Five myths about English that all Indians should stop believing right away – Sankrant Sanu

Uma Bharti

Sankrant SanuWe need to provide an equal opportunity to study Indian languages. This will allow deep technology penetration. English cannot be the vehicle for our development, rather it remains the biggest barrier to our progress. – Sankrant Sanu

Recently, Uma Bharti remarked on the need to propagate Indian languages and how English becomes a barrier. Predictably, people on English news portals jumped on her remarks.

Sample a comment on one such portal:

Anonymous Tweet

There are some enduring myths about the English language in India, particularly in association to “progress”, “technology” and “modernity”. As someone who went to an English-medium school in India, I myself subscribed to these myths. It was only when I travelled the world, to over 30 countries, that I realised our assumptions about English are that of frogs in a well.

When I was a manager at Microsoft, I visited my team at the Microsoft development centre in Israel. This was eye-opening. I later spent a summer travelling in Indian villages and I realised the real cost of our assumptions about English. Contrary to the notions I had about English being necessary for science and technology or for India’s progress, I came to realise that India’s English-medium obsession is one of the biggest barriers to India’s development.

Here then are 5 enduring myths about English:

Israel Institute of Technology Students

Myth 1: English is a language spoken by all well-educated, developed, technically-savvy people in the world

There are millions of people in the world who are well-off, well-educated and technically savvy and they don’t speak a word of English. When I was in South Korea, I found it to be an affluent country. However, it was nearly impossible to find someone who spoke English apart from the staff of the luxury hotel I was staying in. In China, I found a tech-savvy population and a proliferation of high-end iPhones. Yet, even at a fancy restaurant in Beijing, I found that not one person—from the wait-staff to the manager—spoke a word of English. I can’t imagine something like this happening in India. The staff at the Chinese restaurant asked me to type my order into their smart phone. They then used the Baidu app to translate it to Chinese.

HSBC Hong Kong

Myth 2: MNCs do all their business in English; English is necessary for an MNC job

MNCs in all major countries operate in the local language. When I was at Microsoft Development Center in Haifa, Israel, I was surprised to find that the language of communication was Hebrew, not English. Emails were in Hebrew, technical documents and discussions were all in Hebrew. This, when the entire population of Israel is less than that of Delhi. Similarly, Samsung, which is one of the biggest electronics manufacturer in the world with cutting-edge technology has a CEO who did his MBA in Korean. Samsung uses Korean in South Korea, uses Thai for office jobs in Thailand, but in India it uses English. MNCs choose to adapt in different countries of the world but in India, we bend backwards assuming MNC means English.

Studying English in India

Myth 3: English is India’s “competitive advantage” and necessary to develop India

This is the most enduring myth—that English has given India a “competitive advantage” in Information Technology. There are highly technically advanced societies, such as Japan, that do not use English. Some years ago I travelled to Indian villages armed with IQ tests. I found, to my surprise, that rural children outscored urban Indian children in IQ. English, as the language of higher and professional education alienates these children. They find math easy but English hard.

Even when it comes to outsourcing, the advantage is temporary. China’s programmers learn in Chinese and have teams with one outward-facing project liaison who speaks the client language. Thus, China is providing outsourcing to the US, using English, but also to Japan, using Japanese. Only about 5% of the world’s population is native English speakers and the importance of this segment will likely decline as the US and the UK decline as Economic superpowers. China is also investing in technological innovation, developing its own companies, like Baidu and Weibo for search and social networking while its entire technology education uses Chinese.

Japanese language science book

Myth 4: Indian languages are “not suitable” for science and technology education

Science is taught at the graduate level in dozens of languages across the world, from Japanese to Portuguese and from Thai to Polish. It is even written using the pictographic Kanji (Japanese writing system) script with thousands of characters. Even MS-DOS the command prompt operating system from Microsoft supported Kanji characters 30 years ago because the Japanese demanded it.

Indian languages, on the contrary, are highly scientific. They are phonetically sound and can express a range of sounds. They also have technical literatures and vocabulary from hundreds of years. Sanskrit-based grammars also makes it very easy to construct new words.

Hebrew was once considered a dead language, yet it was revived for science and technology education. Technion, Israel’s foremost engineering college is Hebrew-medium and is ranked much higher than the IITs. Languages need investment. India simply needs to invest in its languages and keep them contemporary. It is much easier to translate one thousand key books of science and technology than teach a foreign language to a billion plus people.

Indian Newspapers

Myth 5: People want English, but the government keep pushing Hindi/Indian languages

It is, in fact, the other way round. It is English that is pushed in India by government policy. The government allows only English in the Supreme Court and most High Courts. Most top institutes, be it the IITs,the IIMs or the AIIMS, they are all funded by the government and operate only in English. Most government websites still use English as the primary language. But is this because people want it?

No, where people have a real choice, they prefer to consume Indian languages, not English. Only one of the top 10 newspapers in India is in English. As a percent less than 10% of the newspaper readers prefer to read in English. English TV channels have an even smaller percent of the audience. Thus, given a choice, most people would rather read and listen to their own languages.

The demand for English arises because of flawed government policies that are pushed by the elite. We need to provide an equal opportunity to study Indian languages. This will allow deep technology penetration. English cannot be the vehicle for our development, rather it remains the biggest barrier to our progress. – Scoop Whoop, 9 August 2016

» Sankrant Sanu is an entrepreneur, writer and researcher based in Seattle and Gurgaon. His areas of interest include history, religious and cultural studies, entrepreneurship and technology.

Indian Newspapers

Kashmir: Nehru’s blunder can be rectified only by history – Amar Bhushan

Kashmir Political Leaders 2014

Amar BhushanIt is time J&K was treated like any other state in India without grandstanding on Article 370. It needs a clean and effective administration, a participatory governance, a police that firmly handles protesters, and security force that guards borders and takes on terrorists aggressively. – Amar Bhushan

Kashmir once again exposes our inability to come to terms with reality. Reactions to the current spate of violence following the gunning down of terrorist Burhan Wani are either opportunistic, pedantic, emotional or needlessly panicky. Since the early Fifties, it has been a familiar tale of violent protests, destruction of properties, curfews and killing of terrorists, civilians and personnel of security forces. Not surprisingly, ill-informed politicians and supercilious commentators have renewed calls for withdrawing security forces to the border and removing AFSPA at a quick pace, notwithstanding the fact that terrorists are operating all over the state. They also insist that police use “maximum restraint” and make distinction between “terrorist and people”, but would neither quantify what constitutes “the right amount of force and restrain” nor identify bullets that pick up terrorists in a mob without inflicting collateral damages. Their concern for the use of pellets is jarring, for pellets can neither be precisely guided nor firing units can comprise “only” sharp shooters. Some even believe that Kashmiris’ alienation is complete and it is time India packed up from the Valley. Others stress that Delhi is foolishly trying to hold the Valley by force rather than win its people and urge PM Modi to open his heart to separatists.

Pakistan PM Nawaz Sharif must be grateful to such self-righteous outpourings. He has since extended full-throated support to Kashmiri terrorists/separatists and indulged in a bit of drama like observing black day and honouring Wani as a martyr. The Pakistan Army on the other hand has been quietly training and infiltrating terrorists like Bahadur Ali and Mohammad Naveed, and using Hafiz Saeed and his surrogates to keep the situation on boil. Where they err is that violence tailored in Pakistan can never be a perfect fit in J&K.

