OPINION

Monthly Archives: MARCH 2016


BJP Got It Wrong on ‘Bharat Mata’ Issue : Experts
26.03.16 - BY GAURAV VIVEK BHATNAGAR
BJP Got It Wrong on ‘Bharat Mata’ Issue : Experts



Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s assertion at the national executive meet of the Bharatiya Janata Party that all leaders should only focus on and speak about issues of "vikas, vikas and vikas” (development, development and development) appears to have been nullified by the political resolution of the meeting itself.
In keeping with the BJP’s decision to play the ‘nationalism’ card by hyping the importance of the slogan ‘Bharat mata ki jai’ (‘Victory to Mother India’), the resolution said: "Our constitution describes India as Bharat also, refusal to chant victory to Bharat is tantamount to disrespect to our constitution itself.” But this assertion of the party, according to constitutional experts, is itself against the spirit of the constitution. 
 
In an article last week, ‘Nationalism Can’t be Manufactured by Reciting Verses’, Soli Sorabjee  – who was attorney general when the BJP-led NDA was last in power – noted how the Supreme Court in Bijoe Emmanuel v. State of Kerala had upheld the right of students belonging to the sect of Jehovah’s Witnesses to  not sing the national anthem whilst standing respectfully when it was sung. "That judgment was a clear endorsement of tolerance,” he wrote. 

 Authoring the landmark 1986 judgment, Justice O. Chinnappa Reddy had noted: "Our tradition teachers tolerance; our philosophy preaches tolerance; our Constitution practices tolerance; let us not dilute it.”

All the constitutional experts The Wire spoke too suggested the ruling party missed the point.

Senior advocate Aryama Sundaram, said the BJP resolution took an erroneous position on the Constitution. "I think it is completely wrong.” 

Making a reference to the same Supreme Court case, he said the Kerala students had been rusticated because they refused to sing the national anthem on they ground that they belonged to a religious group known as the Jehovah’s Witnesses and this group only sung in praise of the Lord and would not sing any other song. "So the students were willing to stand up but did not want to sing the national anthem. As such they were dismissed from the school. The case came up in the Supreme Court and it reversed the expulsion.”

In doing so, he said, the Supreme Court laid down that "tolerance runs like a thread through the constitution of India and it said that so long that they did not disrespect the flag or the country, it did not make it in any way a disrespect to the flag or the nation.”
 
So, in the present context, he said, "if a person does not otherwise disrespect the country but says I will not chant something – not chanting it does not make it a case of disrespect at all.  It is open to him to chant what he wants or not chant something, but it is not open for him to disrespect the country. So not chanting something does not amount to an act of disrespect. I cannot agree that not chanting Bharat mata will amount to disrespecting the country under the constitution.”

 On the controversy around the chanting of ‘Bharat mata ki jai’, Sundaram said, "I see all this as creating a polarisation which is completely unnecessary. I also believe that if someone disrespects the nation or the flag then action should be taken because you can’t disrespect either. But I cannot see what is being done right now as curbing any such disrespect. According to me such actions will only end up in hardening the polarisation which could take place.”

The controversy began after RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat said the younger generation needed to be taught to patriotism by saying the slogan ‘Bharat mata ki jai’ slogan with pride.

To this, three-time MP and All India Majlis-e-Ittehad-ul Muslimeen (AIMIM) leader Asaduddin Owaisi  said no one could make him say the slogan. The barrister-turned-politician insisted that nowhere in the constitution was it written that a citizen can be made to say it.

The reverberations of this controversy were felt inside the Maharashtra assembly last week where AIMIM MLA Waris Pathan, also an advocate, was suspended for the entire budget session after he declared that he would say "Jai Hind” (‘Long live India’) but not ‘Bharat mata ki jai’.
 
