If you haven’t been following the recent and disturbing changes happening in Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), 22-year-old Rahul Rajkhowa has you covered. It took him all of 3 minutes to break down the current situation in a rap song uploaded to his YouTube channel. In it, he speaks about how JNU’s Vice-Chancellor Jagadesh Kumar has managed to ‘wipe out MPhil’ in various disciplines, including those in Rajhkhowa’s own school – the School of International Studies (SIS). Of the 13 centres offering MPhil programmes at SIS, the oldest school on campus, there are now only three.
Overall intake in JNU has dropped from 1,048 in 2016 to just 130 this year, and MPhil and PhD research in many departments has completely vanished. Naturally, the move is going to affect both students and staff, but it is expected to be a massive setback for women, Dalit and other minority students. However, as the video suggests, the administration has been callous about all of this.
Rajkhowa, an MA student hailing from Assam, addresses how difficult it has become for many like him to pursue their studies, even as society continues to pile its expectations onto students. But that’s not all. He pulled no stops in the video, also rapping about the ham-handed way in which JNU’s administration handled things when in October 2016, MSc student Najeeb Ahmad went missing after an altercation with members of the right-wing Akhil Bharatiya Vidhyarthi Parishad on campus. Rajkhowa also raps about the tense and unreasonable period in February 2016 when the whole campus had been labelled as ‘anti-national’.
Given that rap music’s origins are rooted in social and political resistance, it’s only fitting that this young rapper from JNU is ‘standing up to The Man’ this way.