The Kashmir issue has festered because we keep experimenting with ideas. Intelligence agencies bribed Hurriyat leaders for years, hoping erroneously that money would bring Kashmiris in the mainstream. Numerous back-channel and diplomatic initiatives were launched, but Pakistan has neither refrained from interfering in Kashmir nor accepted Line of Control as international border and unrestricted visits, trade and commerce across the border. Its unfinished agenda remains annexation of Kashmir, which India simply can’t deliver.

Mehbooba MuftiEveryone loves talking of finding a “political solution”, which actually means that we allow J&K to secede, become independent or join with Pakistan. Some advocate giving Kashmiris the option of plebiscite, no matter whether it leads to second partition of India on the basis of religion. Others suggest that all powers that Kashmir enjoyed at the time of its accession to India in 1947 be restored. They try not to understand that no amount of devolution of powers will ever satisfy the separatist fringe who simply dream of living with Pakistan. Strangely, Kashmiris seem blind to the fact that in a unified J&K, they will be reduced to minority and their language will be consumed by Urdu, Punjabi, Sindhi, Pashtun and Balochi.

70TH Independence Day PM Narendra Modi addressed the nation from the ramparts of Red FortThe other cliché is that we must involve “all stakeholders” to find a solution. The problem, however, is that while political parties may come around to accept a settlement, terrorists and separatists won’t, for their survival depends on how strongly they carry forward the Pakistan Army’s agenda. So long as Pak Army does not abandon its dream of annexing the Valley, there is no possibility of a permanent resolution. Hence, the only option that we have is to tire out Pak Army militarily and burn its mischief wherever it buds. Its proxies in the Valley will fall in line automatically.

It is time J&K was treated like any other state in India without grandstanding on Article 370. It needs a clean and effective administration, a participatory governance, a police that firmly handles protesters, and security force that guards borders and takes on terrorists aggressively. The PDP-BJP government is ideal to accomplish this objective. CM Mehbooba Mufti has her hand on the pulse of most Kashmiris and BJP has the requisite political strength to give her leeway to announce amnesty, provide relief to reluctant terrorists and tolerate their antics like awarding bravery rewards posthumously, raising pro-Pak flags and slogans, writing anti-India graffiti etc.

Opposing political interest groups are in all states and Kashmir is no exception. India is accustomed to managing Naxalites, insurgents and violent crusaders for social causes. There is no reason why it cannot manage unrest in the Valley. It will help if we stop overemphasizing and glamorising the events. The  problem of Kashmir is a historical blunder, which Nehru committed by not integrating it outright with the Indian union. It can now be rectified only by history.  – The New Indian Express, 14 August 2016

» The writer is a former special secretary, Research and Analysis Wing. Contact him at

Jammu & Kashmir Elections 2014

Article 370: The part larger than the whole – Radha Rajan

Kashmir curfew August 2016

Radha Rajan is the editor of Vigil OnlineThere is no point in demanding abrogation of Article 370 without demanding that the J&K State Constitution be rendered null and void too. Article 370 is only the symptom. The malaise is the State Constitution which is completely out of line and not in tune with the basic spirit or structure of the Indian Constitution. – Radha Rajan

When Hindu rulers of the princely states signed the Instrument of Accession, they surrendered legislative, judicial and executive control of three subjects—Defence, Communication, External Affairs and Ancillaries. This in effect meant that the princely states would have the right to decide upon policies, implementation and administration with regard to other issues, through such arrangements as they deemed fit. One such arrangement would have on been for the rulers to frame constitutions for their erstwhile kingdoms; state constitutions, which would have given their arrangements a modern, legal framework.

Hari Singh BahadurBut Sardar Patel, in the course of integrating all princely states into the Indian Union, persuaded the rulers to accept the Indian Constitution in toto and integrate completely into the Indian Union, assuring them that not only would there be no minimising of their royal stature and privileges but that they could and indeed they should send their representatives to the Constituent Assembly and participate actively in the drafting of the Indian Constitution. This, let us remember Sardar Patel did after Gandhi adopted a dismissive and even contemptuous attitude towards the rulers of the princely states who met Gandhi to know his mind about the future status of kings and their kingdoms in the event of political independence from the British. Gandhi far from reassuring them, even made his intent known publicly in one of his prayer meetings that he was quite prepared to hand over all princely states to the Muslim League under certain conditions. Besides, Gandhi also appointed Nehru and the Nawab of Bhopal to choose 92 representatives from among more than five hundred princely states to the Constituent Assembly.

Jawaharlal Nehru & Sheikh AbdullahDeeply concerned by the negative bent of mind of both Gandhi and Nehru, the Hindu princely states decided not to participate in the Constituent assembly and that they would not send any representative. But Gandhi’s assassination in January 1948 gave Patel the space and the freedom to reach out to the princely states again with respect and reassurances. The rulers of the princely states were assured by Sardar Patel that the Constitution would provide for all their concerns and guarantee equal rights to all regions and all peoples. The princely states acceding to India thus accepted the Indian Constitution totally; except the state of Jammu and Kashmir. That was Nehru’s personal fiefdom and Patel was kept away by a determined Nehru and Sheikh Abdullah from dealing with that state.

A brief glance at the history of J&K at the turn of the century leading up to Sheikh Abdullah hounding the Maharaja out of the state and negotiating individually with Nehru will throw a great deal of light on the imponderables that caused Article 370 to be included in the Indian Constitution. The root cause was Nehru’s intense hatred of Maharaja Hari Singh, Gandhi’s similar contempt for the rulers of the princely states and his overwhelming love for Nehru which made him hand over the affairs of the Kingdom of Jammu, Kashmir, Ladakh and the Tibets to Nehru on a platter. .

The history behind Article 370

The RSS and its parivar organizations, except the BJP, is convinced that the only way to render justice to Jammu and Ladakh which have been victims of the Abdullah/Mufti Sayeed clan, is to trifurcate/quadrificate J&K into Jammu, Ladakh, the Kashmir valley and a homeland for the persecuted and displaced Kashmiri Pandits, carved out from the valley itself. Demands for such a division of J&K still ignites jihadi fires in the Kashmir valley.

But what they conveniently choose to ignore is that the two-nation theory of which the J&K constitution, the separate flag, Article 370 are all symptoms, was already implemented in J&K when Nehru conceded every one of Sheikh Abdullah’s untenable demands which made the Muslim-majority state of J&K a special state in the Indian Union. And when the RSS calls for trifurcating the state and when the VHP calls for quadrificating the state, it is not to hand over the remains of the state to Pakistan. Hindu majority Jammu will be fully integrated with Indian Union without the provision of the separatist Article 370; Ladakh will be made into a Union Territory while the Kashmir valley alone or what is left of it after a separate homeland has been carved out for Kashmiri Pandits, can retain Article 370 and its illusory privileges.

