजनीति बहुत बुरी चीज है और छात्र राजनीति तो बदतर. यहाँ तक कि हमारी पैरोकारी करने वाला पक्ष भी यह बार-बार साबित करने का प्रयास कर रहा था कि ये सामान्य से पढने लिखने वाले छात्र है इनका राजनीति से कोई मतलब नही है. ये लोग तो बस कभी कभी कुछ यू हीं करते रहते हैं. क्या अगर हमारे बारे में यह टैग लग जाता कि हम राजनीति करने वाले लोग है तो हमारे पक्ष से बात रखना इतना मुश्किल हो जाता. जबकि यह सर्वविदित है कि जिन कुछ छात्रो के नाम राजद्रोह के तहत लिए जा रहे है वे वामपंथ की सक्रिय राजनीति का हिस्सा है. आने वाले समय में हम आन्दोलन को किस हद तक जीतते है और आगे ले जा करके इसको इस फासिस्ट सरकार के लिए कितना खतरनाक बना पाते है ये अभी तय होना बाकी है लेकिन “मुख्याधारा” की राजनीति करने वाली पार्टियाँ, जिसको प्रोग्रेसिव छात्र-आन्दोलन ने हमेशा उनके जन –विरोधी रवैये के कारण चैलेंज दिया है, एक बार इस मौके को राजनीति, खासतौर से अगर छात्र करे तो, बहुत ही गलत चीज है इसको स्थापित करने में लगी हैं. छात्रों का काम काज सिर्फ पढना-लिखना है और इसके इतर वो अगर कोई और काम करते है तो वो अपनी “सीमा” लांघते है. बड़ी-बड़ी मल्टीनेशनल कंपनियों में छोटे-छोटे उम्र के कमाने वाले लोगों के साथ तुलना करके ये समझाने की कोशिश की गई कि आप जितनी कम उम्र में जितना ज्यादा कमा लेते है आप उतने ही सफल स्टूडेंट है. हम अभी लगभग बीस दिन के एक कैंपेन में थे. इस कैंपेन के तहत देश के विभिन्न हिस्सों खास तौर से उत्तर भारत के गाँवो और छोटे-छोटे कस्बो और कुछ शहरो में मेरा जाना हुआ. जिसमे जे. एन. यू. पर बात होती, भगत सिंह और डॉ. अम्बेडकर के विज़न पर बात होती. जब इन विषयों पर बात होती तो नैचुरली मोदी सरकार के ऊपर बात होती. उन कार्यक्रमों में कुछ ऐसे लोग भी मिलते जिनका कहना होता कि आप लोगों के साथ जो हुआ गलत हुआ लेकिन इस मैटर को लेकर अब आप लोग राजनीति कर रहे है. मोदी के खिलाफ आप लोग जो इतना बोल रहे है उससे अब आप लोग एक्सपोज हो गये है कि आप लोग राजनीति कर रहे है. क्या सच में राजनीति इतनी बुरी चीज है कि उससे स्टूडेंट्स को दूर रहना चाहिए? Continue reading जी हाँ, हम राजनीति करते हैं : अनन्त प्रकाश नारायण
[This is a response to Shourajenda Nath Mukherjee’s open letter on Kafila by Prof Makarand Paranjape]
Mr. Shourjendra Nath Mukherjee’s “Open Letter” of April 5, 2016 makes only one substantive point, concerning the agency of students, which needs attention. The rest of it, as the Dormouse said to Alice, is “much of a muchness” – confusion, rigmarole, and thumb-twiddling over precious little, which scarcely need be dignified by serious confutation. Continue reading Fifty Shades of Grey – Without the Thrills
STATEMENT BY MEDICAL PROFESSIONALS RAISING QUESTIONS TO IMA
The National President and Honorary Secretary General of Indian Medical Association (IMA), on behalf of its 2.6 lakh members, have written a letter to Home Minister Shri Raj Nath Singh condemning the ‘anti-national’ incident that had taken place recently at JNU. The office bearers have appealed to the government to take strict and necessary action against any persons or organizations or group carrying out any ‘anti-national’ protests, speeches, debates or writings in the country. They have also appealed to the government that investigations should be fair and free and the culprits be punished as early as possible as per the law so that in future no one can dare to do ‘anti-national’ activities in the country. The office-bearers have extended their whole-hearted support to the government in this matter, again, on behalf of it 2.6 lakh members. As per the statement of IMA’s Honorary Secretary General published in The Hindu on 24th February 2016, this letter is also an intervention to tell medical students, nursing students etc. that ‘anti-national’ activities will not be tolerated and that such ‘anti-national’ incidents should be curbed and not debated upon.
