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

The Left and academic freedom – Balbir Punj

Marxist Flag

Balbir PunjThe bogey of free speech in danger is in fact a ruse to camouflage the real agenda to break India. The Communists had actively conspired with the departing British and Muslim League to vivisect the country and create a theocratic Pakistan. The Left has no faith in India or her democratic Constitution which mirrors the pluralistic Hindu ethos of this ancient land. – Balbur Punj

In the context of what is happening in many universities across the country, let the true upholders of academic freedom come forward to separate the wheat from the chaff.

The first thing is that violence has no place in academia. Issues have to be debated, sometimes with lot of passion. Ideological positions are quite natural, but the right to have a strong ideological stand cannot be exclusive.

The word “democratic” is being used in our country (and elsewhere too) with abundance. Our self-styled Leftist professors are seen to be admirers of such “people’s democratic” regimes like North Korea. This is simply misteaching because instead of teaching using established facts, they seek to substitute ideology for facts.

Tons of events are held in our colleges to unleash this pollution.

The problem in our academia is when someone questions this misteaching, the Left lets lose goonda raj on the honest enquirer and silences him. When increasingly large numbers of students (and teachers) begin to question substitution of facts with ideological views, left-wing goondaism claims it is being subjected to violence.

Take Delhi University itself for instance. Was it a mere coincidence that, say in the Economics Department, in the 60s, 70s and 80s, most of the leading teaching staff were of a Left-socialist ideology that eulogised planned economy, public sector ownership of most resources and industries and all other Marxist viewpoints?

There was hardly anyone who questioned basic Marxian thinking because all other viewpoints were suppressed. This despite the fact that Communist China under Deng Xiaoping had begun to eagerly turn to capitalism, even allowing Western capitalist enterprises on its soil, to lift Mao’s country from the mess left by the Cultural Revolution of Marxism-Leninism-Maoism.

Much the same story is seen in history teaching across the country. The lineup of Leftist professors like Irfan Habib at AMU and Romila Thapar in Delhi ensured that any learned man with a different view of history was debarred.  Doctoral theses were scanned to ensure that no other approach to Indian history prevailed in the Indian academia.

For 35 years, West Bengal was under a Marxist regime.  The academic freedom people enjoyed there is well known. Those Congress leaders who are so eager to support the Left in JNU, in Hyderabad, Jadavpur and elsewhere should recall how Naxalite student leaders had established a goonda rule in Kolkata. It was Congress leader Siddhartha Shankar Ray who sought to break this circle of violence with a counter violence under the leadership of the Congress organisation Chhatra Parishad. This is not to suggest that violence against the Left-Marxist combine is justified.

Unlike others, Marxists and Communists are committed to violence as their theory urges a proletarian dictatorship.  Marx, Lenin, Mao, Che Guevara and all other stars of the Left led through violence and the ultras who have set up their own regimes in parts of Chhattisgarh, Odisha and Jharkhand  as well as in Andhra Pradesh are seeking to overthrow elected governments across the country through armed violence.

Even as the much-criticised ABVP is not willing to take the Leftist dictatorship over the Indian academia lying down and is trying to break the Left stranglehold in Delhi, a continuing battle is being fought elsewhere too. As in Bengal, in Kerala, the Leftist students union, the SFI, recently displayed its brutal intolerance against the Kerala Students Union in Law College, Trichur.  SFI activists came in a large group, got into the college classrooms even as teaching was in progress. Reports say that even teachers who sought to intervene to prevent this attack were injured. They further say the police, though immediately informed, deliberately took their own time to intervene. Kerala has a Marxist-led State government now.

There could also be intense debate whether Delhi’s policies in militancy and terror-ridden Kashmir or Manipur are right or not. But that is not the issue here. There is the foreign angle here as militancy and terror are being openly sponsored and funded with weapons supplied by a third party—Pakistan.

Can any country allow domestic groups to endorse and even hero-worship such foreign-funded and armed militants and expect to survive as a nation?  The battle is surely not for “freedom of expression”. India has a long tradition of free debate. Barring the dark period of Indira Gandhi’s emergency, Indians have enjoyed uninterrupted freedom of expression since Independence.

