Anarchists stoking campus unrest – K. G. Suresh

AISA at JNU

K. G. SureshPseudo intellectuals who have made a fortune through the liberal largesse of successive governments in the past, are finding themselves cornered today with the new regime strictly implementing academic discipline and norms. – K. G. Suresh

A planned, deliberate exercise is being undertaken by sections of frustrated, desperate and ideologically isolated faculty and students to denigrate and destabilise prestigious educational institutions, including universities, across the country. That these anarchist elements, who have enjoyed the fruits of power over the last several decades at the cost of academic discipline, accountability and standards, are becoming unnerved by the loss of their empire, is evident from the artificial protests and propaganda being unleashed from time to time ever since a new dispensation has taken over the reins at the Raisina Hill.

From Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) in the north and Film and Television Institute of India in the west, to Hyderabad University in the south and Jadavpur University in the east, these elements have been trying to foment trouble and orchestrate campaigns over flimsy issues to project the government and its appointees as anti-Dalit, anti-women and anti-minorities, in connivance with fellow travellers in the media.

The pattern is the same. The foot soldiers of an ideology, which carried out the inhuman purge in Russia, the ruthless cultural revolution in China, the ethnic cleansing in Tibet, the gross human rights violations in Siberia and Xinjiang, the suppression of democracy by crushing students under military tanks in Tiananmen Square, have become ironically the self-proclaimed champions of democracy and human rights in India.

From Gajendra Chauhan to Pahlaj Nihalani and B. B. Kumar, among others, all appointees of the present regime are portrayed as ‘mediocre’, agents of the RSS and accused of saffronisation. The spit-and-run tactics of these foreign-funded activists in the garb of academics and students include making wild, sweeping, unsubstantiated allegations the moment any effort is made to make them accountable or disciplined.

They are trying to build a new narrative—that students should be consulted before the appointment of any head of the institution, and administration should not take any decision without taking faculty into confidence, even on non-academic matters. Any effort to make them accountable, including insistence on biometric attendance, is outrightly rejected. Any attempt to get vacated their long-held positions or ineligible occupation of hostels are construed as undemocratic acts, and licence to abuse is touted as freedom of speech and expression.

These pseudo intellectuals, who have made a fortune through the liberal largesse of successive governments in the past, are finding themselves cornered today with the new regime strictly implementing academic discipline and norms.

Over the years, they had penetrated every institution thanks to undeserving patronage extended to them by their godfathers. In the process, they also ensured that those who disagreed with their world view were denied their due. Being a nationalist became the albatross around the neck of many deserving academics. Nobody talked about their freedom of thought and expression—their academic freedom. They were at the receiving end in academic appointments and promotions. The nation’s academia was dominated by a mafia, which determined their fate and pushed them into the netherworld with contempt and ruthlessness.

The current protests and propaganda are only acts of desperation by these so-called scholars who have realised that their time is over, their game is up and the golden days of their dominance over national institutions are no more. The crusade undertaken by institutions such as JNU to remove the scourge of political untouchability, discrimination and apartheid that have been pursued over the last several decades, must be appreciated by all right-thinking people and supported by the government. Only then can Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s dream of a New India be fully realised. – The New Indian Express, 16 July 2017

» K. G. Suresh is the Director General of the Indian Institute of Mass Communication in New Delhi.

AISA anti-national protest at JNU

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Video: Decolonizing the Indian Civil Services – Rajiv Malhotra

Rajiv Malhotra says,

“In this talk, I analyze the ridiculous syllabus which is still being followed in UPSC exams to select government officials in India. Young civil servants are chosen through this ultra-leftist ideology controlled by breaking India forces. There is a blatant lack of balanced perspective.

“No wonder this ideology governs the mindset of many Indian diplomats, IAS officers, tax, police and various organs of the government.

“How ridiculous that Sheldon Pollock, Ananya Vajpeyi and various other anti-India ideologues are being hoisted as intellectuals, and our youth are required to understand and quote them. This awareness must spread. Please make this video viral.

