JNU: The casteist writing on the campus wall – Shishir Tripathi

Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), New Delhi.

Shishir TripathiBehind the perception of JNU being a centre for academic freedom and the free flow of ideas, the truth was laid buried in the fact that JNU was always a laboratory of Left politics and a nursery for the indoctrination of young minds. – Shishir Tripathi

In a country where studying humanities often termed as “arts” is brushed aside with disdain and referred to as the last option for those failing to pursue science and so miserably incompetent to not have been able to get even commerce, Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) gave the study of humanities a respect and a glow of the intellectual glamour.

JNU promoted itself as a university where the free exchange of ideas is encouraged and in public perception established itself as a centre of rigorous research and academic excellence. It promoted itself to be a fertile ground for free thinkers and what Italian Marxist thinker Antonio Gramsci termed “purveyors of consciousness”—the intellectuals.

JNU becomes a natural choice for post-graduation for a large number of students for varied reasons. The negligible amount of tuition and hostel fees, the enthralling expanse of campus in one of the poshest localities of the National Capital, and the instant recognition of being a ‘JNU-ite’, all added up to this pull.

For decades, since its origin in 1969, this image of JNU as a campus for the free exchange of ideas and academic freedom was an intelligently crafted and artfully guarded charade that started getting exposed gradually. The events that unfolded in February 2016, when JNU’s Student Union (JNUSU) president Kanhaiya Kumar was arrested on sedition charges for allegedly raising anti-India slogans lay bare the fault lines that continue to ail JNU campus.

Behind this perception of JNU being a centre for academic freedom and the free flow of ideas, for a long time, the truth was laid buried in the fact that JNU was always a laboratory of Left politics and a nursery for the indoctrination of young minds.

Recently JNU was again in news. A number of walls on the JNU campus were painted with slogans like “Brahmno-Baniyas, we are coming for you! We will avenge”.  As reported by the Hindustan Times, “Go back to Shakha” was written on the wall of the chambers of several Brahmin professors including Nalin Kumar Mohapatra, Raj Yadav, Pravesh Kumar, and Vandana Mishra.

This hatred for “Brahmans” is not something new or spontaneous, rather it is an offshoot of years of institutionalised indoctrination. JNU is a classic case of how young students are brainwashed by vested political interests and how a campus can be used as a laboratory for ideological experiments.

As explained by a professor, the indoctrination is made it two levels—through academia and via JNU’s own popular culture—the ingredients being anti-establishment stance, Marxist lingo, talks of revolution, beats of dafli (tambourine), and kurta-paired with jeans”.

While academic indoctrination takes time, popular culture makes the inroads quickly. A personal anecdote dating from 2006 would be an interesting case in point. After completing graduation many of my batch-mates moved to JNU to pursue post-graduation, while some remained at Delhi University (DU). One of our batch-mates who got admission to JNU organised a get-together at his hostel on the JNU campus.

For many of the new entrants to the world of JNU, it was a mesmerising experience. Late-night sojourns to dhabas on campus and partying at Parthasarathy Rocks were all new for many of us. But what left me perplexed was the suddenness and level of brainwashing the campus does to the newbies.

Over several cups of tea, the conversation drifted towards gender equality and my batch-mate from DU and the newly indoctrinated Leftist started explaining, “Marx and Engels have rightly discovered that monogamy was the result of the emergence of private property. As the concept of private property emerged, monogamy was required as in the case of polygamy ascertaining the paternity would have become impossible. Because a man would want to give his property to his own child, he should be sure of the paternity of his child. And this would be possible only when the woman is bound to a marital relationship that limits her sexual choices to her husband. If we want to ensure true gender equality, both the private property and monogamy should be done away with.”

The “revelation” made by the newly indoctrinated Leftist left everyone amazed and amused. What then looked like rhetorical nonsense by a wannabe intellectual, now makes a lot of sense. The students are indoctrinated to act as a front for bigger ideological warfare from the day they step on the campus. From the anti-India stance to upper-caste hatred that is so ingrained in the JNU narrative, it is all part of an institutional brainwashing by Leftist ideologues masquerading as teachers.

Students are indoctrinated so fast that they cannot explore counter-versions of prevalent narratives. The university which claims to be a bastion of free speech stifles any and every attempt to question the Left narrative.

