This post has been self-published on Youth Ki Awaaz by Che Pu. Just like them, anyone can publish on Youth Ki Awaaz.

The Real Reason Behind The RSS Branding JNU As A ‘Den For Anti-Nationals’

By Chepal Sherpa:

While the news rooms of corporate media houses are busy “debating” whether Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) forms the “den for anti-nationals” – as the mouthpiece of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) “Panchjanya” claims – student protesters from different universities across the country continue the #OccupyUGC movement, which has been on for almost a month. The same media which gets flabbergasted at RSS ‘s branding of JNU as ‘anti-national’ turns indifferent to the brutal lathicharge on these very students by the police. The government continues to be indifferent to the genuine demands raised by the students who have put up outside the UGC office braving the cold winter nights, protesting against the attempt at selling higher education to corporate giants by the state. Not only #OccupyUGC; the ongoing ‘Pinjra Tod’ movement against the patriarchal control of women students in hostels and PGs in Delhi; FTII students’ protest in Pune for more than a hundred and fifty days against the appointment of Gajendra Chauhan as the head; the workers’ protest in Gurgaon and adjoining areas against the inhuman conditions in the factories and dilution of labour laws by the government; protests by writers, poets, historians, academicians against the “growing intolerance” in the society have all been taking place simultaneously, in recent times.

Image source: Twitter

These movements appear to have put the the current BJP-led NDA government at the centre in a quandary. This is what makes the RSS attack on JNU’s students interesting. The RSS, which provides intellectual and organizational clout to the BJP has always considered JNU to be the fountainhead of leftist thought in the country; in its reasoning, the leftists are akin to fifth-columnists and are instigating all the protests against its protégé BJP.

It is not for the first time that JNU is being targeted and falsely branded as being “anti-national” and accused of “promoting Naxals”. We have seen the recent statement of BJP leader Subramanian Swamy in which he demanded that there should be “an Anti Narcotics Bureau office” and “BSF camp” inside JNU campus. Similarly, on 2nd June 2014, the right-leaning newspaper The Pioneer in one of its articles – “Too Serious To Be Brushed Aside” – authored by KG Suresh, made a similarly vicious attack on JNU, through its portrayal of the students’ organizations and political culture of resistance in JNU as being “separatist and anti-nationalist”. These are not exceptions, wherein certain dominant groups and governmental agents have launched a frontal attack on JNU; these attempts to tarnish JNU as a campus full of “seditious elements” remain the norm, as far as the powers-that-be are concerned.

What is the explanation to this? Why is JNU a thorn in the flesh of ruling classes and the Indian State?

JNU, A Hurdle For The Ruling Classes

It is also not out of some whim that the ruling classes and their ideologues cannot stand institutions like JNU. The logic of ‘Modinomics’ or the neo-liberal ‘development model’ including new initiatives like “Make in India” and “Digital India”, demands an absolutely smooth and hurdle-free social order so that there is no inconvenience in the proper functioning of the capitalist loot. In a third world country like India which forms a fertile ground for capitalist ventures, JNU becomes a hurdle for the ruling classes in implementing its “development” agenda which is nothing but development by dispossession. For JNU in the recent decades has become predominantly vocal against the policies and strategies of the Indian state, particularly the “neoliberal development model” initiated in the days of the Rajiv Gandhi government in (early-1980s) and formally adopted in the year 1991.

The country has witnessed massive privatization of education and higher education in particular since the last two decades, consequently making higher education expensive and unaffordable for the lower classes. JNU has remained untouched and has been able to maintain a lower living cost and relatively affordable fee structure of Rs. 256 per year when all other colleges and universities have sky-rocketing fee structures in the country. More importantly, in JNU, a democratic and liberal atmosphere has remained intact, where one can freely discuss and critique the state’s policies.

The space which has been carved out in JNU is the result of the long-standing tradition of organized left students’ movement. In short, left students’ politics has been able to resist the policies of privatization and state’s homogenizing power, and the campus has remained critical and politicized against the oppressive policies and moves of the state (for example, the recent proposal to make “Yoga Sciences” and “Vedic Culture” compulsory was put down by the Academic Council following pressure from the Students Union). Therefore, JNU has remained the target of the state and right-wing organizations.

Basically, JNU becomes a target for two things, firstly, for what it is, as an example of an alternative progressive model of university funded by the state where the students have the right to have a say over the kind of academic curriculum that can be pursued, with general democratic students’ rights, and secondly, as the source of political resistance to the policies of the state mainly serving the corporate interest and capitalists in general – through the form of an organized students’ movement. For you will find the JNU students’ union and other left-wing students’ political organizations in the streets of Delhi and other parts of the country opposing the state’s anti-people policies and maintaining a solidarity with the peoples’ movements all over the country against capitalist private appropriation of natural resources, livelihood, and for an equal and just society.