“I am also troubled that the new government has not changed the ideology built into the college-level humanities and social sciences. All the bombastic manthans and gatherings about ‘decolonizing’ are useless exercises in self-promotion by some activists.”

No room for courses on Hinduism at JNU – Prakash Nanda

Jawaharlal Nehru University Delhi

Prakash NandaNow, if JNU, one of India’s foremost universities, refuses to teach Indian culture and yoga with the logic that it would lead to promotion of Hinduism in a secular country, then where else can one study Hinduism in India, where 80 percent of the population happens to be Hindus? – Prakash Nanda 

Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) is in the news again, but this time the national media has treated the news scantily. It has not paid enough attention to the fact that those who were agitating early this year to protect their right to dissent in JNU are now the suppressors of ideas coming from others who are not their “own”. For them, the university will do or practice what they want. It is they who will decide what is to be taught and how the university should be administered. Needless to say that these “dissenters” are mostly the so-called leftists and secularists; dissent for them means that they have the exclusive right to oppose things they do not like, but they deny the same right to those who disagree with them.

Anita Singh, a JNU professor, has told DNA that she was abused and attacked inside the university campus by a group of students, instigated by the Left-dominated students union and teachers association, while she stepped out of the meeting of the university’s statutory decision-making body, the academic council (AC), late on 7 October. Abused as a “sanghi”, Singh, who is the dean, School of Law and Governance, told the paper that she earned the students’ ire because, “I had presented the proposal for introducing a disaster research programme in the university for a trans-disciplinary programme, the talks for which have been going on since 2011, and that has already been passed by five standing committees. But the JNUSU thinks that any new innovation is ‘bhagwakaran’ (saffronisation) and I was attacked as soon as I stepped out.”

Singh has spoken about the events that took place outside the AC meeting. But what happened inside the AC meeting was equally gratuitous. Here, in the name of “secularism”, the majority rejected a proposal of the University Grants Commission (UGC) of introducing three short-term courses in Indian culture and yoga. According to the UGC’s proposed draft, the course on Indian culture aimed at expounding the importance of the country’s culture as well as exploring the etymological, social, spiritual, cultural and mythological aspects and establishing Indian values in the world. “The course will contain the texts, thoughts and traditions of different cultures and include things like religious systems in Indian culture among others. Besides, it will have portions from Vedas and selections from epics and Jatakas and suggestions on readings of Hindu epics like the Ramayana,” the draft read. It was argued in the draft that Indian culture cannot be understood without the help of “Indian literature, which is generally written by sages”.

Now, if JNU, one of India’s foremost universities, refuses to teach Indian culture and yoga with the logic that it would lead to promotion of Hinduism in a secular country, then where else can one study Hinduism in India, where 80 percent of the population happens to be Hindus? And here, I came across a report in The Hindu, dated 13 July, 2013, that said that one Subadra Muthuswami, who had a Master’s degree in public health from Columbia University, hoped to pursue her interest in Hinduism when she returned to India. “Since I am in India, I decided to do research to understand why we practice rituals and rites in Hinduism. But I understand that no university offers a comprehensive course in Hinduism studies,” she told the paper.

Madras UniversitySubadra discovered that the University of Madras had programmes in Vaishnavism and Indian philosophy, but not on “Sanatan Dharma” (Hinduism) as a whole, even though the university “has separate departments for Christian and Islamic studies”. She was told by senior professors that “universities are secular places where Hinduism as a religion cannot be taught. Sources in the university said when the department wanted to offer a paper in yoga (which is also a shastra) last year, the move was opposed on the grounds that it was endorsed by a political party.”

One fails to understand that how a university that has departments on Christian and Islamic Studies considers offering a paper on yoga, let alone Hinduism, will tarnish its secular character. As a result, in India one can study Hinduism—and this was what Subadra discovered—only in private or spiritual organisations like Swami Shivananda Institute, Chinmaya Mission, Iskcon and Vedanta Academy (Mumbai).