The Abdullahs and the secular section of the Indian intellectual class are thrown into a panic as demands for division of the state is made every time jihad raises its head. They declare that such a division would deal a mortal blow to secularism. Implied is the proposition that it is a victory for secularism that the Muslim majority state of J&K chooses and continues to be a part of the Indian Union. And as for secularism, who are they kidding? The J&K state has rejected, from behind the fig-leaf of Article 370, that part of the 42nd amendment to the Indian Constitution by which certain core changes were made to the Preamble which now includes the words “socialist secular” and “unity and integrity”.

The J&K state has steadfastly refused to recognize, uphold and defend the “socialist”, “secular”, and “integrity” parts of the Preamble of the Indian Constitution. That this does not apply to the state of J&K has been stated in the Restatement of the Constitution (Application to J&K) order, 1954, which is Appendix II of some publications of the Indian Constitution. What does the secular brigade have to say about that considering they lose no opportunity to declare that secularism is the basic feature of our Constitution and the underlying principle of governance?

Beginning with the Preamble of the Constitution, Article 370 has defined the jurisdiction of the Indian Constitution in J&K. Let us quickly take a look at some of the more important laws that apply and those that do not apply to the state of J&K. This will help us to understand better the implications and the utter futility of granting any “greater autonomy” to the state or to even consider a return to the pre-1953 status.

The Jekyll and Hyde of Article 370

Article 370 has two personalities, so to say. It is a double-edged tool. It is a legal paradox which both integrates and divides the state from the rest of India. Like Sardar Patel said, it is a mechanism by which the President of India can issue special Orders which extend several Indian constitutional provisions that prevail in the rest of the country, to the state of J&K too. Under Article 370, the President, through the Constitution (Application to J&K) Orders of 1950, 1954 and several times thereafter up until 1994 has so far brought the state of J&K under the purview of 205 national acts and laws. These include several important laws concerning labour, laws concerning customs, excise and other taxes, The Negotiable Instruments Act, The Census Act, The Reserve Bank of India Act, The Imports and Exports (Control) Act, The Banking Companies Act, The Finance Commission (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act, The Representation of People Act, The Companies Act, and Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substance Act being some of the more important acts which has integrated the state of J&K with mainstream national laws. This is the Dr. Jekyll face of Article 370.

But, as I said, this integration is only one side of the tool, pardon the mixed metaphors. The other side is a dangerous weapon. It is this side which has caused the maximum damage not only to the state but to the national fibre. While on the one hand Article 370 has enabled the extension of several laws to prevail in J&K, it has also kept the Indian Constitution from being implemented in toto. The Mr. Hyde face of Article 370 states that Parliament may make laws for that state only with the consultation or concurrence of the state government. There are several parts of the Indian Constitution which do not apply to the state at all or apply with modifications. A very major section of the chapter on the fundamental rights of a citizen, enshrined in our national Constitution, does not apply to the state of J&K. Two very important provisions of our Constitution which deserve attention in this context, and which either do not apply to J&K or apply with modification, are Articles 352 and 360 relating to declaring a state of Emergency in the country as a whole or in any part of the territory of this country.

As per Article 352, if the President of India is convinced that there is an imminent danger to national security either because of external aggression, possibility of war or because of armed rebellion from within the country, he may, upon receiving a written communication from the Union Cabinet, proclaim a state of emergency in the whole country or in any part of the country which is so threatened. But Article 370 has enabled the modification of this Article with respect to J&K in that while the President may declare emergency in the whole country in the event of a war or external aggression, he may not declare emergency in J&K without the consent of the state government in cases of internal armed rebellion. This means that even when terrorism brings the state to a point of total anarchy or breakdown of law and order, the President cannot declare a state of emergency in J&K without the permission or request of the state government.

As for Article 360 by which the President may declare a financial emergency in the whole or part of this country, it does not apply to the state of J&K at all. Given the runaway corruption in J&K afflicting all areas of governance and administration, and given the lack of political will to deal with it, a state of financial emergency can never be declared by the President even when the state teeters on the brink of a complete economic or financial breakdown. The CBI has no jurisdiction in J&K and neither do the CVC nor the Indian Penal Code. Not that alone, The Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 also does not apply to J&K.

Jammu & Kashmir National Conference FlagIf this were not enough, what has escaped media and academic scrutiny is the delimitation of Assembly and Parliamentary constituencies in Jammu and Kashmir. Though Kashmiris constitute roughly only 22 per cent of the State’s total population, the mechanism cleverly devised by Sheikh Abdullah’s National Conference Party in 1951 enables it to capture nearly half of the total Assembly and Lok Sabha seats. The National Conference, with the full complicity of Nehru and successive Congress governments has violated every norm set by the Delimitation Act (which had no jurisdiction in J&K then, courtesy Article 370), and carved out 46 Assembly segments in the small Valley as against 41 segments combined for the Jammu and Ladakh regions which are far bigger territorially and several times more populated than the Valley; and three of the six seats to the Lok Sabha have been cornered by the Valley Muslims alone. This discriminatory nature of representation in the Assembly and Parliament is totally contrary to the rules framed under the Indian Parliament’s Representation of People’s Act, 1951, and those under the relevant State Act of 1957.

This cornering of the major chunk of Assembly segments and Lok Sabha seats has ensured once and for all that the Muslims of the state have a decisive say in all affairs of the state. This not only violates all democratic norms but is also a violation of the principle of pluralism to which passionate lip service is paid by the secular brigade in the media and academia. But the valley is a Sunni Muslim majority region and even the remnants of Hindus after five centuries of violent and coercive Islam have today been hounded out altogether.

Article 32, the pernicious Article 35A and what it means

By far the most offensive and the root cause of all major problems in J&K lies in the modification of Article 35 of the Indian Constitution through the mechanism of Article 370. Not that alone, to Article 35 is added 35A which carries the cancerous cell that has sapped the state of J&K of its vitality and life-force. These changes, like other amendments effected through Article 370, are not a part of the text of the Constitution. Therefore, any reader who does not care to read Appendix II of the Constitution of India will never know that a very pernicious and undemocratic change has been made to Article 35 or that together with 35A they constitute the root cause of the evil side of Article 370. It is because of the changes made to Article 35 and because of Article 35A of the Indian Constitution that Article 370 has to go and its roots, the J&K state constitution. This may be the right moment to raise the question whether these major changes and amendments made to the Indian Constitution through Article 370 and which are contained only as Appendix I and II, are even a part of the Indian Constitution. And as such, are these changes constitutional?

The modification made to Article 35, the inclusion of Article 35A and the fact that Articles 12 to 15 of the Indian Constitution do not apply to the state of J&K must be taken and read together to understand why the J&K constitution is a perversion of democracy. Democracy’s underlying principle is equality before law. By completely disregarding the fundamental democratic principle of equality, the National Conference, whose brainchild the state constitution is, continues to preside over a feudal political arrangement. The ultimate perversion lies in the fact that there is no judicial redress for the affected people of J&K whose fundamental rights have been violated and who have been denied the basic right to equality. Let us take Articles 35 and 35A apart, piece by piece, to see the perversion clearly.

