tank debate in jNU: big Misunderstanding of a sacred place named ‘academy’

Posted by Azhar Sahaji
July 25, 2017

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Celebration of Kargil Vijay Divas at the JNU campus was not only meant for commemoration of the martyrdom of our soldiers, but an attempt to use their martyrdom to defeat a political ideology by force which advocates freedom of speech, free thinking and democracy. The demand for a tank to be exhibited at the JNU campus to remind students about the ‘sacrifice’ of our soldiers and revoke their ‘patriotism’, is seems to be arriving from a big mis-understanding and mis-taking of a special placed named ‘Academy’ or ‘educational institutions’ or ‘universities’. ‘Academy’ or ‘The Lyceum’ is the name of the place in Athens in Ancient Greece where Plato, Aristotle and other great masters of knowledge taught their pupils. 


This academy or educational institutions, more precisely the universities across the country are supposed to prepare its students for nation building in a sustainable and long effective way. This is twenty-first century and is no longer an age of war and pride. The world has seen how wars could great harm to the human civilization. Therefore, neither war is desirable nor the pride of a war should be displayed publicly: it only displays a faking attempt to show off a faking pride.

On July 23rd, JNU VC, Jagadesh Kumar have attended a celebration of the Kargil Vijay Divas inside the JNU campus attended by two Union Ministers Dharmendra Pradhan and external affairs minister VK Singh; retired  Major Gen. G. D. Bakshi, known for his adherence to extremist right-wing ideology; cricketer Gautam Gambhir and et al. Whereas,  Gautam Gambhir, in a rather self-claimed professorship manner expressed his wish to ‘teach’ how to respect the National Flag. The VC also wished a tank as a memorial of the Kargil War to be installed in the campus to promote ‘patriotism’ in the minds of the students.  There a huge tricolor was unfurled and Bakshi termed the incident as “victory” over JNU and soon the campuses of Jadavpur University and Hyderabad Central University will be ‘captured’. 


This is not a Victory over JNU, rather a Proud Exhibition of Ignorance 

As JNU was under target of the right wing ideologists, holding a program celebrating Kargil Vijay Divas associated to Indian Army may be seen as  ‘victory’. But victory of what over whom? Is Indian Army victorious over JNU campus?  It is necessary for Indian Army to capture university spaces? That is out of question. Both universities and army are the important institutions of a modern sovereign nation. They are like limbs of the same body and cannot go at war with each other; neither there is any need for any kind of conflict with each other.  But the present government and the ideology it is backed by, is creating a ruckus amongst its own institutions—a dangerous game amongst ourselves which will harm only India as a sovereign and Independent nation.  Since, there is no question of conflict between two institutions of a modern nation; there is no question of ‘victory’ over each other.  A piece of land may be acquired by force, but not ideology, which does not exists physically. It only exists concretely–-in the form of knowledge and transmission of knowledge which includes reading, teaching, argument and counterarguments. Therefore, the so called ‘victory’ over JNU is not only ridiculous but also a arrogant exhibition of ignorance, the powerful flux of ‘self-claimed nationalism’ on which majority of Indian mass is floating in. 


Busts or Tanks? 

Universities are the places where pupils advocate the new and innovative—both concrete and abstract. A modern piece of Tank would also be a result of long and perilous research by educated research scholars and teachers. Therefore, the producer should be valued not the production, as the production needs to be updates time and again. Who are these producers? Are not Aristotle, Plato, Dante, Newton, Nietzsche, Ramanujan, Tagore, and Gandhi? Are not they nation builders? Did they help in creating a nation? Therefore, universities should be a places where busts of Aristotle, Plato, Dante, Nietzsche, Tagore, Avicenna, Gandhi, Ramanujan are advocated and desired not army tanks.

General Bakshi, Jagadish Kumar the VC of JNU are belongs to the older generation who are expected to be more open, mature and farsighted who will act as a guidance to the new generations of Indians. But such kind of incident displays ignorance of a generation which is supposed to guide the new generation and pave the way for new learning.  The saddest point is that, if such kind representatives of older generations are acting as leaders of a university as well as the nation as a whole, where the future of India lies? Is it in complete ignorance; devoid of rationality and innovative thoughts?


Valuing Knowledge 

A civilization cannot create its own history unless it writes down its own history, otherwise, that society is subject to various kinds of interpretation and (mal)formations. Likewise, the Greeks, there are so many civilizations around the world which were more constructed and sophisticated than the Greeks. But Greece’s advocating knowledge and its huge respect for its teacher have made them not only immortal but influential in the history of world civilization. Throughout all cultures across human civilizations, teachers and educational institutions are respected and India too have had respected teachers and educational institutions.  But aggressive Hindutva ideology refused not only to respect the diversity in ideology but refused to respect knowledge and centers of knowledge and JNU is a living example of this. A university is not only made of bricks and stones; students and teachers are responsible for the reputation and success of a university. Moreover, students and teachers cannot be won with jingoistic ideology and forceful exhibition of hyper masculine nationalism. Rather, it will harm the future generation—the source of excellency. If a generation is misguided and oriented on false values, it will never contribute to the process of nation building. University campuses like JNU, JU, HCU cannot be conquered with flamboyant speeches and jingoistic rhetoric neither with an exhibition a tank. Rather the upcoming generation will deduce “inspiration” from a tank exhibited forcefully at the heat of a university—the tank will remain meaningless.


Image Source: The Indian Express 

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