The bogey of free speech in danger is in fact a ruse to camouflage the real agenda to break India. The Communists had actively conspired with the departing British and Muslim League to vivisect the country and create a theocratic Pakistan. The Left has no faith in India or her democratic Constitution which mirrors the pluralistic Hindu ethos of this ancient land.

During the Second World War, the Communists collaborated with the British against freedom fighters and spied on them. After they left, the Communists waged an armed war against the newly-born Indian Republic.

When China attacked India in 1962, the Communists sided with the enemy, their ideological kin, and tried to sabotage the internal security of the country. In contrast, RSS volunteers rendered yeoman service at that time of national crisis. The then Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru had invited the RSS to join the 1963 Republic Day Parade in Delhi to recognise its contribution.

India has since come a long way. And with time, the Left has also changed its slogans and strategies. But its divisive agenda remains unchanged. – The New Indian Express, 4 March 2017

» Balbir Punj is a former Rajya Sabha member and Delhi-based commentator on social and political issues. Email: punjbalbir@gmail.com

Marxist Intellectuals

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

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

 

Indian media’s double standards – Balbir Punj

Indian Media

Balbir Punj“Manhandling of a political activist is national news for days together. Hacking to death of an RSS worker hardly finds a place in the media. Why? Is it because the victim of beating in Delhi belonged to the CPI and the one in Kerala to the RSS? The CPI worker was suspected of shouting slogans seeking ‘Bharat Ki Barbadi’ and the RSS man hacked to pieces was guilty of saying ‘Bharat Mata Ki Jai.’” – Balbir Punj

Bias in the Indian mainstream media.In the last four days, the media went overboard pressing all the juice out of the incidents in JNU and Hyderabad universities. It seemed that the media itself was involved and partisan between the contending forces in the  controversies that have wrecked these institutions in particular and the student communities in general. Look at the media coverage of violence happening on the two sides of the political divide. For instance, in the JNU incidents, we saw media going to great lengths about attacks on Leftist students by the security forces and in the clashes between the two sides among the students.

The reports in the media on the events that happened in the Patiala House courts were extensive, with most publications putting on the front page a BJP MLA beating up a Communist activist. But the highlighted portion was the lawyer who claimed that he was a BJP worker beating up some journalists. There can be no two opinions that journalists covering any event need to be looked at as neutral observers reporting to the people what was happening. Even if some people feel that media persons were partisan in their reports, that is no excuse for them to beat up the Press. The persons dressed as lawyers beating up the media people wholesale is condemnable and need to be acted upon by the police that should have actively intervened to protect the journos.

Well, by that same token, the media also must play by fairness in its reporting. The reports and display should conform to a value system that puts fairness beyond political predilections. Violence is one thing that the media can highlight without preferences as it undermines the very basis of settling differences through discussions and compromises.

RSS Murder VictimBut the role of the media, while covering recent incidents of violence on the part of political activists, has been so unfair, that it can be termed only as disgusting. On Tuesday last, TV channel screens and front pages of most of the ‘national dailies’ were full of details and visuals of a BJP MLA beating up a left activist. There was all round uproar and statements galore condemning the incident. A day earlier, 27-year-old Sujith was hacked to death in front of his parents by about 10 men, alleged to be CPM workers. The gang did not spare even the aged parents of Sujith.

His father Janardhanan and mother Sulochana, both daily wage workers, suffered injuries when they tried to save their son. His elder brother was also injured in the attack. The brutality of the recent attack on Sujith reminds one of the daylight murder of BJP State Yuva Morcha Vice-President K. T. Jayakrishnan, a primary school teacher. He was hacked to death, in front of his students at Panur, near Thalassery on December 1, 1999.

Now see the contrast. Manhandling of a political activist is national news for days together. Hacking to death of an RSS worker hardly finds a place in the media. Why? Is it because the victim of beating in Delhi belonged to the CPI and the one in Kerala to the RSS? The CPI worker was suspected of shouting slogans seeking ‘Bharat Ki Barbadi’ and the RSS man hacked to pieces was guilty of saying ‘Bharat Mata Ki Jai’.