In contrast, let us [look at] the situation abroad. I just did a Google search to find western universities offering courses on Hinduism and Indian culture. And this was what I found. The Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies is a recognised “independent centre” of Oxford University. The principal aim of the Centre is “the study of Hindu culture, religion, languages, literature, philosophy, history, arts and society, in all periods and in all parts of the world.” Cambridge University teaches Vedanta, Vyakarana and Sanskrit philosophy along with Buddhism. London’s School of Oriental and African Studies offers courses on “Indian philosophy, especially Vyākaraṇa and Mīmāṃsā, Sanskrit philology, Sanskrit scientific literature.” In fact, many British universities such as Sussex, Manchester, Leeds and Edinburgh have departments on Theology and Religious Studies that teach, among others, “Sāṅkhya and Pātañjala Yoga.” Sweden’s Stockholm University has courses on Indian Philosophy, especially “Nyāya and Buddhism.” In Brussels (Belgium), “Vrije Universiteit” (Antwerp FVG: Faculty for Comparative Study of Religions) teaches Hinduism, Buddhism, Sikhism, Jainism, Indian Philosophy, especially “Vedānta schools and Kaśmīr Śaivism.” University of Vienna (Institute of South Asian, Tibetology and Buddhist Studies) has programmes on “Sanskrit philosophy, Āyurveda and Sanskrit philology.” There are many universities and institutes in Germany that give special emphasis to Sanskrit, Indian philosophical texts and Indian religions, including “Veda, Pāli and Epics”.

Coming to the US, Concordia University has a chair in Hindu Studies that is dedicated to the interdisciplinary study of Hinduism. There is the J. Newton Rayzor Chair in Philosophy and Religious Thought at Rice University that studies Hinduism. Case Western Reserve University has a department on South Asian religions. So has also Emory University. Then there are famous professors like Wendy Doniger at the University of Chicago who has written many books on Hinduism, some of them controversial though.

Prof Wendy DonigerThe questions that emerge from the illustrated list (not exhaustive) above are this: Are these western educational institutions having departments of theology and offering courses on comparative religions communal? If not, how can the Indian institutions offering courses on Hinduism or related subjects like yoga be branded communal, that too in a country where 80 percent of the people happen to be Hindus? And thirdly, if our “secularists” consider the book on Hinduism (which has shown the religion in negative manner) by American Indologist Wendy Doniger, a Professor of “Religions” in an American university, a great scholarly work, why cannot they promote similar scholarly works in Indian universities? Is it not double standards to applaud work on Hinduism by foreign scholars in foreign universities but deny the Indian scholars to work on the same subject in Indian universities?

In fact, as the recent development in JNU has proved once again, our so-called liberals and seculars, who dominate the country’s education system, will leave no stone unturned to foil any attempt by any university in India to introduce courses on “Religions”. They will have nothing to do with the promotion of a “dead language” such as Sanskrit. Even any elective, repeat elective, course on “Vastu Sashtra” will be dismissed (as it happened in a Madhya Pradesh university some years ago) as attempts towards “saffronisation”. But minorities can pursue studies on their respective religions. As a result, what we see today is that the Muslims children learn about Islam and the Quran in madrasas and the Christian children learn the essence of Christianity and the Bible in educational institutions founded and managed by them. Under the Indian Constitution, the minorities are allowed to have their own educational institutions and the certificates or degrees thereof are recognised legally.

In contrast, the children of the majority of the Hindu community do not have such facilities. Even at the school-level, whenever there are attempts to teach the children about the Ramayana, the Mahabharata or the Gita, the “secular brigade” makes a lot of hue and cry. And ironically, all these elements, who dominate the Indian academia and media, will want books critical of Hinduism to flourish in India but they will advise against the circulation of anything that is critical of other religions.

Such are their double standards!

