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JNU culture demands indiscipline - Rahul Ramagundam

The Indian Express ()
3 December 1996

Title : JNU culture demands indiscipline
Author : The Indian Express
Publication : Rahul Ramagundam
Date : December 3, 1996

The editorial "Futility of Education: Time to crack the
whip in JNU", (November 20) touched the raw nerves on the
campus, due to its disturbing and dangerous content.
"Because the truth involves us all", reiterates the
punchline of The Indian Express in its propaganda blitz.
This rejoinder is a tribute to its commercial punchline.

First the incident that provoked the editorial. L. K.
Advani, President of the Bharatiya Janata Party, was
invited by the university's Spanish Centre to release a
book by its chairperson. The concerned book dealt with
Spanish-Hindi grammar, a subject which in no way falls
within the ambit of Advani's known expertise. The stud-
ents of JNU took the book release function as a guise to
provide the legitimacy to Advani's politics in the acade-
mia.

What is JNU culture, forcible alteration of which the
editorial demands, by the way? Ask any student of the
JNU what has been his most lasting impression while
studying on the campus? The walls, voice, in unison,
would proclaim. The walls are the first teacher that a
fresher in the JNU learns from. The walls, of academic
and hostel buildings, reflect the concerns that the
students nurture. The posters on the walls identify with
raging emancipatory struggles all over the world. The
students seek solidarity with the oppressed, knowing very
well that they cannot do much.

In the crucible of JNU come students ,from varied back-
ground and from far-flung areas of the country. There is
something incredible about rapid adaptation rate of
students in the JNU. There is something which compels
students to adopt progressive outlook. It is not from the
books, not even from the classroom that one inherits the
"JNU culture". It is there in the progressive, emancipa-
tory breeze that enlivens the campus.

The "market forces", for which the editorial seems almost
like an apologia, needs uninhibited flow of the strait-
jacketed manpower to run its assembly line production and
earn profits thereby. Originality is suppressed with
hostility. Dissent is disapproved as that would derail
the project of techno-capitalism. Modernity with its
resurgence provides legitimacy to certain kind of knowl-
edge.

Techno-capitalism has well-defined two-pronged strategy
to perpetuate itself; a) scientific education leading to
more and more technocrats and managers; b) branding those
branches of knowledge as valuable which have visible role
in technocratisation.

Techno-capitalism began, at least theoretically, with
Marx. Marx while discussing his philosophical materialism
was the first to emphasise the primacy of matter over
mind. Thus techno-communism is as much responsible for
the hierarchisation of knowledge as techno-capitalism.
This disgust over the social sciences is being manifested
all over the world.

JNU, with its free academic atmosphere, with its tradi-
tion of dissent, is a threat to the project of India's
modernist. It is not that the JNU of today is the bas-
tion of Marxist thoughts. The complaint that the "over-
dose of Marxism has made it narrow-minded and stupid"
overemphasises the case. The JNU of present unfortunate-
ly is the pale shadow of its original self. "Market
forces" have taken the toll here too. "Idealism is out.
Individualism is in". Still the JNU is capable of put-
ting a brave face of dissent. It is the only place where
the spanners to stop the chariot of rightist politics are
still manufactured. This limited capability of JNU
perturbs the perpetrators of "one-dimensional society".

If expressing dissent is an act of indiscipline, then JNU
is indiscipline. If nonconformism is an act of indisci-
pline, then JNU is indiscipline. If adopting pamphle-
teering and not trishul is an act of indiscipline, then
JNU is indiscipline. If restraining the destructive
elements of Advani's politics from gaining academic
legitimacy is an act of indiscipline then JNU is indisci-
pline. If progressive and pro-people way of life is an
act of indiscipline, then JNU is indiscipline. If think-
ing right and rational and then acting accordingly is an
act of indiscipline, then JNU is indiscipline.

And we have no regret. Protest is our privilege. That is
"JNU culture". That is the spirit of students. If
adherence to "JNU culture" is an act of indiscipline then
we want to be punished.


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