As per Constitution (Application to J&K) Order of 1971, clause (3) of Article 32 will not apply to the state of J&K. Article 32 specifies the remedies available to every citizen for enforcement of rights conferred by the Constitution and contained in the chapter on Fundamental Rights. Clause (3) of Article 32 says that while any citizen whose fundamental rights have been violated or who has been denied his fundamental rights may approach the Supreme Court for redress and while the Supreme Court shall have the power ‘to issue directions or orders for the enforcement of these rights, Parliament too “may by law empower any other court to exercise within its local limits all those powers conferred on the Supreme Court to enforce these rights”. This means not just the Supreme Court alone but any other court in a state or union territory can be empowered by parliament to assume the very same powers as those of the Supreme Court to enforce the fundamental rights enshrined in the Constitution.

The chapter on Fundamental Rights in the Indian Constitution lists the constitutional rights to which every Indian citizen is entitled. These rights can be enforced through judicial intervention and parliament has the right to make laws for any part of the country or for the country as a whole to protect and enforce these rights. These rights are inviolable except in situation of a state of Emergency in the country. Article 35 declares that Parliament has the right and state legislatures do not have the power to make laws for enforcing these rights, for prescribing punishment for acts declared to be offences under this part and so on. But using the provision of Article 370, the state of J&K has refused to allow Parliament to make laws for the state under clause (3) of Article 16 and clause (3) of Article 32, both of which, besides Articles 33 and 34 are matters mentioned in Article 35A (i) as being areas for which Parliament has the right to make laws.

By refusing to accept the jurisdiction of clause (3) of Article 32, the state of J&K has violated the fundamental rights of a section of the citizens of India residing in J&K, and who do not belong to a category created by the National Conference called “permanent residents”. The National Conference may disclaim any responsibility for the creation of this category with the explanation that “permanent residents” is the new name given to the category of residents of J&K previously known as “state subjects” which was created in 1927 when the state was ruled by the Dogras. But this argument is fallacious because while the Maharaja may have had very good reasons for creating this category (shall come to this shortly), there was no reason for continuing with this classification of the residents in J&K as “state subjects” and “non-state subjects” in independent India governed by the Indian Constitution.

Jammu & Kashmir FlagWhat are the implications of clause (3) of Article 32 not being applicable to J&K? It means that those citizens of India who are resident in J&K but who are not “permanent residents” as defined by Section 6 of the J&K state constitution, cannot challenge in any court the denial by the state government of the fundamental rights guaranteed to them by the Indian Constitution because the J&K state constitution has its own version of fundamental rights which is not guaranteed to all residents of J&K. Only the “permanent residents” of J&K are so privileged. And those residents of J&K who are denied these fundamental rights, cannot approach either the Supreme Court or any local court within J&K for redress because Article 370 has made it impossible for any court to offer redress. The fundamental rights as per the J&K state constitution is discriminatory and there is nothing that any court can do for those who are denied these rights in the state.

And it is this defiance of the basic spirit of the Indian Constitution which has been sanctified and legitimised as Article 35A about which nobody knows, certainly not the shouting secular brigade. Article 35A is not a part of the official text of the Constitution. Article 35A says:

Saving of laws with respect to permanent residents and their rights:

Notwithstanding anything contained in this Constitution, no existing law in force in the State of Jammu and Kashmir, and no law hereafter enacted by the Legislature of the State,

(a) Defining the classes of persons who are, or shall be permanent residents of the State of Jammu and Kashmir; or

(b) Conferring on such permanent residents any special rights and privileges or imposing upon other persons any restrictions as respects

(i) Employment under the state government;

(ii) Acquisition of immovable property in the State;

(iii) Settlement in the State; or

(iv) Right to scholarships and such other forms of aid as the State Government may provide, shall be void on the ground that it is inconsistent with or takes away or abridges any rights conferred on the other citizens of India by any provision of this Part.

Readers are urged to note the tone and content of Article 35A. It says the state government has classified its residents as first class and second class citizens; those Indian citizens living in J&K who are categorised as “permanent residents” are first class citizens with special privileges. This perversion has been enshrined in the state constitution and notwithstanding anything contained in the Indian Constitution, no law existing in the state of J&K and no law which may be made in the future with regard to the matters contained in Article 35A, can be rendered void by Parliament or the Supreme Court on the grounds that it violates or abridges the rights guaranteed by the Indian Constitution to all citizens. What Article 370 is doing is enabling the state constitution to thumb its nose at the Supreme Court and at Parliament, and above all at the Indian Constitution. It is in effect saying that the denial of the fundamental rights of the Indian Constitution to that section of Indian citizens in J&K who are not “Permanent Residents” is not justiciable and cannot be enforced.

Sardar Patel saw only the Dr. Jekyll side of Article 370. He either did not see or remained silent about Mr. Hyde. Article 370 derives its evil nature from the state constitution. There is no point in demanding abrogation of Article 370 without demanding that the J&K state constitution be rendered null and void too. Article 370 is only the symptom. The malaise is the state constitution which is completely out of line and not in tune with the basic spirit or structure of the Indian Constitution.

It was criminal culpability on the part of our leaders that they did not stipulate any conditions for the state constitution, had no say in the terms of reference of the state constituent assembly and did not insist on representatives as observers of the proceedings in the state constituent assembly to ensure that the state constitution was in line with the basic structure of the national constitution. Article 370 thus is the root cause of some of the more acute problems in J&K. The root-cause entrenched by Article 35A pointing in the direction of the J&K state constitution.

Article 35A tells us by inference that persons categorised as non-permanent residents of J&K cannot buy immovable property in J&K, are not eligible for employment by the state government, cannot contest or vote in local body or Assembly elections, cannot avail of scholarships and other grants offered by the state government to its state subject residents and above all cannot seek redress in any court, local or national. This then is the reason why there is little or no economic or industrial development in the state. No businessman or industrialist from the rest of India will ever invest a rupee in a state which will not allow him to own property there.

J&K is wholly dependent on Government of India funds not only to meet Plan expenditure but also non-Plan expenditure. Any investment in industry or economic development comes solely from the GOI. Whatever little indigenous trade or industry existed in the state by way of its orchards, carpets and tourism, have been almost destroyed by terrorism and continuing self-pity and apathy. Considering that the state has neither the financial nor natural resources to exist independently of the rest of India, it is greater integration with India that is called for and not greater autonomy. And this can be effected, some thinkers believe, only by abrogating Article 370. But that leaves the question of the mechanism by which to integrate the state constitution with the Indian constitution if you abrogate Article 370 but allow the J&K state constitution to remain?

Is it possible to abrogate Article 370

1. The first and most obvious course of action would be that which is contained in Article 370 itself: The President of India, by a public notification can declare that the Article ceases to be operative. But here is the catch—the President can issue such a notification only upon the recommendation of the state constituent assembly. But the state constituent assembly has been dissolved and no longer exists. The question then is: can the President issue this notification unilaterally considering that it is not possible to procure the recommendation of a non-existent body? Or should we understand that because the state constituent assembly has been dissolved, the President can never ever issue such a notification? It is a crying shame that as a nation, we have still not worked through the nuances of Article 370.

2. The second option rests on the assumption that the rights and responsibilities of the state constituent assembly have been handed over to the state legislature. In which case, the state legislature can issue the recommendation to the President asking him to issue the notification which will render Article 370 inoperative. But considering that the National Conference has given the Muslim majority valley 46 assembly seats against the 41 allotted to Jammu and Ladakh together, no state legislature dominated by the Muslims of the valley will ever seek to abrogate Article 370 under whose dispensation they are the most privileged category of the residents of J&K.