 According to senior advocate Kamini Jaiswal, "the constitution nowhere requires people to say ‘Bharat mata ki jai, nowhere does it talk about it. [The BJP resolution] is a very wrong interpretation. The constitution just says ‘India. which is Bharat’. It doesn’t talk of Bharat mata. So, it is not a fundamental duty of every citizen of the nation to say such a slogan.”

"We all love and respect our nation,” she said, "but we don’t have to carry it on our sleeve.”

Asked how she saw the BJP’s resolution and recent incidents surrounding the controversy, she said: "They have now unnecessarily created a rift among the people. They are going to create what nobody wants. They will start dividing people over issues. These are issues which should not be raked up at all.”

She also insisted that the decision of the Maharashtra assembly to suspend Pathan was "an absolutely wrong decision” and suggested that "someone should challenge it.”

 Senior Mumbai-based advocate Abdul Majeed Memon believes both the extreme views – those of the BJP and RSS on the one hand and of the AIMIM on the other – are wrong.

"I think both RSS and BJP are only playing politics over this issue. For me, this chanting of ‘Bharat mata ki jai’ is a non issue. What is the harm in chanting it? I believe that Waris Pathan’s suspension from the assembly was an overreaction but I had told Pathan also in a television debate that he should have ideally said that he believes there is nothing wrong in chanting ‘Bharat mata ki jai’ but he would not do it at the instance of the BJP or RSS. The matter would have ended there.”
 
Political expediency, however, demands tough posturing and Memon said parties are taking extreme positions because they want to play politics over emotive issues. "I would like to remind everyone that AIMIM does not represent the entire Muslim community and so we should not let their actions vitiate the atmosphere.”

"I also believe that the issue is unnecessarily being raked up. Now I read that a cleric in Hyderabad has objected to ‘Bharat mata ki jai’. They did not have a problem with it for the past 60 years. Even now they are okay with Bharat or jai, but have issues with saying mata or mother. What is wrong with the concept of motherland now? Bharat mata is the same as Mother India, but no one had a problem with the award-winning movie by that name which was directed by a Muslim, Mehboob Khan, and in which Nargis Dutt, another Muslim, played the lead protagonist.”

The real issue, he said, is ‘’Muslims have grown tired of proving their loyalty and nationalism time and again. They do not need certificates from the RSS or BJP for that.’’

Another senior Supreme Court advocate, Raju Ramachandran, said that when in the Jehovah’s Witnesses case not singing the national anthem was considered permissible and the decision to dismiss the students was struck down how can refusal to chant a slogan – on the demand of someone –amount to disrespecting the Constitution.

Senior advocate Dushyant Dave said it is unfortunate that the BJP mentioned the issue in this manner in its resolution. "I have great regard for Arun Jaitley as a lawyer. At least he should have tried to prevent this wrong interpretation of the constitution in the party resolution.”
 
(Courtesy : thewire.in)
 





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When Hope Runs Dry
17.03.16 - Manohar Singh Gill
When Hope Runs Dry



I joined the Punjab IAS in 1958. In 1960, Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru signed the World Bank-sponsored agreement with Pakistan PM Liaquat Ali Khan to divide the river waters of the old Punjab. East Punjab was allotted 15.2 million acre feet (MAF) and the Ravi, Beas and Sutlej, while West Punjab got the Chenab, Jhelum and Sindhu with about 30 MAF. In our Constitution, water as a subject, along with agriculture, education, etc, belongs to the states. Globally accepted riparian law applies in India too.
 
The 1947 Partition was essentially that of Punjab, with large-scale massacres and a total transfer of population. Sikhs suffered the most. They left their religious shrines and the canal colonies they had developed. Land in East Punjab was sandy and poor, and the Muslim population, mainly artisans, left very little for refugees to occupy. They struggled to make a living.
 