For anybody who may be unaware of the ‘anti-national’ incident at JNU being referred to in the above-mentioned letter, here is a description: Continue reading Medical professionals challenge Indian Medical Association (IMA)
Full text of the appeal sent to the President of India and the PMO, issued by 17 retired civil servants belonging to different All India and Central Services.
We, the persons listed below, a group of retired civil servants belonging to different All India and Central Services who have worked in the Government of India (GoI), State Governments and a wide range of governmental and other institutions would urge all Constitutional institutions in India, the media and the general public to reflect upon the deeply disquieting trends visible in the public sphere and in our polity today. These developments are causing deep anguish to us as they question some of the fundamental Constitutional principles and legal safeguards we have long taken for granted. Some of these are mentioned below:
1) The discrimination against Scheduled Caste students and an attempt to clamp down upon Ambedkar study groups as found in IIT, Chennai, and in the University of Hyderabad. The tragic suicide of Rohith Vemula has highlighted the unwarranted interference of the GoI in the University of Hyderabad and its targeting a group of students, who did not subscribe to a narrow concept of nationalism.
We, the undersigned, unequivocally condemn the unwarranted attacks against Prof. Nivedita Menon by Zee News and IBN 7 and Mr. Gauhar Raza by Zee News. Prof. Menon is an acclaimed political scientist and writer whose work and integrity are respected all over the world. Her contributions to the women’s movement and gender justice through her writing and participation have been very significant. Mr. Raza is a reputed scientist, poet and filmmaker, who has worked in a sustained way for peace and amity. The two channels have engaged in irresponsible and unethical attacks based on video clips taken out of context, creating an atmosphere of threat, intimidation and incitement to violence. Three false cases have been filed against Prof. Menon in this media-created environment of shrill jingoism. We request the Press Council of India and the Broadcast Association to take necessary action against these channels for their unacceptable and unlawful reportage. We also demand that the two channels issue a public apology for their relentless and defamatory attacks against Prof. Menon and Mr. Raza.
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
[An edited version of this post has been published in Scroll.in with a more extensive set of links. I recommend reading it here.]
Sudhir Chaudhary of Zee News has been spewing venom at students and teachers of JNU for some time now, and I have been informed by concerned friends that over the last two days there has been a concerted campaign against me personally. Since I do not watch “news” on a channel that brazenly doctors videos and seems ignorant of minimum levels of journalistic ethics, I am relying on links sent to me by well wishers.
Last evening I believe a clip from a video made in 2014 was circulated, in which I am heard saying that Hinduism is the world’s most violent religion, because its very foundation is the caste system.
I am told that Sudhir Chaudhary challenged me to prove the video was doctored. I am certainly not going to engage with an alleged criminal extortionist (more about his pleasant antecedents in a bit), but here let me say that the clip I have seen circulating on twitter which I assume is the one on Zee, is not doctored, but it is massively decontextualized. I post below the link to the entire event – which was not a classroom lecture, but a political meeting organized by a student group in 2014 after the Kiss of Love protest was attacked in Delhi by Sanghis.
In Part I of this post I will deal with that video, and in Part II with Sudhir Chaudhury and IBN7. Continue reading Look who’s calling us anti-national! The pleasant antecedents of Sudhir Chaudhary and journalistic ethics of IBN 7
Guest Post by SIMAR SINGH
Honourable Prime Minister of India,
I am fifteen years old, and I’m not an anti-nationalist, but I believe that having an opinion that differs from that of the state isn’t a crime.
