Tag Archives: #StandwithJNU

Sanghis, Sex and University Students – What is it Really All About? Ayesha Kidwai

Guest Post by Ayesha Kidwai

[ The prurient fantasies contained in the ‘JNU Dossier’, produced by some right wing faculty members of JNU in or around October 2015, have been ‘outed’ by an excellent report by Ajoy Ashirwad Mahaprashasta in Wire.org. This comes exactly at the time when the JNU administration has shown its fangs by delivering a low blow by way of the measures outlined in the report of the ‘High Level Enquiry Committee’ appointed by the Vice Chancellor. An impartial examination of the HLEC document and the ‘Dossier’ in will reveal some startlingly resonant patterns. Clearly, the ‘Dossier’, which had been dismissed by the former Vice-Chanceller, Prof. Sopory, has been reincarnated at the express orders of the Nagpuri masters of the present dispensation. We are sharing below an excellent response to the ‘Dossier’ by Ayesha Kidwai, one of the professors – ‘named’ in the dossier. This is taken from Ayesha Kidwai’s status update on her Facebook Page.

For another take down of the ‘Dossier’ – see also – “Sex and sedition: What the JNU dossier tells us about the right-wing imagination” – in Scroll.in by Kavita Krishnan. Meanwhile, JNU Students have commenced on a ‘fast unto death’ in protest against the university administration’s senseless measures. Kafila]

Sanghi smut is in season again! For the authors of the Dirty Dossier, JNU nights are forever scented with musk, with couples draped on every bush, suitably fortified by free alcohol, thoughts of secession, and cash payments supplied by the Awesome Foursome. At its peak, the party can practically involve the whole university, because as per Shri Gyan Dev Ahuja’s estimates, the number of students frolicking this will be 7000 (3000 condom users X 2, plus 500 injectable walas X 2). (Assuming of course that the few hundred left over have gone to fieldwork, have exams, or are abstemious and/or abstinent in nature.)

Laugh as we may (and must) at these feverish imaginings, it’s also important to understand that the very notion of a free university challenges not only misogyny, but also the social apartheid produced by caste and exclusionary religion.

Continue reading Sanghis, Sex and University Students – What is it Really All About? Ayesha Kidwai

Rise Up against the Proxy War on Students by the Modi Regime: Shehla Rashid

Guest Post by Shehla Rashid, (Vice President, Jawaharlal Nehru University Students’ Union)

Rise up against the proxy war on students by the Modi regime.

Cartoon by V. Arun Kumar
Cartoon by V. Arun Kumar

JNUSU rejects the report of the enquiry committee constituted by the Vice-Chancellor to look into the 9th of February incident. JNUSU also rejects its reports and any punishment handed out by it. The JNUSU and JNUTA had repeatedly asked the administration to democratise the enquiry committee, but this was not done.  Now, when the holidays are here, the VC has made public the punishments, after one and a half months of submission of the HLEC (High Level Enquiry Committee) report. Continue reading Rise Up against the Proxy War on Students by the Modi Regime: Shehla Rashid

To the Puppets and Puppeteers – We Students Will Fight Back: Anirban

Guest Post by Anirban Bhattacharya 

To the puppets and their puppeteers…

Free speech cannot come with a price tag -10,000/- or 20,000/- or even a rupee!
Dissent cannot be evicted!
Ideas cannot be made out of bounds!
Reason cannot be rusticated!

Continue reading To the Puppets and Puppeteers – We Students Will Fight Back: Anirban

JNU High Level Committee Delivers a Low Blow – Students Unjustly Rusticated, Fined, Declared ‘Out of Bounds’

So, the High Level Enquiry Committee at JNU, set up under the watch of Jagadish Kumar, the recently appointed Vice Chancellor, has just delivered a low blow. A summary of its decisions (taken from the Facebook Wall of JNUSU Vice President, Shehla Rashid) meted out as the consequences of the events of February 9 and after is as follows :

Umar Khalid, rusticated for one semester + 20K fine.

Anirban, rusticated till 15 July & from 25 July, out of bounds for 5 years.

Another Kashmiri student rusticated for two semesters.

Ashutosh, former JNUSU President, removed from hostel for one year + fine.

Chintu, former JNUSU Gen Sec: 20K fine

Rama, current JNUSU Gen Sec: 20K fine

Anant, former JNUSU Vice-President: 20K fine

Aishwarya, current GSCASH representative: 20K fine.