The Logic Of State Power

State power sets up the theatre for the unfolding of this game of capitalist appropriation in the form of ‘Liberalization-Privatization-Globalization’ (LPG) political-economic program, of which India is a constituent part. This is what Lenin refers to as the ‘Imperialist chain’. This entails the state power garnering from the people an absolute adherence to these polices and brutal suppression of any form of resistance which challenges this dominant logic of the state. The L-P-G program referred to as ‘globalization’ in dominant bourgeois theory can be understood as an imperialist globalization which basically hits the oppressed classes and sections of the society – women, minorities, students, working-class, farmers, oppressed nationalities etc. Moreover, the state in India has been a forceful structure implementing these policies. It needs a powerful figure like Modi and BJP to steam-roll the capitalist venture over the whole of society. But how is this realized and what are the modalities and mechanisms through which this form of rule is maintained?

In the last decade and half, governments at the centre have been run in the form of coalitions– United Progressive Alliance (UPA), led by the Congress party, and National Democratic Alliance (NDA), led by BJP which came to power in 2014.

In the incumbent government, Modi (and the important office holders from BJP) remain silent, and he maintains his image as the angel of ‘good-governance’ and ‘development’ intact, not making any kind of threatening remarks or call for action against dissenting voices and intellectual quarters of the society.

Dirty work like engaging in militant confrontation and branding of intellectuals and oppositional forces on the other hand, is left and restricted to the ‘hardcore’ Sangh factions like RSS and other organizations affiliated to it who maintain official distance from the BJP, and the party ideologues like Subramaniam Swamy known for their “hard take” on “separatists”, “anti-nationals”, “jehadis”, etc. The logic underneath being that any opposing factions or forces in the society have to be bulldozed and thereby contained. The extension of the same logic is to keep the Modi led agenda of ‘development’ unhindered. The UPA government adopted a different approach in handling what they perceived as threats to the development process and legality of the state. P. Chidambaram, the then Union Home Minister was antagonistic and confrontationist, securing for himself dual and binary functions; as a calm, logical and shrewd official spokesperson of the government’s “security apparatus” taking care of the ‘law and order’ situation, for furthering its developmental agenda. On the other hand his hard takes and real threats to “intellectuals” and “dissenting voices” protesting against the policies of the state amounted to branding and intimidation.

In UPA rule, we could find in Chidambaram a mixture of both fox and the lion integral to the logic of ‘development’. In contrast, the Modi led NDA has a slight reconfiguration of the arrangement wherein we find segments of the ruling bloc functioning relatively autonomous of each other. The inner logic of this form of autonomy of different segments of state power has to do with ensuring the efficient and smooth realization of the dominant logic of the state’s ‘developmental’ agenda.

At the helm of RSS’s attack, we might have to re-establish this fact that JNU has been the space for diverse and multiple ideas contrasting with each other. Let’s not make it a ‘meritocratic’ game proving the ‘merit’ of JNU “which has produced” leaders and bureaucrats and loyalists of the Indian state. What JNU needs today, most importantly and primarily, is to keep its fight against the very logic of ‘merit’ which has kept it so; which means not to liquidate the essence of this struggle by arguing JNU as “meritorious” and loyal to the state. The point is not to prove how “nationalist” and “secular” one is compared to RSS. Rather, the point is to claim and defend the right even to not agree with the very logic of dominant principle, be it the very doctrine of “nationalism” as an ideology or anything.

Conclusion

The attack is directed against the left students’ movement; hence, the retaliation can only be through the assertion of the essence of the politics of the students’ movement, not through the language of the institutional complex of JNU.

You must be to comment.
  1. Pranav

    You say that JNU is liberal and free thinking, then why was Yoga sciences and Vedic culture rejected? After all, in a democratic institution all view point should be respected and nurtured.
    Also this article is a must read-http://centreright.in/2013/10/building-abvp-in-jnu-the-long-struggle/#.VlMCjLSliOw
    http://www.firstpost.com/politics/whats-the-left-complaining-about-at-jnu-they-developed-a-system-and-a-strategy-to-perpetuate-intolerance-2493780.html

More from Che Pu

Similar Posts

By Atul Upadhyay

By Ritwik Trivedi

By FAUZAN ARSHAD

Wondering what to write about?

Here are some topics to get you started

Share your details to download the report.









We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

Share your details to download the report.









We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

Share your details to download the report.









We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

Sign up for the Youth Ki Awaaz Prime Ministerial Brief below