Lahore was lost to us. Nehru started building Chandigarh and the Bhakra Dam to put our shattered Punjab on its feet. He would come regularly to see these "new temples” coming up. In 1955, by an administrative decision of the Centre, eight of Punjab’s 15.2 MAF were given to Rajasthan, which had no legal right to Punjab’s waters. Punjab was left with 7.2 MAF. In 1966, Punjab was trifurcated to create Haryana and a larger Himachal. Both Chandigarh and the Bhakra Dam were taken away and put under Central control. It was even argued that the Ropar and Ferozepur headworks should be taken under Central control. Punjab’s pride and self-esteem took a great knock.
 
Water disputes started. The press portrayed Punjab as a bully. In 1976, the PM, pressured by the defence minister, divided Punjab’s seven MAF between Punjab and Haryana. Punjab, the owner of the river waters, was left with only 3.5 out of 15.2 MAF. In joint Punjab, the Yamuna was the boundary with UP, and it had a right on a share of the waters. Much later, the Yamuna was shared between Haryana, UP and Rajasthan by a sudden secret Delhi decision. Punjab was kept in the dark and ignored. The Rajasthan canal, carrying 10,000 cusecs a day, caused severe waterlogging in Ferozepur and Muktsar. Rajasthan refused to give a penny in compensation. The same waterlogging damage will happen with the Satlej Yamuna link canal (SYL), if built across northern and eastern Punjab.
 
The SYL dispute has a bitter history. A foundation was laid by the PM in 1982 in the face of protests, and work initiated. I think some engineers and labour were shot. Political turmoil began and the work was stopped. The push and pull continues. I spoke twice on this issue in the Rajya Sabha in the last 10 days. The case is so old that I realised most of today’s MPs have no knowledge of the history, and of the wrongs done. Even my opponents came to me in the central hall and wanted briefings.
 
What is the situation today? I was a part of the Punjab Green Revolution starting in 1967-68, and running up to the 1980s. The new Borlaug wheat seeds, supported by chemical fertilisers and lots of water, made production jump. By the time I left Punjab in 1988, we had 12 lakh shallow tubewells built with cooperative loans. More than half of the irrigation was done by tubewells and not canals. Today, there are more than 14 lakh tubewells, and they contribute to 74 per cent of Punjab’s irrigation. People think we live off the canals. Not so. Due to heavy pumping of groundwater, of Punjab’s 144 development blocks, only 23 pump out adequate water now. The rest are all in the dark and grey areas, of serious concern. In the 1960s, our tubewells were at a depth of 100 feet or less. Today, well-to-do farmers who can afford the expense are putting submersible pumps at a depth of 300-400 feet. But this is drying out the shallow tubewells of poor farmers in a large radius. This will lead to conflict. Since about 1978-79, Punjab has been giving free electricity to farmers, big and small. By this senseless act, the state government is actually subsidising the wheat/ rice that goes into the central pool to feed the rest of India at the cost of Punjab. The Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices does not compensate the state in any way. For long years, Punjab prided itself on making the country independent of American begging. President Lyndon Johnson’s remarks to PM Indira Gandhi are well-known.
 
In the recent past, grain production has come up in many states. I read with great sadness when Sharad Pawar, the UPA agriculture minister, said in Chandigarh, words to the effect that Punjab better look to alternative crops, as the Centre no longer needed its grain.
 
Apart from production elsewhere, they had the newfound arrogance of the foreign exchange surplus that had been built up. They could import, having the dollars. As the development commissioner, I had sat in a meeting with the Planning Commission’s agriculture member in Chandigarh, when he chided us for wanting to grow cotton in the south, as it gave the farmer better income. He more or less directed us not to do so, but grow grain as this was Delhi’s priority.
 
In 1992-93, as the agriculture secretary of India, I gave an address in Punjab Agriculture University, where I said I did not agree that Punjab was a great agricultural state, as our local politicians used to tom-tom. I said "Punjab is only a grain-growing factory. Factories can have a lockout, and Punjab could be facing one”. Now that time has come, and we don’t know which way to go. We have a nominal share in our own rivers. Rajasthan really has the lion’s share of Punjab’s waters, much of which it wastes. Unlike other states, Punjab has no minerals, or heavy or other industry, due to many reasons. Our farmers’ average holding is less than two acres. Off the land, there is hardly any employment. The armed forces overlook Punjab boys. So what is the future hope for Punjab?
 