Marad Murder WeaponsThe killing of a large number of RSS workers and even of Communist leaders opposed to the Marxist party line has been a day-to-day affair in both Kerala and West Bengal for a long time. In several cases, RSS workers have been attacked in their house or even in public places or in school classes in front of students. The rioting in Marad some years ago was a combined operation of both Marxists and Islamists. But the media seemingly does not highlight it. There is clear evidence of a media under leftist influence in the reporting of major violent political events.

It isn’t a mere coincidence that wherever Marxists are using high-handed means in political action, violence is seen as inevitable. In West Bengal when they were ruling continuously for 35 years, the Marxist cadres used widespread violence to threaten not only political opponents but also common people who refused to toe their line or refused to accept diktats of the Marxist district leaders. The runaway success of the Trinamool Congress in 2011 was the result of public reaction to the Marxist violence. In Kerala, particularly in North Malabar region, the Marxists used to rule the roost for decades till the RSS alone dared to challenge their hegemony. History here and across the whole century of Marxist political action is witness to the ‘justification’ of the self-appointed followers of Marx, Lenin and Mao who advocate use of violence as a weapon in their political belt. They now claim to be constitutionalists and believers in parliamentary democracy.

However, those who have to engage with them have had to suffer violence at every step. The pro-Chinese faction among them who are running a parallel state apparatus in eastern India are not the only users of firearms, sabotage and terror in their quest. The other Marxists, despite their public statements of faith in Parliamentary democracy, have left no opportunity to use violence for political purposes. The public revulsion against such violence was largely responsible for their ouster from power in two out of the three states they were in power. This makes them increasingly irrelevant to the national agenda of growth and economic and political justice.

CPI (M) IslamistAs a result, the Left is increasingly leaning towards Islamist ideology with its own cadre of violence perpetrators and loyalty to Islamist movements elsewhere. This alliance between two forces resorting to violent overthrow of the government and the Indian state, is seemingly behind the scale of reaction to the recent events in JNU and Hyderabad university.

The Jadavpur university demonstrations by leftist students supporting JNU groups that have raised pro-Afzal Guru slogans is strong evidence of Marxist cadres seeking to gain sympathy from Islamist cadres in several states like West Bengal, Kerala  and Andhra, the very states where Islamist groups are seeking new recruiters. The Marxist leaders who have come out in favour of the JNU student activists are refusing to condemn the clear pro-Afzal and anti-Indian slogans raised by the student mobs repeatedly. Now, the Jadavpur university-based mobs are also joining them with such sloganeering.

The events of recent days, which the Left took over and turned to its advantage, have praised terrorist Afzal Guru as a martyr and demanded that the Kashmir issue be raised in the proposed India-Pakistan parleys. The emergence of the Marxist-Islamist alliance is a central fact of current perspectives. The bulk of the media, particularly English one, purposely underplays the dangers posed by this alliance. – The New Indian Express, 20 February 2016

» Balbir Punj is a political commentator and Rajya Sabha member. E-mail: punjbalbir@gmail.com

RSS Murder Victim

The Sangh and Intellectualism – Ashok Chowgule

A.P.J. Abdul Kalam at RSS headquarters in Nagpur

“Not one of the people who want to associate themselves with the BJP
would be admitted within the vicinity of a detergent advertisement.”
T. K. Arun, “The BJP hype”, The Economic Times, Dec 26, 1997.
“Its phenomenal growth notwithstanding, the BJP has always lacked
acceptability in that segment of society for which BBC and the
Time magazine serve as a window to the world.”
Bhaskar Roy, “Five o’clock faces”, The Times of India, September 16, 1999.

BJPThough these two quotes name the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the sentiments they convey is intended to apply to the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and its affiliates. For decades, cut-and-paste articles have appeared, primarily from those belonging to the left spectrum of politics, which proclaim that the RSS has not produced any intellectuals of note.

The intention of these articles is not merely to state a fact—like the RSS headquarters is at Resham Bagh in Nagpur, or that it was founded in 1925 on Vijayadashmi day. If it were so, then it would merit a line in an article, and not a full one. And, even if a full article is written, it would not merit the multiple cut-and-paste articles that one has seen. You do not get to read an article on the architecture of Resham Bagh or the various buildings and offices in the compound, nor what happened on that momentous day in 1925.