Gargi, current JNUSU councillor: 20 K fine

Shveta Raj, current SL & CS Convener: 20 K fine

Kanhaiyya, current JNUSU President: 10K fine

Other organisers fined from 10K to 20K

Two ex students declared out of bounds from campus.

This is an administration, which, in obedience to its backers in the Ministry of Human Resource Development and the Government of India, that knows only one way of dealing with the students in its charge – and that is a replica of the vindictive path that eventually drove Rohith Vemula to his institutionally mandated death in Hyderabad University.

This is an administration that invited police to intervene in what was essentially a dispute between groups of students, at the instigation of right wing thugs. Continue reading JNU High Level Committee Delivers a Low Blow – Students Unjustly Rusticated, Fined, Declared ‘Out of Bounds’

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

An Open Letter to Prof Makarand Paranjape

Guest post by SHOURJENDRA NATH MUKHERJEE

Please note that this response was first sent to Swarajya Mag, where Prof Paranjpe’s Open letter appeared, but was not published. It was then sent to Kafila.

Dear Prof Paranjape

I am Shourjendra, an MPhil research scholar in the Department of History, DU. I write this letter as a rejoinder to your open letter in response to Maitreyee Shukla. Your open letter was not addressed to me and therefore you can feel free to not reply to my letter.

You sir, seem to reflect a lot of the opinions expressed very strongly by a section of the urban middle classes. Granted, these views are by their very nature not ‘fascist’ but nonetheless they help perpetuate and legitimate the regime in power. You are also one of the most eminent academicians to have sought to engage in these raging debates in the public sphere, and I very strongly appreciate you for this. Your open letter is one such statement and I would like to take this up as an opportunity to critically engage with some of the issues that you have raised. (Since, your statements are mostly uncritical appreciation and endorsement of these ideas, I would regard your statements as statements made by an academician who has paused to think academically.) Continue reading An Open Letter to Prof Makarand Paranjape

Apropos Fetishizing Higher Education and University Politics

This is a guest post by PRATIK ALI.

[This article summarizes quite well the very many criticisms that have been raised from broadly the left of the political spectrum, about the Standwithjnu campaign. We do hope it generates a lively debate that will enlarge our horizons and strengthen the struggle against fascism]

Whether it has been the scrapping or stagnancy of the Non-NET Fellowship, the increased interference of the State in student activity in universities of higher-education, or merely the (routine) introduction of symbols of the ruling party in cultural institutions (of which universities are a part), a dangerous, and even strange trend is seen emerging in the student response: asserting their isolation from other sections of society as valuable uniqueness. Continue reading Apropos Fetishizing Higher Education and University Politics

Rise in Rage – Message of Solidarity for HCU Students: Anirban Bhattacharya and Umar Khalid

Guest Post by Anirban Bhattacharya & Umar Khalid

“We dissent, therefore we are”
The times we are living in are audacious. As the brahmanical Hindutva fascist forces in collaboration with big corporates are attempting to browbeat (or even just beat) us into silence, what better time than today to be audacious, to show our audacity. And that is precisely what Rohith Vemula did, both in his life as well as in his death. He dared to dissent against the brahmanical and communal structures of discrimination and oppression. He posed a graver “national security threat” because he was not just speaking up against the oppression against the Dalits, but also tried to build solidarities with other oppressed communities – the Muslims and other minorities. 
Of course, this invited the wrath of the powers that be – of Manu-Smriti Irani, of Bandaru Dattatreya, of the puppet VC Appa Rao and the puppeteer – the RSS. This earned him the epithet of “anti-national” as he was murdered institutionally by the communal-casteist apparatus of the state. The motive of the state was to “teach him a lesson” and “teach a lesson” to all those voices who dared to be audacious. But in vain. Rohith’s murder sparked a fire that spread across the country – across universities – demanding justice for Rohith. The need was felt by the RSS/BJP to “teach a lesson” yet again. In JNU the attack came in the form of the facile “national/anti-national” debate. When this was thwarted, in HCU it came in the form of the re-installation of the puppet VC Appa Rao.

This, of course, was an insult to the cause of justice for Rohith. It was an affront to the very idea of social justice. And it was a direct challenge to all democratic voices in the country. This outrage, this indignation could not have been taken lying low. The students in HCU yet again showed their audacity as they rose in rage against the re-installation of a killer VC. And this was met with a brutal lathi-charge by the Telangana Police, a fascist witch-hunt of student activists and teachers, their arrest on bogus charges, suspension of mess-water-electricity-internet and other facilities. The university has been turned into a war-zone.