With little knowledge, people drum the formula, "obey the court”. I have said in the Rajya Sabha that it would be dangerous to think court orders can solve the issue. We see this situation in all the southern states. In this century, water will be a growing crisis in the world and India. Think calmly and think hard.
 
The writer, a Congress Rajya Sabha MP, is a former development commissioner, Punjab, and Union agriculture secretary
(Courtesy : The Indian Express)




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Archaic Charge - The offence of sedition is a relic of the colonial era.
12.03.16 - a g noorani
Archaic Charge - The offence of sedition is a relic of the colonial era.



The government of India and some states have been instituting cases of sedition against their political opponents with frenzy. Attempts to muzzle the voice of the opposition by recourse to an antiquated colonial law are obscene.
 
The National Crime Records Bureau stated in a report that in 2014, 76 cases were registered all across the country for "offences against the state”. Of them, 47 were for sedition. The rake’s progress continued.
 
Last month, the Delhi Police filed cases of sedition against the president of the Jawaharlal Nehru University in Delhi, Kanhaiya Kumar, and Prof Syed Abdul Rehman Geelani allegedly for raising "anti-India” slogans at a function to mark the hanging of Afzal Guru, in 2014, on the charge of being a member of a conspiracy to attack Parliament House. Geelani was acquitted by the Supreme Court in that case.
 
Like this writer, not a few believe that Afzal Guru was innocent, had been framed and had not received a fair trial. Recently a former Union home minister, P. Chidambaram, also voiced his doubts on that murky episode.
 
Both, Kanhaiya Kumar and Prof Geelani spoke on Feb 10; the former at his university where he went on record to denounce some unidentified people who raised truly unacceptable solutions while Geelani, a Kashmiri, spoke at the press club.
 
The Delhi Police acts at the behest of the central government headed by Narendra Modi; not under Delhi’s Aam Aadmi Party headed by Arvind Kejriwal.
 
It was rash of the home minister of the central government, Rajnath Singh to denounce people who participated in the events of Feb 10. Three TV channels doctored the videos of the proceedings while some TV anchors, true to form, tried to stir up feelings against Kanhaiya Kumar and Prof Geelani. Both were arrested and put in prison.
 
What the BJP government failed to anticipate was that its ham-fisted approach would serve only to arouse popular feelings against the very weapon it had been deploying — the offence of sedition.
 
In recent years, lawyers and human rights activists had pointed out that it was a relic of the colonial era whose shelf life had long expired. The offence of sedition did not figure in the Penal Code as it was originally enacted in 1860. It was inserted by an amendment in 1870 and made even more stringent, in response to a judge’s remarks in 1889.
 
The very language of the definition of the offence of sedition reveals its colonial provenance. Section 124A of the Penal Code penalises "Whoever … brings or attempts to bring into hatred or contempt, or excites or attempts to excite disaffection towards, the government established by law in India”.
 
How is it possible to organise by purely constitutional and peaceful methods a campaign against a government in respect of its policies without diminishing whatever ‘affection’ it enjoys? The same is true of moves in parliament. The notion of ‘disaffection’ is out of place in a democracy. It is rooted in British law which placed a premium on loyalty and affection for the ruling monarch.
 
In the country of its origin the offence of sedition had become obsolete. Media Law a work of encyclopaedic scope and authority by Geoffrey Robertson, QC, one of the foremost counsels in cases of human rights, and a colleague Andrew Nicol, says: "This definition is frighteningly broad and the crime has been used in the past to suppress radical political views. Even in the 20th century it was used against an Indian nationalist and against communist organisers. … There has been no prosecution for sedition since 1947, and the offence now serves no purpose in the criminal law.”
 