3. The third option would be to take recourse to Article 368 of the Indian Constitution which empowers Parliament to amend the Constitution and also lays down the procedure to be adopted. One would think that Article 368 empowers Parliament to adopt the procedure laid down in Article 368 and amend the Constitution by abrogating Article 370. But Article 370 itself has enabled through the Constitution (Application to J&K) Order, an amendment of the Constitution in such a way that Article 368 applies to J&K only in a modified manner. Clause (2) of Article 368 says that after the Bill for amending the Constitution is tabled in either house of the Parliament and after it has been passed by a two-thirds majority in both houses of Parliament, the President may give his assent to the Bill seeking amendment to the constitution. But, and here is the catch again, the President’s Order on the applicability of the Indian Constitution to J&K says that as far as J&K is concerned, the President may issue such an assent only as per clause (1) of Article 370 itself which means that the President can issue amendments to the Indian Constitution through his Constitution (Application to J&K) Order, only in consultation with or with the concurrence of the state government. Back to square one. Even Article 368 takes tortuous twists and turns and comes back to Article 370 again.

4. But the cutest trick lies in the amendment effected to Article 249. Article 249 declares that Parliament is empowered to legislate “in the national interest” even on matters enumerated in the state list. Article 370 has made this Article applicable to J&K with the modification that instead of “state list” the clause should read that Parliament, in the national interest may legislate on that matter “which is not enumerated in the Union List or in the Concurrent List”. Very clever, this. Who will read the fine print of Appendix II to understand the “puppy chasing its tail” futility of trying to get rid of Article 370 through the constitutional route? “Any matter not enumerated in the Union List or Concurrent List” indeed! As far as these two lists go, the final position has been stated and adopted by the Restatement of the Constitution (Application to J&K) Orders up until 1994. The only list that remains is the State List and the State List does not apply to J&K at all because unlike the other states in the Indian Union, the residuary powers with regard to J&K lie not with the Center but with the state, rendering the State List meaningless. So how can Parliament legislate with regard to any matter in the national interest as far as J&K goes, if it should not find place in the Union List or the Concurrent List? What other list is there, pray?

Trying to get rid of Article 370 taking the constitutional path is futile and unproductive. We have created and fattened the grossest aberration whereby the miniscule part is larger than the whole. Article 370 is larger than the Constitution because there seems to be nothing in the Indian Constitution into which Article 370 can be subsumed or by which it can be made to go away. We also have the grossest aberration in that the interest of one state outweighs the collective national interest. Our legal and constitutional experts have not even begun to apply their minds on how to get rid of Article 370. If actions have consequences, inaction too has consequences; sometimes worse. – Vigil Online, 4 August 2016

» Radha Rajan is a political analyst and animal rights activist in Chennai.

Kashmir Political Leaders 2014

Kashmiris Vote 2014

 See also

Was the Una Dalit beating incident a set up? – Jagruk Bharat

Dalits in Una Gujarat

Question MarkSomething is fishy about the Una Dalit flogging incident. Media cries it is one more incident of Hindu fundamentalism, but here are some shocking facts which prove otherwise! – SayNoToSoldMedia

BJP did not raise issue of rapes of SC girls in Kerala, Bihar, West Bengal, and scores in UP. So it is now answering beating of SC men in Gujarat as if it itself organised the beating.


The least it could have done was conduct a proper investigation as there are some points of suspicion:

1) Una is a Congress stronghold.

2) The vehicle used in the incident came in from Daman, which is at least 700 kms from Una. Do people travel 700 kms just to beat someone up?

3) The TV which made this public the first time is a local Telugu TV. What was it doing in Gujarat?

4) Locals say the assailants were a mix of people from different religions.

One cannot rule out the hand of Congress, Communists, or the Church—all of whom have vested interests in maligning the Gujarat government and the so-called majority community of India.

How will they gain?

A) Communists will be successful in wedging a deeper rift between the various Hindu communities, Dalits in this case.

B) Church will gain conversions by showing the ‘majority religion’ in bad light. It’s worth noting on how powerful the Church is in these matters:

Two people were very successful in stopping the conversion of Scheduled Castes and Tribes in Gujarat and both are now languishing in jail with some very serious charges on them. One was Asaram Bapu, who’s been charged with the molestation of an underage girl. Another was Swami Aseemanand, who’s been charged with terrorist activities.

What a sweet co-incidence that whoever stops conversion activities in Gujarat, or elsewhere, ends up in jail because of some serious crime. Convenient.

C) Congress will gain politically, of course, as Gujarat has the BJP government. A weak, clueless, helpless, apologetic BJP government. A government which is expert in taking random flying arrows upon itself.

Beware of changes around ourselves. Demography is the destiny. The lesser we get, closer we are to our doom.

Because, inside the womb of a staggering victory with no vision and boundlessly arrogant pride, breathes the foetus of an eternal and absolute self-annihilation. – Jagruk Bharat, 21 July 2016

NB: There are ten tweets in the original article that have not been copied here. They give important background information. Go to the original article to see them.

Una Dalit Beating

Why does India breed so many traitors? – Mrinal Suman

India Flag

Mrinal Suman“History stands testimony to the fact that a nation infested with the virus of treachery, deceitfulness and perfidy has always been an easy prey for foreign subjugation. No one knows this bitter truth better than India. Yet, our leaders, media and intelligentsia keep discrediting and harming the country through their seditious utterances and activities.” – Major General Mrinal Suman

While studying Indian history in school days, one was repeatedly told that the foreign invaders resorted to ‘divide and rule’ policy to gain control over India. They were painted as unscrupulous schemers who exploited the simple, trusting and gullible Indians.

It is only at a much later stage that one realised the hollowness of the above assertion. The truth is that we are adept at producing hordes of traitors who revel in India’s ruin. Every victory of the foreign invaders was facilitated by the local collaborators who betrayed their kings for some devious reward or to settle personal scores. No fort was ever conquered without the infidelity of a trusted minister/commander.

Unfortunately, centuries of slavery has taught us nothing. We carry on spawning throngs of people who can stoop down to any level (even imperil national security) for their petty gains. Our leaders, media and intellectuals appear to have a single point agenda: how to generate innovative issues to keep the nation divided and embroiled in petty bickering and internal dissentions; and thereby impede progress and bring a bad name to the country. They abhor India’s rise. Let me elucidate.

First, the leaders: They are the fountainhead of all fissiparous tendencies. For them, vote bank politics take precedence over everything else. One does not have to be a visionary to predict the danger of abetting illegal migration from Bangladesh for garnering votes. But unscrupulous political leaders carry on unconcerned.

One hangs one’s head in shame when political leaders extend their support to a delinquent student leader who seeks destruction of India. Comparing him with martyr Bhagat Singh is by far the most perfidious act.

Perhaps, India is the only country that has an ignominious track record of producing Home Ministers who reveled in shaming the country. One concocted theories of saffron terrorism to please his party bosses.

In so doing, he presented a convenient propaganda tool to Pakistan. Another Home Minister did the unthinkable. He declared a terrorist to be innocent in an affidavit to the court. The aim was to ensnare the opposition leaders in a false case. Sadly, India’s intelligence gathering apparatus suffered immense damage in the process.

