‘Are You from JNU?’: Open Letter To Chief Economic Advisor Arvind Subramanian

Posted by Prakhar in Campus Politics, Campus Watch, Society
February 5, 2018

The last time I checked, it said that the post of the Chief Economic Advisor was nonpolitical. In my optimism, I hope it still does, sir. However, you seem to be in a quandary. As a student of Economics and someone who works with Members of Parliament (across party lines), I was quite keen to hear you speak on the Economic Survey ’18 in the press conference that you addressed; to only be left distraught and confused by a certain narrative which you alluded to. Before dwelling into the issue, let me assure you that the Economics fraternity respects you and you may find them by your side time and again. But I am hoping that this time you don’t.

Allow me to remind you of your wisdom that was oozing out, mercilessly, during a conversation between you and a journalist at a press conference held on the Economic Survey’18-

Journalist: My question is regarding jobs and demands. I think we are seeing a dearth of both of these in the economy. Does the survey have a view?

You (CEA): Did you study in JNU, my friend?

Journalist: No sir.

CEA: No, No. I am pulling your leg. The thing is that look, I think maybe you should come to my next MOOC, we can talk about demand. Look I do think that the economy is picking up. World demand is picking up. So I think now, compared to 8- 9 months ago, the case that there is less demand would be a little less compelling than before.

Instead of responding to the question which I believe was logical enough to have been answered with utmost seriousness, you attempted to equivocate and then countered with a different question, completely unrelated to the issue raised. “Did you study in JNU, my friend?”  

I was taken aback. More so with your next reply, “I am pulling your leg.”

Am I missing something? Is there a correlation between the two? Studying in JNU and pulling one’s leg. You, sir, seem to have induced a rather strong and positive correlation between the two. Is it you or is it your boss or is it the state perpetuating and building upon this banal & biased collective conscience?

Whoever it is, should realize that how erroneous and tragic it is to defame, undermine, disparage and deprecate the legacy of one of the finest institutes of this country. With this thoughtless and reckless remark of yours, do you realize that you are belittling the efforts of thousands of bright scholars and professors that JNU has ever produced?

Let me exercise my liberty of taking this to the next level. The journalist was not from JNU, but do you know the people who are from JNU? Probably, it would be difficult for your employers to run the government without the bright minds of JNU.

A country’s stability can be determined by three-four major factors which may broadly include defence advancements and security, economic development, foreign relations etc. Are you aware who is heading the Defense ministry or the policy think tank of the country, NITI Aayog? From honourable Defense Minister, Nirmala Sitharaman, Niti Ayog’s CEO Amitabh Kant, Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar to the former Deputy NSA (National Security Adviser) Arvind Gupta; JNU has blessed the country with several intellectuals from all across the field. Renowned journalist and the Ramon Magsaysay Award winner P Sainath, Eminent Economist, Abhijit Banerjee and many others have made the country proud of their achievements. They are all from JNU, Sir.

The HRD Minister released the India Rankings 2017 of National Institutional Ranking Framework in which JNU gained the second position for the excellent research work done by the students. JNU topped the National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC) ranking with an “A++” in 2017. How else would you rate an institute which has consistently performed excellently in all the spheres?

Your response may seem humorous to many, however, one cannot deny the systematic well-planned way of defaming an institution of national importance. A particular ideology is being forced on the campuses of the higher institutes of this country. To absolve you from consciously being a part of this state endorsed practice, I have a suggestion and a request to make. Don’t be scared of the erudite scholars of JNU. Of all that we know. They have only added great value to our rich diversity of knowledge. The request is, not to kill the curiosity, voices of dissent and the free will of people. More than us, our ideas are immortal and indestructible. Like a phoenix, we will resurrect every time you try to bring us down.

You know what I would have said to your question – “Are you from JNU?”

I wish I was.

With Love,

A Nonconformist.