ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Targeting Institutions of Higher Education

Fear of the Intellectual

Targeting Institutions of Higher Education

The ideology central to the Bharatiya Janata Party-Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh has no space or use for liberal thought and values. Education for such organisations means only what can be called a kind of catechism. This is a memorisation of a narrow set of questions rooted in faith and belief and an equally narrow set of answers that prohibit any doubt or deviation. Therefore, educational centres that allow questioning and discussion are anathema and have to be dismantled.

Recent events at the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) raise many questions pertinent to us as citizens of India. The questions have become imperative because it is apparent that many who govern us have little sensitivity to understanding the fundamental issues crucial to governance. For example, what are the necessary aspects of a democratic system, or how essential are the centrality of equality and human rights as components of democracy to be taught and nurtured in educational institutions? Every articulation of thought and action is judged these days by its immediate political implications and seldom by the wider context of ethics, society and the citizen.

A recent example was a proposed discussion on capital punishment to be held on the anniversary of the hanging of Afzal Guru, where a handful of students gathered on the JNU campus to discuss it, and were joined by some others who it seems were from outside the university. Slogans took over in a confused fashion, as happens in such situations, and the serious issue of capital punishment was lost. The confusion was confounded by the discovery later that some of videos of the slogans were faked.

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