Today universities and educational institutions across the country are being turned into war-zones and prison houses. It’s a shame today that heads of institutions and VCs – whether in FTII or HCU – are being escorted into their own campuses under police protection. On the one hand the institutionalized discrimination against Dalits and other oppressed castes is either forcing students to drop-out or hang themselves thereby necessitating the incessant demand for a Rohith Act. While on the other hand, through a concerted effort the state is imposing the brahmanical Hindutva fascist agenda of the RSS in course-curriculum. On the one hand, the state is pursuing a policy of massive fund cuts, fee-hikes or privatization so as to make higher education unaffordable for a large section – particularly the oppressed caste/class. On the other hand, to achieve the same, the ruling classes have been preparing to quell all possible resistance to the above through depoliticizing campus-spaces and curbing any and every voices of dissent. Such are the diktats, the exigencies of the insatiable thirst of global capital for profit in its bid to overcome the inherent crisis. While such anti-student pro-privatization policies were set in motion by the erstwhile Congress governments with all earnest, under the present regime, further velocity and teeth has been added to the same. The tightening tentacles of fascism in the country with RSS at its helm has only meant further witch-hunt, increasing militarization, casteist targeting, and shrinking of democratic space for debate and dissent in campuses.  

But, much to the irritation of those in Nagpur, the more vicious has been the assault, the more spectacular has been the resistance. From being against the bogey of Love Jihad to being for Kiss of Love, from being against Ghar Wapsi to calling the bluff on Swacch Bharat, from being against Dadri killing to exposing the farce of Make in India, from Hokkolorob to Pinjatod, from FTII to IIT-Madras, from Allahabad to Calicut, from Occupy UGC to Justice for Rohith, from Stand with JNU to Stand with HCU – there is a students’ spring today that swells across the country. We the students, today, are the opposition. And it is this strength that was exhibited in the streets of Delhi when Justice for Rohith and Stand with JNU merged into a sea of resistance.

If we look back in history, at times when the ruling classes has intensified its assault upon the people across the world, it is the students who have taken up a vital share of responsibility to speak up, to dissent. And more often than not we have seen various such youth and student movements talking to each other, drawing from each other, inspiring each other and thereby strengthening each other. The Black Panther movement influenced the Dalit Panthers. The struggle in Vietnam triggered massive anti-war demonstrations across the universities in America. The students of France 68 inspired millions of students across Europe and the world. The Cultural Revolution led by students in Maoist China inspired millions including the students during the Naxalbari movement which in turn inspired thousands across the subcontinent. Similarly it is important today that the movements whether of the Dalits, the women, the minorities, the LGBTIQ community, the workers, the peasants – should all speak to each other and gain strength from each other. At a time of ascendant fascism, it is imperative that we build solidarities forged in struggles. Because, even today if we remain divided into red, blue and green and so on, even if today we remain divided in HCU and JNU – fascism will ensure that tomorrow none survives. Maintaining our ideological differences – our colours, sharpening our tools of criticism and self-criticism, we must shun the path of sectarianism and build genuine unity of the oppressed against the combined assault of the brahmanical Hindutva fascist forces and the forces of big capital. 

The attack today is relentless. So has to be the resistance. The bail orders for a few individuals in a campus can be a small battle won, but the war is far from over and there can be no respite today. We are confronting fascism today; it is a difficult fight, and no one ever said it would be easy. Let us fight for the release of the students and teachers put behind bars in Hyderabad and in the process let us intensify the struggle to oust Appa Rao, to seek justice for Rohith, to challenge the brahmanical fascist forces and their tightening noose.

Rise in Rage against the reinstallation of Appa Rao, the killer of Rohith Vemula as VC in HCU.

Condemn the brutal crackdown and arrests of students and teachers by Telangana Police.
Anirban Bhattacharya & Umar Khalid are both students of Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) Delhi

JNU Students in Solidarity with Students in Hyderabad

Students across universities in India are standing together against the extraordinary assaults unleashed on them by the Modi regime. Students in Jawaharlal Nehru University in Delhi have been having regular meetings, ever since 22nd March on the situation in Hyderabad. There have also been marches in Kolkata and meetings in TISS, Mumbai. Reports are just coming in of a police lathi (cane) charge on left youth and student activists in Mumbai. Again, the mainstream media is NOT reporting the fact that young people are being attacked and that seventeen of them have detained by the police in Mumbai for coming out in support of the students in Hyderabad. Kafila welcomes accounts from the participants of these gatherings, so that the students in Hyderabad get to know that they are not alone.