» FirstPost, 12 October 2016: Prakash Nanda is editor of Uday India, a national weekly, and Geopolitics a niche monthly devoted to defence, security and diplomacy. Previously he was a National Fellow at the Indian Council of Historical Research.  He has also been a Visiting Professor at Yonsei University, Seoul and FMSH, Paris.

JNU Students Union Polls

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. — Scroll.in 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. – Scroll.in, 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

JNU was never a bastion of open debate – Swapan Dasgupta

JNU

Swapan Dasgupta“Contrary to recent mythology, JNU wasn’t ever the bastion of free, open and convivial debate. There was a pre-determined view of what was acceptable and what was beyond the pale. In political terms, openness meant a dialogue that involved all the 57 varieties of Marxism … and the new fangled ‘alternative’ currents emerging from Left orphanages. In recent years, and partly as a response to bleeding hearts in Western universities, even Islamism has been accommodated under the radical roof. What has been consistently shown the door are India’s indigenous conservative traditions and their contemporary expressions.” – Swapan Dasgupta

Oxford UnionDuring the course of the acrimonious exchanges over a series of incidents that originated in Delhi’s Jawaharlal Nehru University, some commentators alluded to a controversial motion—“This House would not in any circumstances fight for King and Country”—that was passed by the Oxford Union in 1933. The argument was that universities are natural centres of heretical and unconventional views and that the authorities should not overreact.

Whether or not the Union home ministry and Delhi police were guilty of astonishing stupidity by charging an excitable student politician with sedition for hobnobbing and sharing a platform with separatists is an issue that will prompt different responses. In 1933, for example, Winston Churchill described the Oxford students who voted for the grandstanding motion as “abject, squalid, shameless and nauseating”—sentiments that many who don’t possess the same measure of erudition would echo in the case of the JNU radicals. Indeed, the reaction of British society to the Oxford poseurs was unwaveringly hostile and evidence of universities harbouring spoilt brats. Likewise, there is little doubt that had the provocative slogans championing the breakup of India been chanted in public—and not within the safe haven of the campus or, indeed, the Delhi Press Club—the street reaction would not have been couched in niceties.

Echoes of a similar town-gown divide appear to be quite evident in the furore over the sedition charges levelled against a student—not that this excuses the disgraceful behaviour of some lawyers in Delhi’s Patiala House court. But what has complicated the situation is that the political opponents of the Narendra Modi government ranging from the Congress to the Maoists have joined hands to scream fascism. The assault on the government has been complemented by the international rent-a-cause brigade that has become accustomed to circulating pious petitions on issues that range from who Indians should not vote for to the state of higher education in India.

Arnab GoswamiPart of the problem stems from the caricatured views the Indian Right and Left-Liberals have of each other, a process the civil war of journalists has added to.

In the normal course, universities should have been a forum for informed and intelligent conversations. Even if a dialogue didn’t narrow the political divide, it would have prevented demonology and the near-complete absence of social interaction and the ostracism of those who violate a consensus—Arnab Goswami is the most recent target.

To blame this ghettoisation on the Modi regime is being disingenuous. Contrary to recent mythology, JNU wasn’t ever the bastion of free, open and convivial debate. There was a pre-determined view of what was acceptable and what was beyond the pale. In political terms, openness meant a dialogue that involved all the 57 varieties of Marxism, Nehruvian and Lohiaite thought and, the new fangled ‘alternative’ currents emerging from Left orphanages. In recent years, and partly as a response to bleeding hearts in Western universities, even Islamism has been accommodated under the radical roof. What has been consistently shown the door are India’s indigenous conservative traditions and their contemporary expressions.

This exclusionary process was confirmed in a recent article upholding the ‘idea’ of JNU by an alumnus, Professor Peter DeSouza: “the liberal persuasion was not allowed the space it should have been given by the Stalinist Left. The political spectrum was wide but could have been wider. Analytical thinking was feeble and ideological camps gave protection to the less capable.” JNU reproduced itself ideologically over decades, a reason why its intellectual establishment initially thought there was nothing odd about students being associated with divisive slogans. The ‘sedition’ overkill provided an escape route from troubling questions centred on JNU’s relationship with nationhood.