In his widely acclaimed book titled Eminent Historians: Their Technology, Their Line, Their Fraud, Arun Shourie quotes a JNU teacher, which explains well why students at JNU are so strongly indoctrinated and not allowed to explore other ideologies. Shourie writes that the teacher told him, “A chief characteristic of academic feudalism is that the protege must not be too good. If he is bright enough to overthrow the master, he cannot ever be anyone’s protege.”

In the same book, Shourie highlights the fact that how a group of eminent historians never allowed non-Left ideas and historical research to survive leave alone thrive in JNU.

In February 2022, when Professor Romila Thapar, known for her Marxist historiography was asked to submit her curriculum vitae (CV) so that it can be considered if she can continue as professor emeriti at the university, all hell broke loose. The fact that an 87-year-old history professor had to submit her CV for evaluation did not go well with the JNU’s Left brigade. They were the same set of “accountability and free-speech activists” who readily questions the legitimacy of an elected government to remain in office on every occasion.

The Left lobby in JNU will never want to let go the likes of Romila Thapar as they have been instrumental in strengthening and sustaining the citadel of the Left in JNU. While reconsidering her candidature was an attempt by the government to kick-start institutional reform, the same was seen by the Leftists as a major crack in their fiefdom.

Professor Makarand R. Paranjape of the Centre of English Studies (CES) who single-handedly took on Kanhaiya Kumar for his much-celebrated but factually incorrect speech delivered post his release in 2016, had written an important book titled JNU: Nationalism and India’s Uncivil War, which exposes the sinister scheme of Leftist ideology that has kept JNU its captive for decades.

Professor Paranjape writes, “JNU was dominated by a futile and deluded, not to mention negative and destructive, Leftist student politics, shielded and protected by powerful lobbies. The world may have changed, but JNU was caught in a time warp. Students stayed on for decades, teachers took on more Ph.D. students than they could handle. Some of them had over 20 enrolled under them. The joke was that one of these unfortunates was unable to meet his supervisor for two years, so he began stalking the professor, waiting outside the door of his corridors.”

There are ample instances and proof that anti-India activities in JNU always got the institutional support that turned the campus into the hub of such activities.

On 7 February 1996, Badal Ghana Chakravorty, Associate Professor, Department of German, at Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) wrote a letter to the registrar of JNU with the subject matter: “Rampant anti-national activities of the agents of Pakistan on JNU campus.”

Had the letter been written in the age of social media, it would have created bigger havoc than the arrest of the former JNU student union (JNUSU) president in 2016 created. In the letter, Chakravorty wrote, “The agents of Pakistan have become vigorously assertive on the issue of Kashmir in recent times. The valley of Kashmir, following total physical liquidation of all the non-Muslims, has practically become an all-Muslim territory. This has emboldened the agents of Pakistan on the JNU campus to intensify their vicious campaign for a full-scale secession of Kashmir from India.”

The letter further states, “A seminar was held on 15 November, where a full-throated declaration was made for another partition of India. According to my information, armed terrorists, staying as guests in Aravali and Gomti, were present with arms hidden on their persons. Some terrorists are staying unauthorised in different hostels even today. Kindly press IB into immediate action.”

The letter was part of a dossier that a group of JNU teachers had compiled and submitted to the university administration in 2015. A detailed report on the dossier was published by the Firstpost in 2016.

The 2016 incident was just an addition to many such events, with the only difference being that in the age of social media the voice calling out the wrong-doing cannot be silenced.

Since 2016, JNU has been put under tight scrutiny with several changes being made in its functioning. But the sad truth is that in spite of the current government’s best effort to weed out this indoctrinating lobby from JNU, they still stand strong.

The fact that Left-leaning student groups can dictate the terms ranging from fee structure to the appointment of teachers, makes it evident that the battle of cleansing JNU from Leftist and anti-national parasites is not even half won. To do so institutional rebuilding is required. And, it must start with weeding out Left ideologues who had for decades made the JNU campus a laboratory for their political experiments and the students their guinea pig.

The writing on the wall is not new, it has existed, both literally and metaphorically, for decades. The need is to clean the ideological defacement that ails the JNU campus first. – Firstpost, 6 December 2022

Shishir Tripathi is a journalist and researcher based in Delhi. He writes on law, governance and politics. 

JNU Wall Graffiti

JNU Wall Graffiti