In 2009, the Coroners and Justice Act abolished the offence of sedition. The then justice minister Claire Ward, said at the time of the act’s enactment: "Sedition and seditious and defamatory libel are arcane offences from a bygone era when freedom of expression wasn’t seen as the right it is today.
 
"Freedom of speech is now seen as the touchstone of democracy and the ability of individuals to criticise the state is crucial to maintaining freedom.” Britain’s Law Commission had recommended the abolition of then law of sedition in 1977.
 
She remarked, "The existence of these obsolete offences in this country had been used by other countries as justification for the retention of similar laws which have been actively used to suppress political dissent and restrict press freedom.”
 
This caused not even a ripple on the placid lake of the Indian establishment. It relies on a Supreme Court ruling of 1962 which upheld the validity of sedition, relying copiously on English law — now repealed.
 
Sedition was attacked furiously by every leader of eminence in the freedom movement. Political differences do not diminish the admiration which Quaid-i-Azam’s successful defence of Tilak, on a charge of sedition in 1916, a century ago still evokes in India.
 
The writer is an author and a lawyer based in Mumbai.
 
First published in Dawn.




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Ek Baat Bataaein, Lordship Swatantra Kumar, Head of NGT ji,
10.03.16 - preet k s bedi
Ek Baat Bataaein, Lordship Swatantra Kumar, Head of NGT ji,



Your appetite for humiliation is a private matter between you and your mirror. It concerns us only because you hold a public position and no matter how vacuous your judgements may be, we have to show respect to you.
 
You passed an order against the Art of Living which in simple English acknowledges they have taken no permissions, they are breaking every rule and they will destroy the environment. And then ends up saying all is forgotten, yaar, go ahead and have a ball. Thank god the lady with the scales and a band over her eyes is only a stone structure. Had she been real the band around her eyes would be moist.
 
You asked them to pay 5 cr. Within three hours Sri Sri cocked his snook at you and said jo karna hai kar le, I wont pay. Wonder how as a judge you can accept that. Sir aapki izzat mein hamari izzat hai. We appointed you na.
 
But wait a minute. Your Lordship you are an experienced man. Ek baat bataaein. Have you ever ever heard of any one with influence making a payment for a show after the show is over? What kind of an order did you pass anyway? Who were you fooling? Not him for sure; he responded immediately. Ah so you were fooling us? Theek hai ji we are worth that only. 
 
By the way there was some talk of a fait accompli having been presented to you at the last hour. That’s true. What could you do in the last minute? 
 
Really? Kiski kheenchte hain sir?
 
Remember April 2013? You banned all construction within 10 kms of the Okhla Bird Sanctuary. For those personally affected it was bad news but for others it was like the Return of Bin Tughlaq. Okhla Bird sanctuary? The total number of birds on the tree outside my bedroom window is more than the mythical OBS which hasn’t existed for decades. Not for me to go into your motives but let me tell you what actually happened after you passed the order and went to play your golf.
 
Work came to a standstill on all the projects. Out of the total of 75000 odd flats affected, approx 20,000 were ready for occupation which your cussed order ensured would not get completion certificate. Pensioners, widows and families who had scrounged for years to move into their own houses had to rent accommodation. You made it to many dinner tables I promise you. And you should be thankful that at least a third of our people are vegetarians. 
 
Were those ready-made flats not a fait accompli, your Lordship? In fact they were more ready than the jamboree you have taken responsibility for would be even when it is thrown open. Or was it just a sexy camera moment when you could flash your tough judge credentials?
 
But what happened to the tough judge when Fart of India came before you? Much of the bravado dissipated?
 
You can redeem a bit, not all your izzat, by insisting that Fart of Living pay up or else. If you don't, we will know your toughness is only for those who are helpless.
 
Sorry but Satyamev Jayate. The truth must win.
 