When a leader declares ‘it’s safer to be a cow than to be a Muslim in India today’, he puts the whole country to shame. The world media flashes such headlines with sinister pleasure. India’s image takes a terrible beating. Just to score a brownie point against the government, he presents a convenient propaganda handle to the hostile forces. How low can a leader stoop!

Circero QuoteRecently, a renowned advocate and a former law minister told a TV channel that shouting slogans for the destruction of the country is not debarred in the constitution.

According to him, freedom of expression was of paramount importance. Even demand for secession (azadi) was justified. As the interview progressed, one was not only amazed by his perverted reasoning but also shocked to see the brazenness with which he was arguing. Survival of India appeared to be of no concern to him. One wondered if one was watching an Indian or a Pakistani channel.

Secondly, the media personnel: The less said the better. From their conduct, it appears that many of them are foreign plants and India means little to them. When a leading media house invited a vicious and remorseless enemy like General Pervez Musharraf and groveled before him, it marked the lowest depths of shamelessness to which journalism could sink. Instead of castigating him for the Kargil war, he was treated as a peace-loving guest.

Both the electronic and the print media never report ‘positives’ about the country. Ugly India sells (a la ‘Slumdog Millionaire‘); and not progressive India. Remember how a TV reporter failed to digest the popularity of Modi in the US and tried to incite the crowd with provocative remarks. But then they get paid to demean India, and not to extol it.

Immense damage is also being inflicted on the unity of the country by the media through its Machiavellian and skewed reporting. Every news item is deliberately reported with a religious, caste or creed slant—‘a dalit girl molested in a Delhi bus’ (as if other women are not molested in Delhi buses) or ‘church guard killed’ (in reality an argument between two security guards had turned violent) or ‘Muslim driver runs over a boy’ (as if his being a Muslim is of any relevance).

Recently, in a case of cattle stealing, a leading newspaper could not resist the temptation to add that ‘one of the five thieves is learnt to have had connections with a cow protection group in the past’. How cunningly, a simply case of robbery was given a communal taint.

Petty vandals are given the coverage befitting a mass leader. It was obnoxious to see two TV channels airing their interviews with a student leader charged with sedition. The worst was the indulgent demeanor of the TV anchors; as if a national hero was being eulogized. The interviews were repeatedly telecast at prime time.

Did these channels think of interviewing war heroes or martyrs’ families? Forget it; that would have been a pro-India act and that is an act of sacrilege for them.

Thirdly, the self-proclaimed secular intelligentsia: It has done the maximum damage to India’s prestige and standing. Some of them appear to be fifth columnists masquerading as progressive intellectuals. In which country of the world would the intelligentsia write to the US government not to receive their Prime Minister?

Honestly, it is simply loathsome: duly elected representative of 1.25 billion Indians being subjected to indignities by a shameless bunch of foreign-educated and foreign-paid anti-national elements. Unfortunately, their protests get huge publicity abroad, thereby undermining all efforts to raise India’s standing in the world forum.

It can be said with certainty that the well-orchestrated campaign of intolerance was totally malicious in intent. The sole objective was to stall all progressive reforms by tarnishing the image of the government. How else can anti-nationalism be defined? As expected, having dented India’s reputation, sold-out media chose to ignore the true facts as they emerged.

Hundreds of Christians, led by the church leaders, marched in protest on the roads of Delhi against the alleged vandalism of churches and a theft in a Christian school. Routine cases of petty crimes were cited to suggest an anti-minority conspiracy.

They ensured extensive coverage of their protests by the foreign and Indian media, thereby damaging India’s secular image. Foreign channels are only too eager to shame India. Unwisely, even Obama got carried away with his uncalled for advice, losing considerable goodwill in India. Reportedly, he said so on the prodding of an Indian leader, a la J-MJ.

Finally, soldiers and the national symbols: the national flag, the national anthem and the national salutations are representative of a country’s national identity and pride. They symbolize ancient heritage, current challenges and future aspirations. For soldiers, their sanctity is incontestable.

Bharat MataThousands of soldiers have sacrificed their lives to plant our tricolor on the enemy strongholds, thereby earning the ultimate honor of having their bodies draped in the national flag.

Notes of the national anthem make every soldier get goose pimples. The response is instantaneous and the effect is electrifying. Even in their homes, they stand up with their families when the national anthem is played on TV during Independence/Republic Day ceremonies.

Similarly, national salutations like ‘Hindustan Zindabad’, ‘Jai Hind’ and ‘Bharat Mata Ki Jai’ make adrenalin surge through their bodies. The salutations act as a rallying call to inspire the soldiers for the ultimate sacrifice. All military functions conclude with full-throated renditions of ‘Bharat Mata Ki Jai’.

Therefore, the current controversy regarding national salutations is highly painful to the soldiers. They fail to understand as to how an Indian can have difficulty in hailing the country. How can ‘Bharat Mata Ki Jai’ be assigned religious overtones.

Finally: History stands testimony to the fact that a nation infested with the virus of treachery, deceitfulness and perfidy has always been an easy prey for foreign subjugation. No one knows this bitter truth better than India. Yet, our leaders, media and intelligentsia keep discrediting and harming the country through their seditious utterances and activities. Under the garb of freedom of speech, they support those felonious speakers who vow not to rest till India is destroyed.

When Paris was hit by the terrorist attacks, the whole country gave a unified response. Compare it with our Batla House encounter against Indian Mujahdeen where two terrorists were killed and two arrested. A brave police officer lost his life. Yet, many seditious elements had the impudence to term the encounter to be ‘fake’.

Therefore, the mystery remains unsolved. Why does India continue to produce so many Jaichands and Mir Jafars? Is India a cursed nation or is treachery a part of our DNA? One wonders. – Sify, 29 March 2016

» Major General Mrinal Suman, AVSM, VSM, PhD, commanded an Engineer Regiment on the Siachen Glacier, the most hostile battlefield in the world. A highly qualified officer (B Tech, MA (Public Administration), MSc (Defence Studies) and a Doctorate in Public Administration) he was also the Task Force Commander at Pokhran and was responsible for designing and sinking shafts for the nuclear tests of May 1998.

Cicero denounces Catiline in the Senate

Cicero Quote

VIDEO: The Makarand Paranjape Interview – Newsd

The Makarand Paranjape Interview: Nationalism & Campus Politics.
Prof Makarand Paranjape is an Indian poet and teaches English at the Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi.

See also: Some questions for Kanhaiya, Leftists and JNU – Makarand R. Paranjape


Some questions for Kanhaiya, Leftists and JNU – Makarand R. Paranjape

Makarand R. Paranjape at JNU

Makarand R. ParanjapeIn the on-going series of teach-in lectures on nationalism, Prof Makarand Paranjape asked if JNU was a ‘democratic space’ or a ‘Left hegemonic space’ and why Leftists had trouble accepting the ‘legitimacy of the Indian state’.

The 15th lecture, “India’s Uncivil Wars: Tagore, Gandhi … JNU and what is ‘Left’ of the nation”, in the teach-in series of lectures on nationalism, titled “What the nation really needs to know” at the Jawaharlal Nehru University administrative block since the controversy over the arrest of its Students Union president Kanhaiya Kumar, turned out to be quite different from the earlier 14 lectures in the series.