Profile Picture graphic of the 'Stand With JNU' Facebook Page that inserts the JNU Logo on to the UoH (University of Hyderabad) Acronym.
Profile Picture graphic of the ‘Stand With JNU’ Facebook Page that inserts the JNU Logo on to the UoH (University of Hyderabad) Acronym.

Some JNU students also took out a  protest march to the Ministry of Human Resources Development to register their strong protest against the police action in Hyderabad University on the 23rd of March. A big march is being planned in Delhi soon, which will have participation of many student organizations cutting across different universities in Delhi.

Call from BAPSA-JNU for solidarity march with Hyderabad Students on the 'Stand with JNU' Facebook Page
Call from BAPSA and JNUSU for solidarity march with Hyderabad Students on the ‘Stand with JNU’ Facebook Page

One effect of the media blackout on the Hyderabad situation is a silencing of the different voices of support and solidarity for the Hyderabad students from their comrades in Delhi, especially from JNU and other places. This is a tactic of the regime to make students in Hyderabad think that their struggle is not being supported and echoed in other places, such as in JNU, and in Delhi generally.

This is totally untrue. This is moment for even greater co-ordination and solidarity. Do not let yourself be distracted by those who want to divide the student movement at this critical juncture.

Watch the videos below, they have statements by Rama Naga, General Secretary of JNUSU, Anirban Bhattacharya (who was recently released from police custody together with Umar Khalid) and Shehla Rashid, vice president of JNUSU.

Thanks to the ‘We are JNU’ youtube channel and the ‘Stand with JNU’ Facebook page for the videos.

An Open Letter to Prof. Amita Singh from Kashmiri Students in JNU: Concerned Kashmiri Students in JNU

Guest Post by Some Kashmiri Students in JNU – See the End of the Post for Names

“Jab kendra main sarkar kamzor ya undecided hogayi to aap ko pata hai ki akhri dinoon main Manmohan Singh ji kuch ni kar rahe thei. State agencies koi kaam ni kar rahi thei. … Usi period main ye sab ghusein hain, jo Kashmiri militants hain aur ye saare hain. Ye usi period main in tatvoon ka yahan par entry hogaya hai. Varna JNU ki history main kabhi bhi is qism ki naare-baazi nahin hui. … anti-national matlab aisi naare-baazi jo desh ki akhandta  aur samprabuta  kei upar prashan chin uthayey. Aise kabhi naare-baazi nahin hui thi.”

When the government at the centre was weak and undecided, as you recall was the case in the last days of Manmohan Singh’s rule, no state agencies were doing their work…it was at that time that all these Kashmiri militants found their way in here (to JNU). It was in that period that these elements made their entry. Otherwise, at no time in JNU’s history have we heard this kind of sloganeering – of the anti-national type, meaning the kind of sloganeering that brings the akhandta, the inviolate integrity and samprabhuta/sovereignty of the country into question. This kind of sloganeering never happened before

(An excerpt from Prof. Amita Singh’s interview to the Uttar Pradesh Patrika newspaper, transcribed from its youtube upload) 

Dear Prof. Amita Singh,

The above quote is to remind you about the prejudiced, baseless, and ill-founded allegations against Kashmiri students made by you. In your clarification (through media), you claimed that “the interview was an informal one” and that you were not aware of it being put on a website.

Continue reading An Open Letter to Prof. Amita Singh from Kashmiri Students in JNU: Concerned Kashmiri Students in JNU

Mera Piya Ghar Aaya: Umar Khalid and Anirban Return to JNU and the Students’ Struggle

I have come home a little while ago from Jawaharlal Nehru University after listening to Umar Khalid and Anirban Bhattacharya take back the night. As I drove home  through the quiet streets of Delhi after midnight it occurred to me that somebody should whisper into Narendra Modi’s ear that he should now start stocking up on sleeping pills. (Maybe Baba Ramdev’s enterprise makes some that he could prescribe to the Prime Minister, unadulterated). With young people like Umar and Anirban as his adversaries, the Prime Minister can only have sleepless nights ahead of him. It is perhaps fortunate for him that the team from Madame Tussaud’s came by and did their job yesterday. Because from now on, his real skin tone will only envy the lustre of his wax work. Umar and Anirban, and their friends, took away the little remaining shine that Modi had left at midnight.