The real intention is to imply that there has to be something intrinsically wrong with an organisation that is supposedly not able to produce any intellectuals. The leftists seem to start with the proposition that for an organisation to be successful and effective it has to keep on churning intellectuals. So, when they say that the Sangh has not been able to produce intellectuals, they are effectively saying that the Sangh is not a successful or an effective organisation.

The growth of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh

I think there would be a very few takers for the statement that the RSS is not successful or not effective. One could talk about the extent of having achieved this goal. I think a very large majority would give a score in excess of 80%. I do not base this number on any survey, but based on my own personal experience. Given that the RSS is going to complete 90 years of existence on this year’s Vijayadashmi day, and that it has been continuously growing and expanding, reinforces my experience.

The growth of the RSS has happened despite a continuous and vigorous opposition of the governments in power—the British during the pre-independence period, and the secular governments in the period after that. And also strong opposition from those occupying the intellectual space.  The articles about the RSS, particularly in the English language, have been written by the ones who had a deep antipathy to the organisation and its ideology. However, given the growth of the RSS, it would seem to me that these articles really did not have much impact in the minds of even the English readers in the Indian society.

Ashok ChowguleToday, the RSS has spread its activities to nearly all sections of the society. And its organisations lead in many sectors—for example the labour wing and the student wing, set up just prior to the independence.  Then there is the organisation that I am active with—Vishwa Hindu Parishad—which has been successfully able to bring the sants and swamis of the various sampradayas of the larger Hindu fold.  Ekal Vidyalay runs more than 40,000 schools in the tribal areas on the principle of one-teacher school. In the successful struggle against the Emergency of 1975-77, those who had come out in the streets were largely swayamsevaks, and they formed more than 70% of those who spent time in jail. It was the swayamsevaks, settled outside India, who formed the backbone of the Friends of India Society International, which ensured the flow of information to the world.

It runs large number of schools where value education is provided besides what is prescribed to get the qualification. It has put together the history of the development of science throughout our civilisation. It has encouraged Sanskrit and other Indian languages.  It has encouraged the temple priests to study the proper way to conduct the rituals, and also explain them to the devotees.  Such micro level work in the samaj has also been emulated by other Hindu organisations, leading to a big synergy of effort.

The RSS has also inspired hundreds of thousands of swayamsevak to undertake a large number of social service activities in various fields. My favourite is the Dr Hedgewar Hospital in Aurangabad, which is one of the larger private sector hospital in the country. In contrast to many of the other private sector hospitals, poor people can access quality medical treatment at very low rates, and sometimes without having to pay. It was started by a few medical doctors in Aurangabad, who decided to devote their lives in service to the people of India, forgoing an opportunity to earn large incomes if they had gone into private practice.

The leftist ‘intellectuals’

In contrast, I would like those who are opposed to the ideology of the RSS to let the people know what they have achieved in activities similar to where the RSS is present.  They can even list out the achievements in managing state funded institutions. And then we can have a discussion on the issue of successfulness and effectiveness.

The multitude of articles about RSS and lack of intellectualism, also implies that those opposed to the ideology have been continuously churning out what are called intellectuals.  It is necessary to understand how this was achieved. While not so openly stated in the past, there is now an admission that those opposed to the RSS were the ones who were dominating the state-funded institutions. That their appointment was on the basis of conforming to an ideology, and not on the basis of scholarship is clear in the next section.

The leftists have produced the intellectuals not by setting up their own institutes, but by capturing the state institutions, which were set up by using the money from the society.  And they did this through subterfuge, and not honestly. Once in the position of power they had little concern about being loyal to the society, and they tried to thrust their ideology on an unwilling people.

Three articles

To explain my point, I would like my reader to read the following articles by Ramchandra Guha:

I am deliberately using one person to make my case, because I have had correspondence with him in the past, and I attempted to put across to him the Sangh world-view on certain matters. And I met him once in Mumbai in a meeting lasting about two hours. Some time ago, he requested me not to send him any messages, and my messages to him has stopped. However, reading the comments on the articles that Ramachandra Guhahe has written, there seem to be sufficient number of people who are giving him perspectives that came to my mind.  (Provided, of course, he does read the comments.)

