On Tuesday (February 22, 2017), a literary event organised by Delhi’s Ramjas College was stalled after protests by the members of the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) over extending an invite to Umar Khalid. Umar Khalid came to limelight last year when he organised a protest to mark the death anniversary of Afzal Guru, the convict in the Parliament-attack case.
This time the ABVP members locked the seminar room of the college while students and teachers were still inside. Allegations of violence were also raised.
The recent attacks on students and teachers in the academic institutions shows the growing trend of violent behaviour which is fast-emerging in college campuses across the country. First it was Hyderabad University, then Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) – and now, it has also reached the footsteps of Delhi University.
The larger question here is how can one justify such violent and unruly behaviour. The academic institutions, which are supposed to teach its students principles of equality, liberty, fraternity, non-violence and tolerance, have themselves turned into battlegrounds for warring ideologies.
Differences of opinion will always exist in a democracy, but there should also be space for free debate and discussion without any hooliganism. Everywhere, students are fighting over ‘nationalist’ ideologies and the concepts of ‘nation’ and ‘nationalism’. Before creating any ruckus, they should understand their own concepts of ‘nation’ and ‘nationalism’ and ask themselves what would be the main elements that would comprise their notion of a ‘nation-state’. More importantly, they should ask themselves whether they are going to achieve this aim with such displays of unruly behaviour.
Stereotypical images of a ‘nation’ are created through some symbols which favour ideas, only of the majority, and increases the consciousness about ‘nation’ and ‘nationalism’. In a democracy, however, minorities should also be provided similar avenues and equal opportunities to express their opinions. Our academic institutions should teach its students to respect everyone’s view, despite the vast differences between individual viewpoints.
India is a land of many great leaders and preachers who have always shown the paths of non-violence and tolerance. The students should also imbibe them in their thoughts and practices and try to solve their problems amicably without disturbing the academic atmosphere.