Bharat MataThe ideological bubble that sustained JNU was shaken by the post-2014 political change. The exclusion of its stalwarts from the new establishment has bred insecurity and added to its determination to paint the ‘outlanders’ as cretinous, semi-educated and aesthetically suspect. This phenomenon was also in evidence last week in the post-modernist ghettos of Jadavpur University.

The ‘sedition’ stir will pass but the partition pangs of Indian academia will have to be addressed. The question of whether India is merely a geographical mass or is also blessed with sacredness will be a basis of a wider polarization.- The Times of India, 21 February 2016

Kanhaiya Kumar

 

Re-discovering Indian Psychology – Maria Wirth

Maria Wirth“Western psychology tries hard to be an objective ‘science’ and relies mainly on observation that lies outside and not on experience that is inside, thus missing what is truly relevant for a human being. It chooses to ignore consciousness or rather it has no idea that consciousness is the basis and beyond the mind. … Western psychology is still groping in the dark over the most important questions of humanity and prefers not to pose these questions. There is a huge body of psychological research, but most of it is either irrelevant or obvious.” – Maria Wirth

Sri AurobindoWhen two German magazines, Yoga Aktuell and Advaita Journal, expressed interest in a report on a conference on Indian psychology, I was convinced of the demand for the subject in the West. Off I went to Pondicherry, a union territory in southern India, to attend the conference on ‘ Yoga and Indian Approaches to Psychology’ in September-October 2002.

Pondicherry was home to Sri Aurobindo and the Mother who left behind a huge body of work on yoga and psychology. He had stated: “Yoga is nothing but practical psychology.” Sri Aurobindo’s vision of an impending change in the consciousness of humankind prompted the Indian Academy of Applied Psychology to ask Dr. Matthijs Cornelissen from the Netherlands to organise this conference. 

He has lived in the ashram for almost 30 years and values the Indian tradition. During his lectures on Sri Aurobindo’s vision of psychology in America and Europe, he noticed that there is a big demand for teachers of Indian psychology in the West. The many conference sponsors included the Indian Council of Philosophical Research and the Infinity Foundation of USA.

It drew 160 delegates from different universities and institutes from India and abroad, and over 80 papers were presented. In his keynote address, Prof Ramakrishna Rao, president of the Institute of Human Science in Vishakapatnam and former vice-chancellor of Andhra University, said: “Isn’t it ironical that there is no Indian psychology in any of our great universities?”

Dr. R.M. Matthijs CornelissenHe pointed out that out of the 1,000 colleges in Andhra Pradesh, only 20 teach psychology. He asked why psychology was in such a pitiful state and answered the question himself: “Because psychology as it is taught now appears irrelevant in the Indian condition.” It slowly dawned on me that Indian psychology is hardly taught in India, at least not at her colleges and universities. It amazed me.

Psychology in India is completely ignoring the Indian tradition in spite of the great treasures hidden in its ancient scriptures. The textbooks here are written by western authors and many teachers are trained abroad. Prof Girishwar Misra from Delhi University put it bluntly: “If you mention Freud, nobody asks questions. If you mention samadhi, everyone does.”

Prof Anand Paranjpe, who retired from Simon Frazer University in Vancouver, said he smuggled some Indian thought into his regular courses. This, he said, was tolerated and even appreciated in the West, but not in India. Thirty years ago, when he suggested including Indian thought into the curriculum, nobody supported his idea.

For him, the conference in Pondicherry was like a dream come true. Finally, professors, lecturers and students from all over India appreciate the profundity of Indian tradition and realise that it is possible to develop a scientific psychology based on this tradition, which goes far beyond western psychology.

About time, because the West has already discovered the immense potential of Indian traditions and techniques like yoga. Yoga and pranayama which concern the well-being and growth of human beings, are no doubt aspects of psychology.

