Why Nehru would not have taken sides in the JNU debate

We need a political class which stands for the unity and progress of the country, not the one which divides the nation or seeks to silence its citizens. Alas, such a political class died decades ago

Anand Raja | March 15, 2016


#kanhaiya kumar   #gandhi   #nationalism   #supreme court   #sedition   #law   #human rights   #jnu row   #JNU   #jawaharlal nehru university  


Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) has always been a bastion of the left. Decades ago, people in power saw to it that JNU moved on the left beat. Recently, JNU students (and possibly some unidentified outsiders) chanted few slogans in favor of Afzal Guru who was hanged by the state. A furor ensued. Police arrested Kanhaiya Kumar, head of JNU students’ union and slapped sedition case against him.

Two sides have emerged in the debate.

There are people who are in favor of JNU. These include JNU alumni and CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury. He has adopted a matter of fact, non ideological position and has said that the issue should be investigated further into. Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi while addressing JNU students termed the central government as ‘anti national’. There are people who are against JNU. Like Subramanian Swamy, people have called JNU a den of ‘anti nationals’.

So who is right?

The answer to this dilemma can come from the man in whose honour the university was set up. So, would Panditiji (Jawaharlal Nehru) have approved of what happened in JNU or would he have taken sides of the likes of Subramanian Swamy?
Who was Nehru?

Panditji was a nationalist. Among the many ways in which Panditji can be described, it can be said that Panditji led his life for the cause of noble ideas. Among the many ideas that the great man espoused, the first idea was the idea of service. Winning the fight for independence, Panditji said, “It is fitting that at this solemn moment, we take the pledge of service to the nation and her people and the still larger cause of humanity.” While analysing the contribution of Gandhi to Indian psyche, he says in the Discovery of India that Gandhi’s message was simple: ‘Fear Not’.

Panditji encouraged people to aspire to higher ideals. The goal of a university was defined by Panditji in the following way: “Its (University’s) aim is to encourage human race to ever higher goals.” This statement, to be accurate, is a line in the motto of Jawaharlal Nehru University.
Nehru and contemporary JNU

Panditji was a nationalist who loved the nation and its people. Panditji wanted to encourage human love for humanity.

The recent incidents in the JNU do not indicate the existence of a JNU which loves all people of the country or the country itself, as Nehru did. Speaking about the interests of some sections, it succeeds in alienating a large section of the population. JNU students are not concerned about the national good but divide the nation into various groups. JNU, in our times, does not see Indians primarily as citizens but as individuals who belong to various sects. There are various examples which suggest the same.

The very fact that an event was organised to commemorate the death of Afzal Guru (a man with a militant past) indicates that contemporary JNU students’ opinion is not entirely the one with the interests of the country. Commemorating the death of Afzal Guru is in itself a tacit support of militancy. Armed militancy in Kashmir would certainly not have been celebrated by Panditji. We have to note, however, that the slogans which television channels proclaimed were chanted at the occasion, experts say, were doctored. So, we cannot call crackdown on sedition charges on student leader Kanhaiya justified.

There are other pieces of evidence, however, that suggest that JNU students are not nationalists, in the Nehruvian way. A few years ago, the Naxals carried out an armed attack against CRPF in the jungles of Bastar. JNU students danced and sang to celebrate the killing of CRPF men. This indicates that the killing of people in a political conflict is not condemnable to the students of JNU, but praiseworthy. The killing of CRPF men would not have been praised by Jawaharlal Nehru, a man who believed in non-violent changes in the country. Although holding one’s government to account is a civic right, celebrating its overthrow is quite another. Nehru would not have approved the throwing away of a state of which he was the first head in post-independence India.

Nehru’s vision was not limited to a particular caste or a particular creed. Nehru was not the leader of just a fragment of India. He saw all Indians as equals. The university founded in his name does not see all Indians as Indians. Not all citizens of India are the children of one land, one Bharat Mata. A few days after Kanhaiya was arrested, posters figured on the walls of JNU. A vicious caste based agenda which sees the people of India not as one but as a collection of various different castes has come about. The posters said ‘India is a jail of various castes’.

The students of JNU, in an anti-Nehruvian spirit, imply that our nation is not one nation. The nation is divided into various castes which are not linked to each other. Nehru said, in a speech from the Red Fort, that if we privilege our caste or community over nation, nation would fall. The behavior of JNU students show that as far as JNU students are concerned, the nation has fallen!

Nehru and anti-JNU

Nehru would not be a fan of what JNU students are doing. Nehru, however, would not be with those who oppose JNU from the right. To begin with, Nehru would not have been one with those who claim that JNU should be closed on the basis of what JNU students say. Such closure would be anti-democratic. While Panditji would have disagreed with JNU students, he would have fought for freedom of expression for the students. Nehru would certainly have said that ostracising people on the basis of what they say is anti-national. In the same vein, criminalising speech would have been disagreeable to Nehru. He would certainly have been up in arms against Rajnath Singh who said: “Those who speak against the nation would not be forgiven.”

Conclusion
Jawaharlal Nehru loved mankind in a noble and forgiving way. Nehru stood for the unity and integrity of the country and would have certainly differed with a section of students who celebrate those who seek to harm and divide the nation. Neither celebrating the memory of Afzal Guru nor putting up posters which do not hold our Republic in high regard would have pleased Nehru, or those around us. The anti-JNU people, on the other hand, are widely known as fascists today.

If Nehru were to take sides in the JNU debate, he would, for reasons elucidated above, probably not be on either side. We need a political class which stands for the unity and progress of the country, not the one which divides the nation or seeks to silence its citizens. Alas, such a political class died decades ago.
 

Comments

 

Other News

“UP situation extremely bad, govt hiding data”

India is battling the second wave of Covid-19 and infections are spreading into the interiors of the country, says Dr Anurag Bhadouria, National Spokesperson, Samajwadi Party. It is precipitated by the elections in five states, the Kumbh Mela in Haridwar and also panchayat elections in many states, he says

CoWIN to have new security feature from Saturday

The CoWIN system, the overarching digital platform for citizens seeking appointment for the Covid-19 vaccine, is introducing a new four-digit security code” in the application from Saturday to minimise a peculiar error and subsequent inconvenience to citizens. “It has been notic

Learn from Mumbai model to manage oxygen supply: supreme court

Mumbai, once the epicentre of the pandemic in India, has emerged as a model for all others in mitigating the crisis. The supreme court on Wednesday said the central government should adopt and take lessons from the Mumbai model to manage liquid medical oxygen supply for Covid-19 patients in Delhi.

‘What do they know of history who only history know?’

A Functioning Anarchy? Essays For Ramachandra Guha Edited by Srinath Raghavan and Nandini Sundar Penguin Random House India / 392 pages / Rs 650 In a long and versatile career spanning thirty-five years, Ramachandra Guha has prod

BMC commissioner urges Mumbaikars to come forward for testing

To take preventive steps early and save lives, BrihanMumbai municipal corporation (BMC) commissioner Iqbal Singh Chahal has urged citizens to come forward and get themselves tested.   Mumbai has seen a dip in Covid-19 cases in the last few days after an unprecedented increase in cases s

India records over 3 lakh recoveries, fresh cases down

India reported 3,68,147 new cases on Monday, a number lower than the 4 lakh-plus recorded in the weekend. Also, more than 29.16 crore Covid tests were conducted across the country. As many as 29,16,47,037 have been conducted as on date. India’s cumulative recoveries now stand

Masterminds Masterclass with Rajniesh Duggall on Acting & Modeling



Archives

Current Issue

Opinion

Facebook    Twitter    Google Plus    Linkedin    Subscribe Newsletter

Twitter