Guha’s twitter introduction says that he is a lapsed Marxist. I have not been able to find out when he lapsed, and I really do not see his writing to be any different from what a Marxist would write—though, perhaps due to the pressure from the social media, he does deviate from the party line here and there. But, he always seems to revert back.  Given the way Guha admires the Marxists that are mentioned in the article, he does not seem to have taken the necessary step to critically assess the Marxist ideology.

In one of the articles, Guha starts about how in 2004 a senior minister took a senior journalist for lunch, where the minister asked for names for the “directorship of a prestigious centre of historical research.”  No names were given, so we just have to take Guha’s word that it was a prestigious centre. Nor will we dwell much on why the views of a journalist (name unknown) were sought for the position, instead of doing a professional search. It reminds me of the phone conversations that the ex-lobbyist, Nira Radia, had with journalists like Barkha Dutt, Vir Sanghvi, Rajdeep Sardesai, etc.

What Guha says next is quite interesting—maybe amusing is the right word. His name was rejected because he wrote critically about Indira Gandhi, and that of Partha Chatterjee (a “distinguished political theorist”) met a similar fate because the latter wrote critically about Jawaharlal Nehru. Since we do not know the name of the institute, the nation has lost an opportunity to identify the Nehru-Gandhi sycophant who eventually made the grade. And an opportunity to evaluate his professional contribution to the “prestigious” centre. Maybe Guha can let the nation know. If nothing else, it would be an interesting gossip.

In another article, Guha talks about his first job as a supposed academic at the Centre for Studies in Social Sciences in Kolkata, a state funded institution. He lets out that early into the job, in an interaction with a senior colleague, the latter assumed that Guha was a Marxist. (Perhaps it was true at the time, and that Guha lapsed only some years later.) Furthermore, he clearly says that this colleague was a member of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) and he did not seem to see anything wrong that a state institution is manned with card-carrying members of the communist party.

Perhaps inadvertently, Guha lets out that “(a)t least since the time of Indira Gandhi, the Central government has sought to undermine the autonomy of institutions that promote culture and scholarship.” I do not know whether Guha wrote anything substantially about the undermining while it was happening.  What is clear is that he does not dwell on the effect of the undermining today, except to state that there was undermining. He brings it up only in context of proclaiming that the RSS’ supposed attempt to undermine the integrity of the institutions will lead to a disastrous situation. As if we are presently in a land of milk and honey, where academic freedom reigns, and high quality professional research is being undertaken.

There are many other tit-bits that we can glean from the above three articles about how the Marxists used the state funded institutions to try and thrust their ideology. He admits that the leftists were allowed to capture the state institutions where one would normally find intellectuals, and that this was done with a political objective in mind. And he also says that only fellow-travellers had any hope of being admitted in the supposedly hallow portals.

However, there is a common thread that even though it was a fact that the autonomy of the various institutes was undermined, the sycophants were actually quite competent in their field of work. Not the best perhaps, but competent nevertheless.  But the reader just has to take Guha’s word that one can be competent and sycophant at the same time. For example, if post-independent history of India is not critical of the Nehru-Gandhi family, even where there is a legitimate reason, how can the history be unbiased? Of course, hindsight is perfect vision—but a society can learn from its mistakes only when it is admitted that the mistakes are made in the first place.

At one place, Guha says: “Marxist historiography is a legitimate model of intellectual enquiry, albeit one which—with its insistence on materialist explanations—is of limited use when examining the role of culture and ideas, the influence of nature and natural processes, and the exercise of power and authority.” How is it possible that a legitimate model is of limited use when it comes to applying it to so many different strands of inquiry? Such statements, and many others, makes me to conclude that Guha comes out as a confused person, drifting all over the place, and unwilling to admit that a major mistake has happened. The articles come out as written by one who has a reasonably good command over the English language, but not so much on logic or reasoning. Of course, I read it from my lens of being a right-wing.