Continue reading Mera Piya Ghar Aaya: Umar Khalid and Anirban Return to JNU and the Students’ Struggle

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

Am I Doing Enough? Crisis, Activism and the Search for Meaning: Lata Mani

This is a guest post by LATA MANI

In the past fifteen years I have been developing what I describe as “contemplative cultural critique.” Such an effort at transcoding between secular and meditative understandings is not without difficulty and not without its limits. But it has led me to pose questions I might not otherwise have asked, and to think through them in ways that I would not have previously considered.

How might this approach contribute to reflecting on the political turmoil of the past eight weeks in India? This period has been marked by national focus on the penalization and criminalization of student dissent at Hyderabad Central University and Jawaharlal Nehru University. In the former case prolonged institutional harassment drove Rohith Vemula to take his life and in the latter it has led to the imprisonment of Kanhaiya Kumar, Umar Khalid and Anirbhan Bhattacharya on charges of sedition. In both instances a witch-hunt led by the media and the right-wing BJP government has created a hostile environment conducive neither to dialogue nor to a calm consideration of facts. These events, as P. Sainath has argued, extend to university campuses ideological, legal and political tactics long used against communities resisting “development” in rural India.[1] Continue reading Am I Doing Enough? Crisis, Activism and the Search for Meaning: Lata Mani

Long Nights of Revolution, Dancing, Music and Poetry are Ahead: Veer Vikram

[ Here are five joyous excerpts of recordings from a recent night on the JNU campus – after Kanhaiya Kumar came back –  recorded by a young person called Veer Vikram. We do not know who Veer Vikram is, but came across his Youtube Channel, and were struck by the raw freshness of the voices and of the footage. So we are sharing them with you, saluting the generosity of Veer Vikram, who recorded these and uploaded them on to Youtube for everyone to enjoy. May there be many long nights of joy, music, dancing and poetry – in campuses, factories and neighborhoods – everywhere  Think so what a beautiful sight a ‘vishaal jan jagaran’ (as distinct from a ‘bhagawati’ jagaran) can make in different corners of Delhi, and in every city and town where young people can no longer take the rubbish offered by TV channels and the Modi regime. The revolution will be danced, sang, dreamt, recorded, uploaded, downloaded, shared and enjoyed. No more words necessary ]

Another patriotic song to counter ‘Mere desh ki dharti’

Justice Pratibha Rani began her bail order on Kanhaiya Kumar with the patriotic song “Mere desh ki dharti”, an upbeat celebration of the beautiful land that yields gold and pearls. Her judgement was emotional about the soldiers who give their lives so that the rest of us can be safe.

Here is another sort of patriotic song from another Hindi film, which Justice Pratibha Rani might connect to. This haunting song about the futility of war also goes out to all those who say it is insulting to the armed forces to raise our voices against widespread militarization of the Indian subcontinent.

The refrain of the song is – “Ask the departing solider, where do you go?” It talks about death and destruction, of weeping women and hungry children. The poet is Makhdoom Mohiuddin (a communist and a Muslim – anti-national on two counts). Whose wars do these men fight?

Would we all be safer, including our soldiers, if the elites of neighbouring countries and a global military industrial complex did not have immense stakes in keeping tensions running high?

A Conversation about the Meaning of the word ‘Azadi’ (‘Freedom’) in the Wake of Events at JNU

Signal to Noise Ratio

There has been a lot of talk about what exactly ‘Azadi’ (freedom) means, especially in the wake of Kanhaiya Kumar’s post release midnight speech at JNU on the 4th of March. So lets talk some more. No harm talking. If there is noise, there must also be a signal, somewhere.

Kanhaiya Kumar clarified in his electrifying, riveting speech that his evocation of Azadi was a call for freedom ‘in’ India, not a demand, or even an endorsement of a demand for freedom ‘from’ India.

This may come as a sigh of relief to some, – Kanhaiya , the man of the moment, proves his ‘good’ patriotic credentials, leading to an airing of the by now familiar ‘good nationalist vs. bad nationalist’ trope. And everyone on television loves a nationalist, some love a good nationalist even more.

Perhaps this was a way of dealing with a bail order that was at the same time a gag order.

