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Campus Politics stir the Nation

The brouhaha over the JNUites revolves around the role of nationals and anti-nationals – a confusing and chaotic cocktail . In India, campuses have been the most happy hunting ground for political parties to recruit party members. Education takes a backseat with rampant indiscipline encouraged by political parties to gain cheap popularity amongst the students under the mask of protection of students. Campuses were always battlefield of ideologies. Education itself can therefore never be neutral or value free, whatever critics may say. It is also important to understand the political ideologies which underpin recent and current Indian/western worldviews as well as different views of education. This is quite distinct from the idea that we are all different as individuals. Our individual attitudes and opinions reflect wider and deeper political ideologies which we have socially and culturally imbibed from birth onwards. These deeply affect how we see the world and how we ‘make sense’ of society, including education.

The arrest of the student leader of JNU created a havoc in the nation. India’s home minister, Rajnath Singh, tweeted that those who shout “anti-India” slogans and challenge the country’s sovereignty and integrity while living in India “will not be tolerated or spared.” The gathering had been organized to commemorate the 2013 execution of a Kashmiri separatist who was convicted for his role in an attack on India’s Parliament in 2001. Everyone had got some ideology and they thrive on that. A terrorist had his ideology , a saint has his ideology , a student had his ideology and they follow. As per reports Videos are manufactured by a media house , which clearly speaks about unethical journalism. The Society of Professional Journalists lists several pillars of journalism ethics: “seek truth and report it, minimize harm, act independently and be accountable and transparent.” But public opinion polls show a lack of confidence in journalists. There’s really no such thing as the ‘voiceless’. There are only the deliberately silenced, or the preferably unheard. It is a sad era where many journalists are for sale at the moment, ready to lend their pens to the highest bidder. The story presented to the world has, at times, nothing at all to do with the reality on the ground, but it is simply a mosaic of stereotype, hearsay, and babblings from privileged officials who have no understanding of the plight of their people, anywhere in the world. I write this with the depth of understanding of one of those who was voiceless and under the thumb of facing challenges. If there is anything this world needs, it’s an honest breed of journalists/writers/story tellers.

“As a proud Hindu, for me the most distressing thing is that these fanatics claim to act and speak for Hindus. The militant, intolerant and illiterate Hinduism that such forces represent is a blot on the refined, eclectic, tolerant and sophisticated philosophical foundations of Hinduism. Hinduism was and will remain, in its true sense, a dialogic religion. This can be seen in the Upanishads, where even a shishya or pupil had the right to question the guru. Those who are seeking to reduce the grand legacy of Hinduism to intolerant hate and violence would do well to remember that Shankaracharya, arguably one of the world’s greatest philosophers, revived Hinduism in the 8th century AD, not by lynching or killing his opponents or throwing ink on their faces, but by a series of shastrarths or cerebrally persuasive arguments conducted across the length and breadth of Bharat. When those who rule stop listening to the people, one can be sure that “bure din” are ahead. When those in power begin to dismiss anything they don’t like as partisan, motivated, unrepresentative and irrelevant, one can be sure that the spirit of democracy is in danger. When those who run governments begin to believe that the nation should only mirror what they believe is right, the plural and composite fabric of India is in danger. The debate on intolerance will not go away just because the government can organise counter-demonstrations by its loyalists. “ stated by (Author-diplomat Pavan K. Varma is a Rajya Sabha member , in Decaan Chronnicle, Nov 8,2015 )

Each student movement is unique. All such movements share characteristics that transcend borders, making them an ideal phenomenon through which to study geopolitics. Even if we regard the state as the highest level of global policymaking and interaction, these social undercurrents are what move the generations, ideologies and cultural changes that shape the constraints under which states operate. These kinds of movements take a variety of forms, from peaceful demonstrations and strikes to violent insurgencies. They are students means they are intellectually engaged, frequently espousing distinct political beliefs. But to be successful, student movements must galvanize the other areas of civil society. In that regard, they are often a good catalyst for change. When a student movement fails to create change, oftentimes it will join or be subsumed by an existing political movement, acting either as a force that advances change or one that that highlights the continuation of ongoing social trends. It is difficult to gauge the ultimate effect of the protests in JNU . Still, the student activism there reminds me why these subjects of society are well-suited to protest. Political and economic oppression destroyed the faith of the struggling. Social revolution is a specific form of upheaval in the national political and social structure that can emerge from religious and economic motivations.

A nation’s economic and social power is generally a result of what education it propagates —what kind of education are the children getting at home and at institutions? Does it lead to growth and true empowerment, not just monetary, but a balanced empowerment, without the need to resort to addictions or extremist behaviour, or does it only follow routine techniques of dissemination of knowledge and skills? In humanistic education, man’s goal in knowledge is the increasing release from the responsibility of knowledge. But the very essence of humanism is responsibility, and a rebellion against responsibility means a rebellion against the condition of being human, of being the creation which God intended action of education.According to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., “is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. Intelligence plus character—that is the goal of true education. Empowering students to attain the highest standards of academic achievement, public and professional services, personal development, and ethical conduct is our fundamental responsibility.” This goal has also become a source of intellectual, financial, and communal strength for both our institution and partners. Everything that happens during the education years — in class, in dorms, at cafeterias, social events, guest lectures, athletic fields, bookstores, commencement addresses — everything should be aimed at enriching the educational experience, at deepening the engagement of the student with the life of the mind and the body and the spirit.

Finally , Aristole sums, “ Education the mind without educating the heart is no education at all . “Getting to know who I am is the effort of years. Getting to know the world around me is also the effort of years—of education and the skills learned in school. Freedom is self-knowledge, world-knowledge, human-knowledge—it is the truth. “You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:32).

“ Om Sarve Bhawanti Sukhena, sarve santu niramaya , sarve bhadraaani paschaantu, Maa kashcid Dukha Bhaag Bhavet.” ( Meaning – May all become Happy, May all be free from illness, May all see what is auspicious , May No one suffer . Om, Peace , Peace and Peace )

( Author is a Lawyer and freelance writer )

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