Regards
 
PS. Since Satyamev Jayate I have chosen to stay with the truth and call it Fart of Living. At the Edge of Yamuna. Hope you don’t mind, though yes, its obnoxious




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An Open Letter To Justice Pratibha Rani From An Ex-JNU and Ex-FTII Student
04.03.16 - Mohit Priyadarshi
An Open Letter To Justice Pratibha Rani From An Ex-JNU and Ex-FTII Student



Dear Madam,

Like millions of my fellow citizens, I was eagerly waiting for your interim verdict on the bail application of JNUSU president, Kanhaiya Kumar, who was wrongly framed in a "sedition” case by people in positions of power.

When I received the news that Kanhaiya was granted interim bail for six months by the Delhi High Court, I felt elated, partly because I was relieved at the fact that our judiciary was not yet compromised, and partly because I strongly believe that politically conscious students like Kanhaiya Kumar, Umar Khalid and Anirban Bhattacharya should have the right to organize peaceful events within the premises of a university, without being hounded either by the administration, or their event being vandalized by politically-conspiring elements from without.

In that regard, the release of Kanhaiya from jail reinforced my belief that, no matter how compromised the structures of our current state apparatus, the judiciary works as an autonomous unit within a democracy, one which bases its opinions squarely on facts.

But as ecstatic as I was at the news, I felt particularly disturbed when I read the entire court order. It left me with a lurch in my stomach.

I found the court order hilarious, like many of my friends, but I also found it equally disappointing.

Let me explain why.

Hilarious, because, I did not expect a court order regarding the bail of a student charged of "sedition” to start with a patriotic song from a Bollywood movie. From Upkar, to be precise, starring Manoj Kumar as the fearless, self-effacing "Bharat”. Are we to learn patriotism from Manoj Kumar — seriously?

Is that the level of our political discourse these days? Mere Desh Ki Dharti might be a good song, but are we to expect even courts indulge in jingoistic, needlessly melodramatic rhetoric, and not to talk about facts?

Court orders, as far as I know, are not vehicles for expressing one’s penchant for literature, or music, or even expound on one’s ideas of nationalism. They are meant to be based on evidence.

Why then, after all the furore that Kanhaiya’s case generated in the last fortnight or so, in the face of complete absence of any evidence in the possession of Delhi police against Kanhaiya, after doctored videos were legitimately sourced to a political aide of our MHRD minister and the newsrooms of some media channels, did the court still have to fall in the trap of defining the contours of the case in a reductionist, and absolutely fabricated, "nationalist” vs "anti-nationalist” binary?

Do you also think all people in our country are either "nationalist” or "anti-nationalist”, madam? Will you also leave no space for being grey?

I expected the court order to be driven by rationale, evidence, facts. I expected it to be sparse and precise, not laden with unwarranted hyperbole.

Be that as it may, you were of course fully entitled to make your observations.

But, just when I thought I had the read the worst part of the court order and would somehow swallow it like a bitter pill, I read this:

"While dealing with the bail application of the petitioner, it has to be kept in mind by all concerned that they are enjoying this freedom only because our borders are guarded by our armed and paramilitary forces. Our forces are protecting our frontiers in the most difficult terrain in the world i.e. Siachen Glacier or Rann of Kutch.”

That makes my heart skip a beat, madam.

Do we have nothing better to do than to make our soldiers the pawns every time? First BJP did it, then Arnab Goswami, and now even the courts?

If a soldier is a nation’s ultimate martyr, shouldn’t we all be ashamed for not being stationed, like you say, at the Siachen Glacier or the Rann of Kutch?

Why does the soldier become a distorted prism to validate our own patriotism?

I think such an idea of nationalism is misplaced and dangerous. By its sheer logic, someone who is corrupt can praise soldiers and can be redeemed as a "nationalist”, while somebody who simply questions the state’s decision to position these same soldiers, and getting them killed in a war — sometimes against our own people — will be deemed "anti-national.”