[ P.S. : Since writing this last night, a more careful reading of the bail order has suggested to me that the actual terms of bail are not so bad after all. Bail is in fact granted, as far as I can see, fairly unconditionally. Kanhaiya is not asked, for instance, to step down from his position in the students’ union, nor are restrictions placed on his movement and activity. So in technically legal sense, the bail provisions need not be interpreted in a tightly restricted manner. The egregious political hortations, the references to infection, antibiotics, amputation and gangrene, which are over and above the legal instructions, are indeed terrible, but operationally, they have no executive authority backing them.]

But to say just that the text of the bail order is what shaped Kanhaiya’s midnight speech would be ungenerous, and miserly, especially in response to the palpably real passion that someone like Kanhaiya has for a better world, and for a better future for the country he lives and believes in. I have no doubt about the fact that coming as he does from the most moderate section of the Indian Left (the CPI – well known for their long term affection for the ‘national bourgeoisie’ despite the national bourgeouisie’s long term indifference/indulgence towards them), Kanhaiya is a genuine populist nationalist patriot [I have corrected ‘nationalist’ to ‘patriot’ here in response to the criticism and suggestion held out by Virat Mehta’s comment – see below in the comments section] and a democrat moulded as he says, equally by Bhagat Singh and Dr. Ambedkar. There is a lot to admire in that vision, even in partial disagreement. And while some may not necessarily share his nationalism, this does not mean that one has to treat it with contempt either. I certainly don’t.

Continue reading A Conversation about the Meaning of the word ‘Azadi’ (‘Freedom’) in the Wake of Events at JNU

‘Feeling Seditious’: March on Parliament to #StandwithJNU

For the third time within a span of two weeks since the middle of February, thousands of people came out on the streets of Delhi to express their solidarity with the detained students of JNU (Kanhaiya Kumar, Umar Khalid and Anirban) and to voice their anger with the venal Modi regime.

Protest demonstrations (at least in northern India) tend to have something of the monotonous in them, the same cadence, the same rhythm and the same wailing, complaining tone. They tend to have an air of events staged by the defeated, for the defeated. But if we take the last three big protests in the city, and the many gatherings in JNU in the last two weeks or so,  as any indicator of what the pulse of our time is, we will have to agree that there has been a qualitative transformation in the language, vocabulary and  affect of protests. This afternoon, like the afternoon of the 18th (the first big JNU solidarity march), and of the 23rd of February (the Justice for Rohith Vemula March), was as much about the joy of togetherness and friendship as it was about rage and anger.

Continue reading ‘Feeling Seditious’: March on Parliament to #StandwithJNU

Bahujan Discourse Puts JNU In The Crosshairs: Pramod Ranjan

PRAMOD RANJAN writes in Forward Press

It is essential to find out how this university, created in 1966 by a special Act of Parliament, became a leftist bastion. The answer lies in its unique reservation system. In this university, from the very outset, aspirants from backward districts, women and other weaker sections were given preference in enrolment. Kashmiri migrants and wards and widows of defence personnel killed in action also get preference (see box). The nature of the questions in the admission tests of the university is such that only the ability to answer multiple-choice questions related to one’s discipline is not enough to see one through. Only those students who have, apart from command over their own subject, analytical skills and reasoning power get admission here. The undergraduate courses of foreign languages are an exception in this regard. But even here, once they have a bachelor’s degree, they can join an MA or an MPhil course only if they have the aforementioned skills. Thus, for years, JNU has been home to the finest and most fertile minds from economically and socially deprived sections of society. And when they analyze the hows and whys of their socio-economic background, they get drawn to Marxism.

This fully residential university, spread over 1000 acres and nestled in the lush green Aravalli Range, never attracted the elite class. The hostels serve plain food and residents drink from jugs – instead of glasses. Estimates suggest that at least 70 per cent students of the university come from either poor or lower-middle-class families…

After the enrolments last year, the percentage of students in JNU from SC, ST and OBC has gone up to 55. A large number of Muslims are enrolled in Arabic, Persian and other language courses in JNU. Data on them is not available. But if, along with them, the number of Ashraf Muslims and other minorities is added, it can be safely presumed that at least 70 per cent of the students in the university are non-Dwij. Note that the number of OBC students in JNU has gone from 288 in 2006 to 2434 in 2015, ie a tenfold increase in nine years. The number of women students has also gone up substantially (see chart)…

This article also points out uncanny similarities between the police report of February 2016 on the controversial cultural event at JNU  and a Panchjanya editorial of 2015.