Transpersonal PsychologyWesterners have also taken concepts from India’s ancient scriptures, and used them to go beyond behavioural and humanistic psychology to what is termed ‘transpersonal’ psychology and ‘transpersonal’ psychotherapy. This new movement began in the 1970s and even made inroads into the curricula of western universities.

The Indian tradition, according to Prof Anand Prakash from Delhi University, is a powerful, robust and all-encompassing system with its emphasis on consciousness as the primary reality. It offers invaluable tools for psychotherapy, education, management and social work. Prof Rao stressed that it has global relevance and can reduce the glaring and unhealthy asymmetry between outer and inner science.

Western psychology is still groping in the dark over the most important questions of humanity and prefers not to pose these questions. There is a huge body of psychological research, but most of it is either irrelevant or obvious.

This is because western psychology tries hard to be an objective ‘science’ and relies mainly on observation that lies outside and not on experience that is inside, thus missing what is truly relevant for a human being. It chooses to ignore consciousness or rather it has no idea that consciousness is the basis and beyond the mind. 

Some delegates had delved deep into the concepts of science, enabling them to counter those who demand ‘scientific’ research based on observation. They concluded that there is no such thing as ‘absolute truth’ in science. All findings that the mind and intellect can arrive at are relative, claims modern physics.

BeingIndian tradition said long ago that mind and intellect cannot know the truth, yet truth can be realised as one’s own being because it is one’s being. Several students expressed their disappointment with the present curriculum of psychology.

They chose psychology as their subject of study because they wanted to find answers to the basic questions of humanity and these questions just did not figure in the curriculum.

The disappointment was probably most acute for those who practise their tradition, because they know for sure that Indian tradition is valid. 

Dr Suneet Verma, a lecturer in Delhi University, wanted to write his first thesis on ‘personal growth in the Indian tradition’. His professor told him that ‘personal growth’ was okay, but he should leave out ‘Indian tradition’. This was in the 1980s, when the convergence between ancient Indian wisdom and modern science was the subject of conferences all over the world.

One of those conferences was organised by the International Transpersonal Association in Bombay in 1982, where a new paradigm that assumes the whole universe is an interconnected whole that ‘most probably is conscious’ (as Fritjof Capra put it) was adopted. The Indian image of Nataraj was used to illustrate this new paradigm.

Vedic RishiThe Indian rishis of old knew that the world is maya, that it is not what it seems to be, that it is an appearance of the one true consciousness. Modern science recently confirmed their vision.

That should be reason enough for psychologists to study and prove their vision of the human being and its potential for liberation. Though yoga and Indian psychology was the subject of the conference, most presentations started by quoting western scholars.

“Do we have to deconstruct western psychology first to construct Indian psychology?” a student questioned. “We cannot ignore history,” replied the lecturer. “In that case let us go back to the Vedas,” the student countered. Now what is Indian psychology?

Indian psychology encompasses the vast body of India’s wisdom that concerns the human being. Indian philosophy and Indian psychology share a framework and believe the human has enormous potential hidden in its being. Indian psychology also has the ‘technology’ to raise the consciousness of a human being.

It is “sophisticated, rich and practical”, Prof Rao pointed out, and deals with the most basic human questions, for example: Who or what is a human being? What is the purpose and goal of life? Who is an ideal human being? How can one live a happy and peaceful life? What is the cause of suffering? What is death? Has every person his own ‘battery’ or is she connected with an all-pervading power? Is there free will?

Lord Buddha: Peace comes from within, don't seek it without!The Indian tradition gives profound and intuitive insight into the human condition. It also gives practical methods to find peace, joy and love, which, it claims, are inside everyone. These qualities are aspects of one’s true self—of pure consciousness. In the Indian tradition, a person is not a separate fragment but on a deeper level one with all-a claim that is in tune with the findings of modern physics.

To find one’s true Self, and thereby dis-identify from the ego, which one mistook for one’s self, is the goal of life and is mukti-liberation. It is a change in consciousness that has vast implication for society as well. The Indian tradition not only goes beyond but is often diametrically opposed to the view held by mainstream western psychology.