The intellectual space

I would, therefore, like to make a distinction between an intellectual and one who occupies the intellectual space. This space consists of academic institutions, analysts who write from popular and/or specialised publications on issues relating to a nation, journalists, etc. This intellectual space need not necessarily be the one created by the state. However, when the person occupies the space created by the state, he has an aura of independence and unbiasedness.

When a reader explicitly knows that a person’s writing is influenced by his ideology, the reader is able to sift the wheat from the chaff. He also understands that to form an informed view on a matter, he will have to read articles written by others. But, when the state institutions have been captured by the leftists, and the ideological inclinations of the people occupying the position of knowledge is not generally known, the reader has a problem. Either he will accept what he reads as unadulterated truth, or he will be in a state of confusion.

To understand the problem, let us look at the contribution of the leftists towards resolving the various problems that are faced by our nation. They have projected that within the Marxist school of thought, solutions to the issues confronted by the socially underprivileged will be found. Yet, even today one frequently hears of atrocities against the Dalits primarily by those who are classified as Other Backward Castes. They have authenticated the political programme of the appeasement of the religious leaders of the minority communities, as a legitimate tool to win elections. But the Sachar Committee has highlighted the failure of the political leadership to do anything for the economic and social progress of the poor in the Muslim community.

T. N. MadanTheir definition of secularism was exclusively in terms of opposition to the RSS ideology. When sociologists like T. N. Madan and Ashis Nandy wrote one article each questioning the practice, and inquiring whether there is true secularism, they were projected by their colleagues as having suddenly being supporters of the RSS. The former wrote, in apparent exasperation, “A couple of my critics have, however, jumped to the conclusion that, since I have reservations about secularism as presented in the prevailing discourse, I must therefore be a supporter of communalism. This is patently absurd.” (T. N. Madan, “Secularism and the Intellectuals”, Economic and Political Weekly, April 30, 1994.)

The two, and many others, were intellectually terrorised in stopping their inquiry on the lines they had proposed.  And so the project of a perverted secularism still prevails.

In the economic field, the Marxist ideology determined the policy directions that the state followed. By 1980 it was clear that these policies were a failure. However, instead of introspecting on the causes of the failure, the Hindus were blamed by the Marxists for being cussed at not using the supposedly wonderful opportunities that were provided to them. Today, the same Marxists proclaim that the growth that has been achieved by the changes instituted since 1980 has done nothing for income equality between sections of the society. They do not even think of considering to examine whether there was income equality when their policies dominated the thinking at the time.

In case of history, the Marxist starting point is that there is nothing in the history of our nation that we need to be proud of. Hence, any inquiry in our past will only lead to disappointment and so there is no profit in it. In fact, the history is presented in a form that does not conform to the national consciousness. During the 1940s, they said that India consists of many countries, following the line of the Soviets in USSR. They completely ignored the cultural unity that enabled Adi Shankaracharya to give discourse on Hindu philosophy all over the country.  Or that of Swami Vivekananda speaking, again all over the country, on the same subject after he came back from the World Parliament of Religions, held in 1893.

Arun ShourieIt is also pertinent to point out how the leftists used their positions in the various state organisations to enrich themselves. Guha accepts that the Marxists who were given positions of influence in the state run institutions went about their task in a partisan and nepotistic manner. And, as Arun Shourie pointed out in his book Eminent Historians, they also had funds coming their way without showing any results of their efforts. In fact, Shourie has clearly shown the blatant disregard that these eminent historians had to any normal rules of public funded institutions, and an attitude that would seem to indicate that it is the duty of the society to ensure that they had a luxurious lifestyle, even though the people on whose behalf they claim to be speaking live lives of misery.

But, as is said, you cannot fool all the people all the time. The RSS, through its various organisations, and through mass level contacts amongst all the classes of people, have been able to bypass those who occupied the intellectual space. And through these contacts, the RSS has been able to disabuse the minds of the people of what can only be called the brainwashing that they have been subjected to by the leftists. The tragedy for the nation is that this brainwashing was conducted by using the financial resources provided by the victims, that is the people of India.

