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Letter To JNU Students

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Dear fellow JNUites

I am writing with a heavy heart and utmost disappointment in the so-called protective and security agencies of our country. More than that, I am most disappointed in the current political regime ruling our country, which has reduced us to nothing but some individuals with ulterior political motives. It has been thoroughly incapable of judging the implications of a policy that will destroy the educational and life prospects of the current and future generations. I am deeply hurt and anguished by the treatment meted by these agencies to students, peacefully fighting for their right to education in a massively unequal India, demanding their right for equality of opportunity in education, career and life, for self-determination and freedom of speech. Reducing them to some criminals trying to destabilise the fabric of our society is an utter shame. Have we become so deeply entrenched in our false propaganda that we have stopped differentiating between right and wrong? Has our country become so gripped into the hands of fascists and capitalists that it has been reduced to profit-making machinery for the richest one per cent? Has the right to demand a good life become a prerogative of the rich? Have the poor no share in the nation’s development, being reduced only to flesh and meat that exists to merely serve the needs and whims of the ruling class, a voting political zombie?

The arrangement of Delhi police in a 2:1 ratio against the students reminded me of the massacre of the peacefully protesting students in the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests in China, the military suppressing the movement with sheer might, through guns and tanks. I realised today that the current regime is prepared to go to any extent for the realisation of its vision of the India that favours a certain religion, caste and class of the society. It has become evident that we are a mere nuisance to the political regime, which may better be destroyed than be entertained to gain political legitimacy. To them, the country is better off without a class of people that dares to challenge them on every step of the way rather than dealing with them in a way that solves the larger problems of the country.

But along with this, I am also deeply disappointed in the political movements and parties of our university, which have left no stones unturned in being visually stimulating in terms of their presence in the protests. If the banners with their brands were not enough, they came proudly wearing badges of their political and ideological affiliations, symbolically shouting out loud that their affiliations were more sacred and important than the larger student community and its concerns. What has concerned me more now is that we have dis-incentivized political innovation and incentivized political institutionalization which is bound to lead to a slow death of the creative and intellectual tradition of this university. The lack of ideas, vision, imagination and willpower within the leadership, to fight their basal political instincts of prioritizing their political career than the necessities of the student community as a whole has led me to believe that a challenge to the status quo is needed within the university as is required outside it. The agency of self-determination and resistance should be decentralized to some extent and redistributed to the other wheels of a creative, dynamic and evolving resistance of which political speeches and slogans are but one part. We have to realise that the current politico-cultural space in JNU has incentivised the leadership of a certain kind of people with some visible qualities that we, not surprisingly, find in our national politicians. These qualities are the submission of the will to one’s political masters and good delivery in speech. Vision, flexibility, modesty, innovation, among others have become redundant as a necessity for good leadership. Propaganda and fake news have become more important than truth and facts. The short term benefits of gaining legitimacy in leadership are leading to the destruction of the positive space of this university. This does not mean that I do not recognize the contribution and necessity of a student council but is indicative of my observation of the limitations that the political parties and their modus operandi have put to the intellectual space in this council of the university.

We should also realise that the current movement is not entirely in control of the Student Council, having a life force of its own which is derived from the immediacy of the problem and its impact on students from all sections of the society. We see people gathering not because the council calls them but because these students understand what is at stake if they do not gather and resist. If the council and, within it, individually acting political players want to protect the space that was produced by our former and current teachers and seniors, they need to promote individual innovation and creativity as an added pillar of the movement and student polity. We have to stop functioning as a ‘State’ which we so willfully criticise and assume a mode of functioning that necessitates dynamism in thought, identity, activity and culture. What is really required is to make JNU uncomfortable again in the kind of discussions that are vital for the holistic functioning of a university’s intellectual, political and cultural space.

Your fellow JNuite

Ali Javed

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