Delhi’s Jawaharlal Nehru University has been in the news for all the wrong reasons in the last few years. All of it started in 2016 when a bunch of students began protesting against capital punishment meted out to the prime accused in the 2001 parliament attack case. Since then, the university has been landing in troubled waters every now and then. The JNU administration is now removing the posters that were put in and around the JNU campus. These posters gave rise to a culture of demonstration while disseminating student ideas.
The first thing which people would see on the campus was the wall posters which were flooded with revolutionary ideas demonstrating the political ideologies in support of the oppressed and unheard. The political activeness of students in the Jawaharlal Nehru University can be seen through these posters.
This is a sad time for Jawaharlal Nehru University. The identity of the university is being snatched away as and the learnings which were revealed on its walls are being torn down. The ideas and expressions which were screaming louder than the voices in these posters symbolised a culture of demonstration which formed the heart and soul of students within the campus.
I feel that the essence of the JNU campus is its posters, students making traditional hand-painted posters, making sure no money is involved to put up such ideas which help construct marginalized voices. Learning in JNU just does not only take place within classrooms but also when students are on campus and flooded with ideas of revolutionary thoughts painted across the campus.
I remember my father coming to the university campus, admiring the posters and saying that this university is a place where students are learning and expressing their ideas. The students will make a difference by just seeing the posters all around the campus. Right from the walls of schools in academic blocks to libraries to dhabas (food stalls) to hostels, each wall talks about different ideas and thoughts.
These posters formed an integral part of JNU and we cannot let it go. We might not have a very dynamic infrastructure, but I feel that the long posters with varying ideologies and expressions of the same which were on the walls made it different and much more dynamic than any other designer buildings of other universities. In JNU, ideas which are put up on the walls show the creative gems of this university.
I know things are now not the same in our country since the last few years, people have understood when to speak and what to speak and where to speak, or just be silent. This university had provided students the space to flourish, with their ideas and to learn and unlearn. The idea of debating is to agree to disagree which was taught here drawing from different ideas and ideologies. However now, with freedom of speech being threatened in our country, I would say that once can sense the same being done within the campus. Removing illustrative posters that spread awareness, criticized policies or created debates is nothing less than denying us our freedom to express, our freedom of speech.