Marxism and intellectualism

To really understand the failure of the Marxist ideology, we need to look into the history of Marxism and intellectualism. A defining feature of Marxism was that there was never been a robust discussion, amongst those who continued to identify themselves as Marxists, about the premise on which it was based. Organisational rigidity and a top-down leadership ensured that free thinking was actively discouraged.  With changing social environment, the discussions would have fine-tuned the ideology to make it relevant and dynamic. I believe it was John Maynard Keynes who said that when the data changed, he had no problem to change his views.

D. N. GhoshMarxism, right from the time it captured state power at the political level, has had a deep disdain and suspicion of those occupying the intellectual space, particularly those outside the state institutions. Lenin said: “In general, as you probably know, I am not particularly fond of intelligentsia, and our new slogan ‘eliminate illiteracy’ should by no means be taken as expressing a wish to give birth to a new intelligentsia. To ‘eliminate illiteracy’ is necessary only so that every peasant, every worker can read our decrees, orders and appeals by himself without anyone’s help. The goal is purely practical. That’s all there is to it”.  (Quoted in D. N. Ghosh, “A God that is failing”, The Times of India, December 6, 2007.)

In effect, Lenin set about creating an army of useful idiots, who, being literate, could be given space in state institutions to take the Marxist propaganda forward. And the persons occupying the intellectual space found it monetarily profitable to lend their services. This happened in countries where the opportunity to earn decent salaries were limited, and the useful idiots allowed himself to be exploited.  In the developed countries, the useful idiots were also created—here the funds used were from the society. But due to reasons of accountability, the Marxist had competition, and the same institutes also encouraged a critical study of Marxism, and alternate paradigms were also provided to the students and the society.

But, merely occupying the intellectual space really does not necessarily make one an intellectual.  There is an important characteristic that is required, the one that Ghosh, in the above referred to article, quotes Albert Camus as saying, “… the intellectual’s role will be to say that the king is naked when he is, and not to go into raptures over his imaginary trappings”. The writings of Guha would show that the Marxists who have commandeered the position of patronage in all the state funded institutions know that if they said that the king was naked, they would have to suffer the same fate as that of the intellectuals (in the true sense) who opposed Marxist leaders like Lenin and Stalin.

In every country with a Marxist government, even in West Bengal, the ones occupying the intellectual space were always under threat of the state funding drying up. If anyone wanted to say that the king is naked had examples before him about what would happen if he mustered the courage to be honest to his profession. The sad experience of dissidents like Maxim Gorky and Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn in the Soviet Union were examples of what would happen to them if they even thought of mustering courage to defy the party line. Every Marxist government has shown the same disdain for genuine intellectuals as expressed by Lenin. They thought such people would be a threat to their position of power, and so had to be controlled, if possible, or neutralised (by exile or by death) otherwise.

In China, during the time of Mao Tse Tung, anyone occupying the intellectual space showed even a hint of questioning the party line was sent to labour camps for supposed re-education. In Cambodia, thousands of intelligent people were killed merely for being intelligent.

A useful idiot can never be an intellectual, who should have the interests of the people at large so that they are free in all sense. And when the situation is going in a direction that is not desirable, they should speak out in favour of the people. They should have no fear of their own safety, nor of their own material well-being. Genuine intellectuals should be a threat to the government in power.

Do read the full Ghosh article:

He also says: “For years on end, Stalin and the top party leadership carried on this tradition, treating dissenting intelligentsia as “socially dangerous” elements.”  The dissenters in India are those who think that within the parameters of Hindutva, solutions to the nation’s problems can be located.

Lessons in logic

The first lesson in logic dwells on the following: “All the ducks that I have seen are white, therefore all ducks are white.” The second lesson dwells on what is to be done if the above person meets another who says: “All the ducks that I have seen are grey, therefore all ducks are grey.” There can be one of two reactions—to contend to the other that what he has seen are not really ducks, or to consider the possibility that ducks could have a colour other than white.  It is only when one is ideologically driven, and not logic driven, that one will straight away insist the former, rather than reassess one’s opinion and then come to the conclusion.