As if that was not enough, you again emphasized the point about our soldiers when you wrote:

"Suffice it to note that such persons enjoy the freedom to raise such slogans in the comfort of University Campus but without realizing that they are in this safe environment because our forces are there at the battle field situated at the highest altitude of the world where even the oxygen is so scarce that those who are shouting anti-national slogans holding posters of Afzal Guru and Maqbool Bhatt close to their chest honoring their martyrdom, may not be even able to withstand those conditions for an hour even.

The kind of slogans raised may have demoralizing effect on the family of those martyrs who returned home in coffin draped in tricolor.”

Being a former student of JNU, I can tell you that holding an event on campus to discuss Kashmir and Afzal Guru’s fate does not mean students are keeping him close to their hearts. It is the ghost of Afzal Guru that haunts them. These are students merely asking pertinent questions about the so-called "trial” meted out to Guru which, in their understanding of the whole case, was not completely just. They are expecting our democracy — and our judiciary — to be accountable and transparent in its decisions. Is that a lot to ask in a democratic country?

Which essentially brings us to the following question: is discussing Kashmir and having an opinion about Kashmir an "anti-national” act in itself?

Because if it is, then it is certainly not a democracy we are living in.

Moreover, not only do you manage to emphatically undermine serious scholars like Kanhaiya Kumar, who have worked through countless obstacles to get the education they deserve, but you undermine the academy — one of the most important institutions of a functioning democracy.

Where will the world’s democracies be if student voices, progressive voices, and radical voices, are stifled with the butt of a surcharged — but nonetheless hollow — political discourse?

To conclude your court order, madam, you wrote the following:

"The investigation in this case is at nascent stage. The thoughts reflected in the slogans raised by some of the students of JNU who organized and participated in that programme cannot be claimed to be protected as fundamental right to freedom of speech and expression. I consider this as a kind of infection from which such students are suffering which needs to be controlled/cured before it becomes an epidemic.

Whenever some infection is spread in a limb, effort is made to cure the same by giving antibiotics orally and if that does not work, by following second line of treatment. Sometimes it may require surgical intervention also. However, if the infection results in infecting the limb to the extent that it becomes gangrene, amputation is the only treatment.”

You claim that the investigation is at a nascent stage, and yet you have managed to draw so many inferences from it at such an early stage?

You have gone so far as to suggest that student activism is an "infection” which needs to be cured before it "becomes an epidemic.”

Without even going into the completely flimsy analogy you draw here, madam, but as a student who has received education from three different public-funded institutions of our country, I would like to contend that student activism is absolutely essential for the well-being of a democracy.

The academy, and its students, do not live and breathe in a vacuum, but are part of a socio-economic landscape that they have every right to question and criticize. A nation of unthinking students and zombie patriots will forever stand in a rut, madam, eternally condemned to stagnation.

If students and teachers in a university do not question the status quo, do not look at alternative methods of alleviating oppression, do not create a space conducive to critical enquiry, then what kind of students do we wish to create?

We certainly do not want a nation full of sheep, madam.

To quote Terry Eagleton, a prominent literary theorist:

"The role of academia should be do challenge status quo in the name of justice, tradition, imagination, human welfare, the free play of the mind or alternative visions of the future. A critical reflection on human values and principles should be central to everything that goes on in universities, not just to the study of Rembrandt or Rimbaud.” 

As a former student of both JNU and FTII, two institutes of higher education which have forever stood as bastions of critical enquiry in our country, and which have recently found themselves becoming the centers of confrontation against the ruling regime, I would like to say that these two institutes have provided me with the courage, and the means, to question, agitate, and finally, contribute in a meaningful way towards the betterment of our people.

You may think I am speaking out of my turn, madam, but please don’t try to kill the student in me.

(The writer of this article is a former JNU and FTII student, a struggling filmmaker, and a blogger who covers politics and cinema in national and international blogs).
 
(Courtesy : India Resists)




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Comment by: Mohammed Ammar Khan

education setup getting down day by day. God bless this country and our education.

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