Friday, February 19, 2016

JNU oh JNU..

Whatever is happening in India after that controversial protest at Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) has raised many questions in minds of people like me. This incident exposed deep rooted hypocrisy in minds of people belonging to both camps. I wonder why Baba Ramdev was not allowed to speak at JNU but shouting anti-India slogans are considered as right of freedom of expression? I also wonder why a trivial student protest is treated like some sort of terrorist attack by Indian government? Questions are many but I don't think there is anyone who is looking for answers, but most of them are busy in delivering judgments and it is really sad to see sense and sensibility being murdered like this. It also exposed once again inability (or I must say lack of desire) of government to control mob violence and encourage the tendency to deliver mob justice whenever this type of behavior suits them. Let me first clarify that, I am not in any way sympathetic with any so called leftist ideology and not associated with any political party or ideology so I have no interest in justifying any side's behavior in this case. What was supposed to be a student agitation rally has now turned in to a full blown national crises. It seems everyone is trying to judge other person's nationalism or patriotism using their own prism. 

Student life is and should be full of many interesting things. We go through many phases during our student life, passion towards certain issues and causes is integral part of it. People are prone to take risks at that age. As a student I myself also went through these phases. At that age many times we are very angry about so many things which we feel are wrong or unjust but have no idea about the reasons behind those things. This happens in a country like India specially if you come from under privileged background. I was angry about so many things and I didn't know whom to blame, I am sure this is still the case with many students. Students at that age already have highly impressionable mind when you add to it lot of anger and unrest, there are very high chances of malcontent behavior. During that age we easily get attracted towards rebellious behavior. Lack of patience and maturity can result in very immature or even foolish acts which we often misinterpret as rebellious or brave acts at that age. Therefore forceful and bitter attack on government or rival political group or ideology is not something unusual at that age. Anger about state, religion or any other establishment is also not unusual. These type of things used to happen in past also but because of internet and mobile video devises we all can see these things now. Off course there can not be any logical explanation offered for this but any sensible person should understand reasons behind this indignant behavior, we can only blame it on ignorance or immaturity or plain stupidity. But the question I am raising is not about behavior of some students who acted foolishly, as it was no surprise to me but the way government, media and public responded to that immature or foolish behavior by more immature or foolish actions. 

I am a supporter of complete freedom of expression, except in case of direct incitement of violence against anyone, which I guess is a punishable crime in many countries. I support right of any person to express their feelings or opinions freely. I may or may not agree with what they say but I can not take away their right to express those things. I have right to agree or disagree with anyone, I have right to oppose or support their argument but I have no right to declare any one anti-national or traitor, it is for courts to decide who is criminal and who is innocent. It is amazing to see how various political outfits define 'nationalism' in very narrow way, specially in a way which suits their own ideology. Not only they define nationalism or patriotism as per their own convenience they also start handing out certificates of these things to people. Both major political parties of India, Congress and BJP are guilty of this type of behavior. It is also sad to see that this drama of sedition, nationalism and patriotism is being played on many national news channels from last few days. During most of debates someone is branded as anti-national, news anchors are behaving as if they are sacrosanct judges and jury who are running some criminal trial. It is pathetic display of jingoism and hooliganism at the same time in name of journalism. In any democratic society expressing dissent in a peaceful way should not be considered as a crime, actually it should be allowed and right to express dissent should be protected. Any attempt to suppress any peaceful dissent is bound to create more disturbance, no matter how misguided that dissent was and how well intended the action to suppress is. I wonder how and why current Indian government committed this totally avoided mistake.  

Arrest of JNU student leader was definitely a mistake, I think they have to release him ultimately but sadly this will not happen without lot of political drama and chaos. There are so many other pertinent and serious problems which need urgent attention from government and citizens of India but sadly they are busy in focusing on wrong issues. It is really distressing to see that so much energy and resources are being wasted to deal with such trivial issues. Politics should be played and there is nothing wrong in having bitter political rivalries but to take any political fight to such a low a level is really pathetic. It is really disturbing to watch television debates and the kind of language used by some anchors and participants. It is also shocking to see that kind of aggression and violent behavior displayed in premises of court where even sentenced criminals are also supposed to be treated with dignity. I hope some sense will prevail in both sides and they will stop all this drama.

JNU oh JNU I hope you forget this painful episode and get back to your normal routine. I hope educational institutes behave and remain like educational institutes. I hope they don't become political battle grounds of various political parties to propagate their ideology at the cost of healthy debate and logical discussions. I hope we all try to listen and understand each other rather than judge and punish. I hope we apply same rules to everyone and don't behave like hypocrites. I hope people stop perversion of terms like nationalism and patriotism. I hope media behaves like media and not like mouthpiece of some political party or ideology. I hope both the sides realize their mistakes and try to correct them rather than playing blame game, and I also hope that I am not expecting too much from people and government of my country.

Thanks for reading and please share your views on this topic.

[Copyright : Vinay Thakur. Please contact the author for re-posting or publishing]

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