A true intellectual, when given the additional data, will accept his conclusion that all ducks are white does not conform to the reality. Furthermore, he will investigate if Yadav Rao Joshiducks have more colours other than white and grey. He will define the duck not on the basis of the colour, but on other characteristics, like the shape of the beak, the size of the body, the way the bird walks, whether it floats on water, etc.

The late Yadavrao Joshi, a very senior RSS pracharak of yesteryears said that whether there are intellectuals in the Sangh is for others to say. But one can definitely say that there are intelligent persons in the Sangh. One such intelligent person, Dr Keshav Hegdewar, started the RSS ninety years ago. He inspired other intelligent persons to join the RSS, and all these intelligent people have built up the RSS to what it is today. The RSS would like the people to judge them by the work that is done, and not by flaunting the education qualifications, or the name of the state funded institute that they are employed at.

The intellectual Kshatriya

Even though the intellectual space was denied to them by the machinations of the Marxists, and their political masters, the Hindus worked in their own way to keep the memory of our civilisation and spirituality alive. The Hindu samaj provided theses Intellectual Kshatriyas the financial support to maintain their body and soul together. And because these Kshatriyas were working for a civilizational cause, they did not much care for material benefits. The viewed the value of their work by the body of knowledge they imparted.

The task of those who looked at history from their own civilisational perspective was not all that difficult because this work has been going on for centuries. India is unique in the sense that those who came here from outside to conquer the land and subjugate the civilisation were not fully successful. The people may have been politically ruled by those who were ill-disposed to the philosophy and culture of the Hindus, but their control stopped at the level of the mundane issues relating to administration. The Hindus continued to control, and nurture, the civil institutions through which their history and culture was propagated through generations. And this formed the base on which the Hindus could easily build upon when they had the political freedom to do so.

The Hindu samaj provided the Kshatriyas various platforms to convey their thoughts to the people at large. In the true Hindu tradition, these platforms were not a one-way flow of information. There would be debates and there would be discussions, so that the Intellectual Kshatriya could refine their thoughts, as well keep them relevant to the needs of the time. Through such debates, Adi Shankarachrya was as much a student as he was a teacher.

The Hindus who ventured into natural sciences always found the philosophy books as important to their work as the ones in sciences. Many of them wrote treatises on Hindu philosophy with as much fluency as the ones they wrote on sciences. And they had no hesitation in accepting that the understanding of Hindu philosophy made them better scientists.

Sita Ram Goel & Ram SwarupOut of the tens of thousands of the Intellectual Kashatriyas, I would like to name two—Ram Swarup and Sita Ram Goel—to whom I am grateful for forming my own thought process and keep them rooted in the Hindu culture and history. Apart from being a historian, Goel also set up a publication house, which gave so many others to see their work in print, and so reach a larger number of people. Other Hindus have posted these works on the internet, and it has become available to tens of millions of people all over the world.  The influence spread not just to those who were born Hindus. Others who came in contact with the people of India, and who soon started to look at Hinduism with a certain amount of empathy, found these works as a basis to research in a manner that made sense.

Due to their training in pamphleteering, and thinking that language can make a good substitute for logic, the Marxists are not able to comprehend that without intellectualism a mass based organisation cannot reach the levels that the Sangh has. While emotions are very important for a mass based organisation, without a sound grounding in sensibleness, the organisation cannot sustain itself in any meaningful way. Through various programmes, the Sangh explains its world view on various issues to its swayamsevaks, who then convey it to others through their contacts. Also, through the programme of mass contacts, these views are conveyed to the people at large.

Dump Marxism!In conclusion

The swayamsevaks in general, and the Intellectual Kshatriyas in particular, will not allow the histrionics of the Marxist to distract them from going about their self-appointed tasks of keeping Hinduism not just alive but also dynamic. We know that it was the sacrifice of our ancestors that ensured the survival of our civilisation.  We will not allow this sacrifice go in vain.

» Ashok Chowgule is the Working President (External) of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad.  This article is a tribute to the intelligent people in the Sangh Parivar, the Intellectual Kshatriyas, and the hundreds of millions of Hindus who are doing their own bit for a resurgent Hinduism.

» A shorter version of this article under the title “Intellectualism And The Sangh” is available at Swarajya.