Makarand Paranjape, a professor of English at JNU’s Centre for English Studies since 1999, began by noting what makes the university where he teaches so special:

I think that one of the things that makes us special or important to the nation is precisely this alternative, performative platform, this stage on which we can demonstrate our ideas, our disagreements—how to think clearly in fact, rather than the other performative, which is, I would say, mesmerising.

When Kanhaiya came out of jail and gave this talk,  I was a convert: I was also swaying and dancing around with everyone. It was a great moment.

But what I am going to do today is to emphasise the other performative—where we talk about ideas, we are objective, we are critical, we do not get carried away, we are open-minded, we interrogate and critique ourselves and not just mount attacks on people we disagree with.

And, indeed, also check factually incorrect statements, the sources of our ideas and so forth. And I do hope there is an occasion to discuss some of these things.

Paranjape spent the first 40 minutes of his lecture on Tagore and Gandhi’s concept of nationalism before coming to the events at JNU since February 9.

This, incidentally, was the first lecture put up by “Stand With JNU Media Group” that, on its YouTube page, was accompanied by a caveat titled “A critical analysis of the lecture” by Anshul Trivedi who began by noting that this lecture made him “learn the difficult art of rationally listening to something which I am viscerally repulsed by.” Trivedi went on to offer his critique which can be read here.

Paranjape had recently been in news for being part of a petition calling for an “unbiased and rigorous new historiography of India” that accused those behind the “closely-linked statements” on tolerance or “award-wapsi” as being “neither intellectual nor academic.” He was also part of those who wanted Sheldon Pollock removed as mentor and general editor of the Murty Classical Library of India.

Paranjape spoke in English, interspersed with some Hindi and began with an epigraph from John Gallagher: “Revolutions devour their children, nationalism eats its parents.”

Tracing the first part, “Revolutions devour their children” to Jacques Mallet du Pan in 1793 after the French Revolution, he went on to discuss the space between the so-called “revolutionaries” and the so-called “ultra-nationalists”.

I am a student of literature and I am deeply interested in how texts are read and interpreted. And texts include so many things, including slogans.

I am deeply interested in hermeneutics and interpretation and I would like to suggest for your consideration today a certain kind of hermeneutic of mediality. And it is interesting that these words—medial, medium—go back to very old roots where they merge with words like madhyam. And for those of you who are interested in classical Indian thought, there is a very famous school of Buddhism which is called Madhyamaka.

So how to mediate? What kind of hermeneutics can we have of mediation? A medial hermeneutic. Perhaps to begin with there has to be an intermedial hermeneutic so you find a way to negotiate or stand between two opposites or two poles to see how these two sides, how these two positions can speak to one another.

But perhaps if this project of mediality really succeeds, then from being intermedial might end up being remedial and the idea of remedy really connected with what we consider our state of health. Our state of health in many ways is about restoring equilibrium really. And of course it is very difficult to do in these times. But this is what we require today. And may I mention that there is an equivalence of this in contemporary thinking and that is called a diatopical hermeneutics.

He said he wanted to go beyond the easy and reductive formulations of pitting friends against the enemies.

What follows is a rough transcript (and translation into English) of the lecture from about the 40-minute point of the video. — Editor


So much has been said, so much ink has been spilt—thankfully, not so much blood. When I heard the title of this series, “What the nation really needs to know”—and as my friend Kanhaiya also said, “We will tell them”—I felt we in JNU need to ask: Do we not have to listen? We only have to tell? Have we understood it all?

We too should listen to what they say. This is what I feel. This is the “diatopical intermediality” I was telling you about.

We will speak, but we will also listen.

So when we listen to them—and certainly there are misunderstandings—but it seems as if the discourse that emanates from here—the discussion and debates that come out from here—is very anti: It does not seem constructive. So people have told me, even some of those who think. Everything is very negative and destructive. So then question arises, and these are very important questions.

Someone said here, “We will fight, we will battle, we will do this, we will do that, we will increase the fellowship too….” Wonderful, if you can accomplish it, but this is our state, I mean, we have elected these people. Unless we say, “This bourgeoise democracy we don’t believe in.”

This is the rub. This is where I come to the last part of my talk.

Did you check your facts?

What’s left of the nation—“left” here has a double meaning obviously. But by left of the nation, it means “What remains?” We’ve lost the middle-ground. Only the extremes remain. What is left of the nation? But what is left of the nation also means what the leftists have been saying about nationalism.

Kanhaiya said yesterday, “Ours is the oldest organisation, and we fought for independence.” But I want to ask him: What about the flip flop that happened by the Communist Party of India when they suddenly declared that the imperialist war was a people’s war? They said to the British—the Community Party of India sent a secret letter to the British—that they “will not agitate when you are fighting, we will cooperate with you.”

So when he [Kanhaiya] said, “We fought for India’s independence”—that is the Left students associations—I want to know what the evidence is.

It is very important to ask these questions.

Similarly, I might ask my friend Kanhaiya—he is right here. He said, “[M.S.] Golwalkar met Mussolini.” [Addressing Kanhaiya]: Did you not say that? Did you check your facts? It was Moonje [B.S. Moonje—a leader of the Hindu Mahasabha, and not Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh] who met Mussolini.

I am not saying they [the RSS] were not impressed by the fascists—they were. They thought it is a very good idea to have an authoritarian system. Please let us agree on what is factual and what is not factual.

So, we have to check out facts, that is what I am saying.

Judicial murders

Fascism stands for anti-democratic position—and so does Stalinism. I am proud to belong to a country where one so-called “judicial murder” created such a huge ruckus.

Do you know how many judicial murders were committed from 1920 to 1950s in Stalinist USSR? 799,543. Almost a million.

And how many people were executed for criminal and civil charges? Only 34,000.

How many went to the Gulag? 14 million.

How many perished there? 1.4 million.

Now, my submission is—and where I am getting these facts from? Soviet records—Please look. Please, this too should be discussed. Fascists are anti-democratic. But we have also to look at the record of some of our friends from the Left. They were very anti-democratic—Stalin certainly was. He killed everybody who disagreed with him. He killed Trotsky as well.

Who tolerates dissent?

And this is not new in JNU. 1970s—you read the history of JNU. I think the author is somewhere here—I saw him earlier—oh, there he is. There was a very interesting Trotskyite called Jairus Banaji, and he challenged the most charismatic established Left leader who was none other than Comrade Prakash Karat. And in the following year, Anand Kumar won, defeated Karat in the JNUSU poll as a free-thinker.

So we have to look at our own history and see what has happened. So please let’s examine the details and see:

Who tolerates democracy?

Who tolerates dissent?

And who doesn’t?

Now, we have had so many statements from everywhere, but can you show me a statement from North Korea? Or even from China?

Because in China even today—I have been to China five times—and it is ruled by the Communist Party of India—but it is a capitalist state. I have met many Chinese intellectuals. In a cafe, over a drink, they can tell you whatever you like, how bad certain things were. But ask them to take out a morcha, they can’t.

You go to Tiananmen Square and take out what poster and see what happens. You will be whisked away.

Where? Who knows?

So who is democratic? Who is not democratic? It is something we have to deeply, deeply ask ourselves.

‘Ye Azadi jhooti hai’

Allow me two more things.