For example, it says that one’s inner state determines the outer, whereas western psychology believes the outer circumstances determine one’s inner state. Indian tradition says that the fulfilment of desires would give short-term happiness, until a new desire springs up. Lasting fulfilment and joy are found by stilling the mind and diving deep within-to pure, thought-free consciousness.

Western psychology believes that a human being is his body and mind. It does not even consider the existence of pure consciousness. It is highly probable that the vision of the Indian tradition is valid and will be confirmed if proper research is done. At present, Indian psychology lies scattered in the ancient scriptures.

PatanjaliAt the conference, papers mainly discussed the view of the Bhagavad Gita and Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras. However, there is much more. For example, Kashmir Shaivism is a goldmine for psychologists. Buddhist and Sufi texts also give extraordinary insights.

It is a challenge to dive deep into the Indian tradition and come up with relevant and helpful insights for the human being and society. Further, it is necessary to find ways to prove the validity of those insights. 

Some students rued the fact that there are no textbooks ready on Indian psychology. However, Dr Cornelissen assured: “A lot is ready. Everyone has to work and find out for himself.” Prof Rao warned: “If we do not do it, westerners will do it. And they will do it badly.”

Westerners may do it badly, but Indians may also do it badly—if they do not practise what they read and preach. The psychologist has to be a mystic, Kundan Singh, a Ph.D. scholar from San Francisco, postulated. Prof V. George Mathew, director of the Integrative Psychology Institute in Thiruvananthapuram, suggested an aptitude test for psychology students, because they require a high degree of sattva.

Moreover, he suggested an evaluation of their personal growth instead of exams. If a psychologist talks about sthithaprajna as an ideal, he needs to have some idea of what equanimity under all circumstances means. If he stresses the great power of pure consciousness, he needs to be convinced of it and be able to tap it.

Jnana“Psychology is not a theory, or an intellectual gimmick. It is a verifiable truth—verifiable in oneself,” stressed Kittu Reddy, who grew up in the Aurobindo Ashram and worked as a psychologist with the army. 

The fact that several delegates, among the younger generation as well, had an inner experience of the Indian tradition, gives hope. However, to assume that every psychologist will be a mystic in the near future would be naive. The delegates were aware that given the politics in academia, it would not be easy to introduce Indian psychology into the universities’ curricula.

The ego still rules where ideally the Indian psychologist should not be ruled by his ego. Change may be slow, but it is certainly approaching. “In ten years, when Indian psychology is taught in the universities, the number of psychology students will skyrocket,” Dr Cornelissen predicted.

A ‘Pondicherry Declaration’ was passed and a committee was formed with Prof Rao, Prof Janak Pandey, head of the department of psychology of Allahabad University, Dr Cornelissen and Prof Misra on the board. It is high time Indian psychology was given its rightful place in the colleges and universities, to consider, study and verify the views of the Indian tradition.

Suppose psychological research reveals that persons who identify with their ego (the prevalent state of being today) live a life of far inferior quality than persons who truly feel the oneness of all and are not concerned with ego gratification.

Sri KrishnaSuppose the latter feel not just inner peace and joy, but their lives also flow with ease and their needs are met in an astonishing way. Suppose research confirms Krishna’s assurance that he really looks after those who surrender to him….

Would it not motivate people to forsake the ego and its false promises of happiness and discover a deeper realm of their being that truly liberates? Perhaps Dr Cornelissen referred to this when he said: “Indian psychology is a living force for the future.” – Life Positive, January 2011

» Maria Wirth came to India for a holiday after finishing her psychology studies at Hamburg University. She visited the Ardha Kumbha Mela in Haridwar in April 1980 where she met Sri Anandamayi Ma and Devaraha Baba, two renowned Hindu saints. With their blessing she continues to live in India and dive deep into India’s spiritual tradition, sharing her insights with readers through articles and books. Her articles are available on the Maria Wirth Blog