I’m not an anti-nationalist, but I believe that physical and verbal abuse by lawyers against the accused in a courtroom in the presence of the police is a defamation of our legal system and violation of the Right to Fair Trial as stated in the Article 10 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
I’m not an anti-nationalist, but I believe that verbal harassment of an accused on National Television in the name of Media Trial is unjustified. I don’t know journalism or media better than those running the news provision system of our country but what I do know is that each journalist or media personnel or any human being for the matter of fact is subjected to converse or debate with another human being with a certain decency and a sense of respect towards other’s opinion. Defamation of an accused by a journalist by labelling him/her as an anti-nationalist and calling them a shame to the nation is a violation of the article 41 of the Norms of Journalism Conduct published by the Press Council of India in 2010 and a threat to one’s dignity and public image. Continue reading Open Letter to the Prime Minister of India: Simar Singh
Guest Post by SHALINI DIXIT
I was an average student in JNU with not much political involvement. There are a large number of students in JNU who do not participate in protests and marches. Still it is said that ‘once in JNU always an activist’. It is because politics in JNU is more about applying your knowledge to society rather than losing our academic track. This comes to happen as a part of academic process that we go through at JNU. The readings that we do are about social structures, political happenings, historical events and economical arrangements. These readings are about things outside the campus. When we do these readings we take them seriously. We start questioning the existing realities, including the reading themselves. Unlike most of the other universities we are encouraged to do that.
I came to JNU as a small town girl from a religious background from eastern UP. Like most of the girls from my region, I had a baggage of being a ‘good girl’ which reflected in my conduct and thought. I underwent a little bit of culture-shock but thanks to the upbringing of a ‘good girl’ ready for uncertain future, acceptance came naturally. I was in a marriage which my parents had arranged for me and later had a child. Obviously with all the rigorous academic requirements and a child to look after, singlehandedly, I always had some personal responsibility to look after. Goes without saying that since I got a campus accommodation and a 24 hours open library, despite struggling with my personal life, I could do a piece of research which was later conferred with a national award. And yes, I got all these facilities for almost free. JNU allowed me to go out of my residence during nights so that I could study when time allowed me to. We could meet our teachers anytime, as they were on campus, available for us. All this happened mostly because of the taxpayers money that JNU enjoys. Continue reading How JNU Taught Me To Celebrate My Womanhood: Shalini Dixit
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
Kanhaiya Kumar, the president of the Jawaharlal Nehru University Student Union (JNUSU) in New Delhi, India, was arrested on Feb 10 on charges of sedition and criminal conspiracy. Kanhaiya was present at a meeting on the evening of Feb 9, where incendiary slogans were allegedly raised. Seven other students were also charged. Mr. Kumar is not accused of raising the slogans; indeed the identity of the person(s) who raised the slogans remains a mystery. Charging a student leader for sedition for another’s mere sloganeering is prima facie absurd. Further, the assault of Mr. Kumar, other students and faculty, and even journalists, in court premises by lawyers and others sympathetic to the government, do not inspire confidence in a fair judicial process. Continue reading St Louis Universities Stand With JNU: A Statement
Police plan Big-Brother cameras for JNU, we have learnt. A senior police official told The Telegraph that this measure would help in identifying
students who often raise anti-national slogans and stage protests. It will also help us in preventing clashes among students belonging to different ideologies – the Left, the far-Left and the ABVP.
Remember, dear citizens, the police were actually present at the event at JNU on February 9th. We will return to this point, but they don’t really need CCTV surveillance, they are physically present on JNU campus in civilian clothes, and with JNU ID.
This, also recollect, is the very same police force that stood by while a mob attacked JNU students and faculty and assaulted Kanhaiya at Patiala House; the same police who cannot arrest the man who publicly, with name and phone number, offered a reward for killing Kanhaiya – they “booked him for defacing property”, and will “analyse the poster carefully” before deciding whether other provisions of the IPC apply.
When all the evidence is available – the name, picture and phone number of a man who issues a death threat, he cannot be booked for anything more serious than the actual pasting of the poster on walls, because “the posters have to be analysed”.
Violence unfolds before their very eyes, and the Delhi Police cannot act.
These guys need CCTV surveillance?
This entirely compliant police force, now acting as the private army of the BJP, is concerned about preventing clashes in JNU, which has never ever had violent clashes, when it cannot carry out the normal functions of a police force anywhere else in the city.
So what will a CCTV system establish that the Delhi Police don’t already know?
Consider the following facts, and do come to your own conclusions. We have. Continue reading Who were the masked slogan shouting men at JNU? Does the Delhi Police know?