I have told you one instance of what happened during the Independence Movement. I will give you two more instances and then I will finish my talk and you can ask me questions.

So India became independent in 1947 and Communist Party of India, which was then not divided, was led by a man called Ranadive [B.T. Ranadive] who gave a slogan—“ye azadi jhooti hai” [This freedom is fake].

Romesh Thapar who edited a journal called Crossroads was trying to smuggle copies—“smuggle” because he was taking them to Telangana—and Nehru invoked sedition. He also invoked sedition against Organiser, let me tell you. Nehru said to both sides “Boss, what is happening?” Both sides, in different ways were saying—were attacking—independence.

So these slogans—about “fake freedom”—ye azadi jhooti hai—have persisted over time.

So the Communist line on India’s independence followed Stalin, where he said revolution in the colonies would be a two-step process: First step, you know, you will have a bourgeoise kind of revolution or a bourgeoise take-over of power and in the second step you’d have a truly communist government in place.

So, this two-step theory was followed in India.

Legitimacy of the Indian State

Another moment when China invaded India [in 1962], E.M.S. Namboodiripad [another Communist leader] said India is the aggressor.

The only thing I am trying to say is: Why is it so difficult to accept the legitimacy of the Indian State? For many people in the established Left. Forget about the Maoists.

The Maoists believe that they have to use armed revolution to dislodge this government, and take over power. And you know the DSU [Democratic Students’ Union that arrested leaders Umar Khalid and Anirban earlier belonged to] is an offshoot of this Maoist party.

And let me also tell you—please also take a look at the letters of resignation that Umar Khalid, Anirban wrote from DSU. They said, “We are resigning because there is no scope for dissent. There is no democracy in DSU.”

Look at the ironies of these situation. I want you to be alive to that. So that is another moment.

Be a critic

And the third moment, if you want to look at it, is what happens after the collapse of the Soviet Union. And you look at the New Left Review issues and it is a great crisis: What to do?

Because the only counter to imperialism—the only counter to capitalism—is now gone.

And then they said, well, within the state, within the bourgeoise state, be a critic. Which I accept, but the point I am trying to make is that different shades of the Left in India have had a great deal of trouble in accepting the legitimacy of the elected government of India, whoever the party is.

Where does the Left derive its legitimacy from?

Now the real question is this: From where does the Left—and there are all kinds of Left, you know.

There is a Congress Left, you know, the Socialists: Aruna Asaf Ali, Achyut Patwardhan, JP [Jayprakash Narayan]. Now, these were branded by the Communist Party of India—look at the dialogues.

There’s a Progressive Left. There are writers—Mulk Raj Anand was thrown out, Manto was thrown out for indecency.

So it’s a complicated story. And I don’t what to simplify it.

But all I want to do to ask you is this: When you say you will overthrow the elected government, where do you derive your legitimacy from?

Is it that all the peasants have been polled—to give you the legitimacy?

I submit for your consideration that the legitimacy that authorises violence in this case, and you know the summary executions of informants—please read what happens: If you are thought to be an informant, you are executed by these people. I can give you figures….

Anyhow, where does it derive its authorisation from?

Where does it derive its legitimacy from?

I submit to you that it derives its authorisation and legitimacy from ideology.

So it’s like a theological authorisation.

It’s not any plebiscite or vote.

So yeah, if people in JNU had voted, if the Student Union had organised an actual debate, like, say the Oxford Union on the eve of the war—World War II—when they said, “This house believes that England, Britain, should not join the war” or something.

And they voted and they won.

That was not sedition.

Debate on Kashmiri separatism

So let’s have a debate.

Let’s say: How many people on this campus support separatism on Kashmir? We can have a debate.

Let’s see how many people—there are 8,000 students in JNU, apparently, according to Professor Sopory’s statement. If you go to the website—the JNU website’s figures are not updated—these are 2009 figures, they are the latest and they say around 7,000 students.

And you know that my friend here, whom I deeply respect, Kanhaiya Kumar, was elected by a little over a thousand votes. And the second person got some 600 and some odd votes. You can correct me as to the actual figures.

And you could have a real debate—I have lived on this campus for over 16 years … and my suspicion is….

[Responds to someone who says something] That’s right, but let’s poll. How many people support Kashmiri separatism?

[People shout]: No, no, not now, let’s have a proper debate, thank you.

But with due respect to you, you will see—you are far outnumbered.

Five people raised their hands.

[At this point the crowd roars and some more—a few more people from what is visible—raise their hands.]

Even so, anyhow, let’s get back to the point: I am saying, that’s another way to do it. And that’s my point.

And then there would be a legitimacy to this kind of movement.

And why not? I mean, every form of opinion should be respected. I don’t think that is the issue.

My question was that when something is authorised, what is it that authorises it?

And to me, social contract—call it Locke, call it Rousseau—is the basis of modern democracy, where people and their rulers have a contract: we vote you and you represent our will.

Left hegemonic space?

Anyhow, I will come to the end of my talk which was simply that when we consider ourselves a democratic space, we should also ask ourselves if this is entirely true.

Isn’t it possible that this is a Left hegemonic space? Well, if you disagree, you are silenced, you are boycotted, you are brow-beaten, or—or, sometimes, you are brainwashed.

[Loud shouts of No!]

I can give you so many examples. But let me just say one thing: I love JNU too. I love JNU as much as anybody else.

[Responds to some shouts that it is not about love] Love is very important [At this point Kanhaiya Kumar intervenes and counsels Paranjape not to get into a one to one with those present as it could go on, to which Paranjape agrees.]

What makes us special, I think, is that we don’t beat the people we disagree with. We can bully them but we don’t beat them. I haven’t been beaten here—as yet. We are not like other people who offer a reward and all….

Autonomy of all institutions

I stand in solidarity of all who want to protect the autonomy, not only of JNU but all educational institutions.

I stand in solidarity of those who demand due process, who believe in the institutions—not of a university, but of a country.

I stand with all of this.

But the only thing I submit to you is that even I have been a victim of a campaign of vilification. Let me tell you there have been open letters against me, and I don’t know what someone is circulating against me today—let me tell you, I have never signed a Hindi petition so far. I don’t know what it is—the entire thing is in Hindi where my name too has been added—I have not yet read it.

The only thing I want to say is this—and this is my last point. After these things happened, you know, I was walking to the department, and I saw this person on a bicycle carrying a placard: “I am not anti-national.”

And I think we are not anti-national. I agree.

And when you hear my views which are critical of what I consider Left hegemonic practices—sometimes bordering on Left dictatorial practices—I hope I don’t have to carry a sign saying, “I am not anti-JNU”.

I am like all of you.

And if you read any book of mine, I acknowledge JNU, I acknowledge my colleagues, I acknowledge my students.

And I stand here before you because I believe that this performative is also important where we discuss ideas, we uphold the right of each other to disagree and we don’t reduce all politics to sloganeering and self-complacency but interrogate our own positions.

This is what I mean by “diatopical hermeneutics” where we acknowledge the incompleteness of our own positions and go forward.

Thank you. –, 8 March 2016

» Prof Dr Makarand Paranjape is an Indian poet and professor of English at the Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi.

Kanhaiya Kumar

Kanhaiya Kumar