Read the rest of the article here.

 

JNUSU Statement of Thanks for Global Support and Call for International Day of Protest and Action in Solidarity with Students in India on 2nd March 2016 : Shehla & Rama Naga (JNUSU)

Guest Post by Shehla (Vice-President, JNUSU) and Rama Naga (General Secretary, JNUSU)

To all Friends (in Delhi, India and the World) who have Supported the Struggle of JNU students and students elsewhere in India  in the past few weeks.

Thank you for your message of solidarity. In this hour of unprecedented attack on us, what has been a source of great strength are messages like these, which we have pasted all over the Administration Building. We have not been able to respond to each message because of being extremely overburdened. However, we are writing back today, in order to update you regarding the status of the struggle, and with a call to action on the 2nd of March, 2016 in your city.

Call for Global Day of Protest and March to Parliament for JNU - March 2nd, 2016
Call for Global Day of Protest and March to Parliament for JNU – March 2nd, 2016

Continue reading JNUSU Statement of Thanks for Global Support and Call for International Day of Protest and Action in Solidarity with Students in India on 2nd March 2016 : Shehla & Rama Naga (JNUSU)

Statement by JNU Faculty on Bar Council of India Report on Patiala House events of February 15 and 17, 2016.

In a shockingly partisan statement that blatantly misrepresents events, the Bar Council of India has issued a report that justifies the well documented attacks by a mob of lawyers on JNU students, teachers and media at Patiala House Courts over two days (February 15 and 17, 2016) as ‘a reaction to the incidents, which are grave in nature and very dangerous for the country’. BCI Joint Secretary Ashok Kumar Pandey claimed that a large number of JNU teachers and students and others had arrived at the court in three to four buses and raised slogans and used ‘provocative words’. This led to the untoward incident in which ‘both the sides took part,’ said the report, adding that ‘any true citizen or a lawyer of India’ was supposed to react strongly to the ‘anti-India’ slogans.

We, the undersigned faculty members of Jawaharlal Nehru University, wish to set the record straight. Nine of us reached Patiala House Court No 4 between 1 and 1.15 pm on 15th February 2016 to attend the hearing on Kanhaiya Kumar’s bail plea. The sole objective of our presence there was that when Kanhaiya Kumar was produced he would see the faces of his teachers in the courtroom. At that time, a few students and other teachers of JNU, and some members of CPI, the parent organization of Kanhaiya’s student group, were already waiting silently outside, similarly wanting him to see friendly and familiar faces when he was produced. There were about 15 to 20 of them, hardly enough to fill 4 cars, let alone one bus.

Continue reading Statement by JNU Faculty on Bar Council of India Report on Patiala House events of February 15 and 17, 2016.

Petition to stop the global crackdown on academic freedom – Turkey, India, Egypt

The undersigned are university teachers and students concerned over recent events that point to a serious reversal of gains in democracy and academic freedom achieved over the last decades in many countries.

Three cases have been most prominent in that regard since the beginning of 2016: the crackdown by Turkish authorities on the more than 1200 signatories in Turkey of the petition by “Academics for Peace” criticizing the anti-Kurdish war drive launched by the Turkish government; the crackdown by Indian authorities on students involved in a non-violent campus protest against the death penalty at Jawaharlal Nehru University and Hyderabad University; and in Egypt an attempt to shoot and kill a professor by groups affiliated to the ruling party; and the savage torture and assassination in Cairo of Italian research student Giulio Regeni.

When they are not tacitly approving it, governments of countries where academic freedoms are better respected and which include most global powers have turned a blind eye and a deaf ear to calls on them to protest against this repression. The worst attitude has been displayed in Italy where the government kept stressing the importance of its economic ties with Egypt while a gutter press accused Giulio Regeni’s supervisors of letting him gather dangerous information, thus resorting to an old worn-out paranoid argument of all dictatorships and tacitly making the student himself responsible for his own atrocious death.

Academic freedoms are a key indicator of the overall status of political freedom and democracy. The acceleration of privatisation across the public higher education system is undermining these freedoms on a global scale. The events described above point to a much deeper and sweeping onslaught on democratic freedoms, which must be halted immediately lest it leads to increasingly tragic events and a most nefarious consolidation and extension of the authoritarian turn in global politics.

We call on the global community of teachers and students to join us in protesting against this most dangerous trend by signing, translating and circulating this statement, and organizing protest meetings in all universities.

To sign, please go to this link.