Satish Mohan Pandit
With the politics of intolerance in the backdrop, the JNU row has shaken the nationalist forces in the country. The JNU event in itself is unfortunate but the way Indian political class jumped into the issue and defended the event is most unfortunate, intriguing and threatening.
Our universities and other premier institutions have to play an important role in national building. These institutions have to undertake research work, build opinion to shape the destiny and uphold sovereignty and integrity of the nation. If these very institutions are allowed to be the bedrock of anti India politics, the future of India as a dynamic & sovereign country is at stake. The event of the JNU was in intention and in expression anti India and the way the political parties defended the event in the garb of “freedom of expression” and “autonomy” is condemnable. It has shown how low the political creatures can stoop to boost their vote bank politics. India as a state or civilisation doesn’t need to be lectured on the issues of “tolerance or freedom of expression” as India for centuries has not only sheltered and cradled many communities but has allowed them to grow and nurture their faith, rituals and traditions.
We have to make a distinction between “freedom of expression” and “freedom for sedition”. Freedom of expression is not an unbridled right where a person can be allowed to involve in any such activity that is aimed at striking at the roots of the national ideals and dismembering the country. The slogans raised in the Campus are reminiscent and synonymous to the slogans raised in Pakistan during Kargil war like “from liberation of Kashmir to destruction of India”. Same mentality and enmity echoed in the event.
In the backdrop of the event, I cannot resist the temptation to refer to a lesson ” Youth and the Tasks Ahead” authored by renowned scholar and politician Dr Karan Singh that is part of syllabus at Higher Secondary level in the state. The lesson is addressed to the youth of the country particularly the student community to educate them about the role they have to play in the nation building. The lesson is relevant and prophetic in the present context. He describes “the maintenance and strengthening of freedom” more onerous than its attainment. Terming the youth as vanguard who can shape the destiny of our nation Dr Karan Singh says, “In particular our young men and women studying in schools and colleges and universities have a special responsibility, for while they are no longer children they have not yet got fully involved in the routine of adult life. They constitute an immense reservoir of strength, which, if properly channelized, can prove to be a source of great power to the nation.” He is of the opinion that building up of a “vast and pulsating” democratic nation is no mean undertaking and a mere desire to serve it is not enough; it must be accompanied by the ability to achieve it. To achieve this objective, he wants the youth to be physically fit. Intellectually forward, bubbling with patriotism and spiritually elevated. Unfortunately our education policy is presently aimed at producing earning machines.
Terming those who have access to the higher education as the “privileged elite”, he wants them to “repay their debt to the society by not wasting a single moment of academic life in futile or disruptive pursuits.” He has described party politics and intrigues as the futile pursuits in this context. Ironically, politicians across the board have used these students as the means of their petty politicking and anti national elements exploited the situation for their own ends.
Most importantly, Dr Karan Singh has quoted from a speech delivered by the great nationalist leader, Sri Aurobindo Ghosh, to the students of the Bengal National College. Sri Aurobindo Ghosh says, “There are times in a nation’s history when providence places before it one work, one aim, to which everything else, however high and noble in itself, has to be sacrificed. Such a time has now arrived for our Motherland when nothing is dearer than her service, when everything else is to be directed to that end. If you will study, study for her sake, train yourselves body and mind and soul for her service. You will earn your living that you may do service to her. Work she may prosper. Suffer that she may rejoice.”
Pray our politicians understand relevance of these inspiring & prophetic words and allow and ensure that students are groomed as per the ideals of Sri Aurobindo. Universities need to be the institutions of excellence; freedom to develop opinions, institutional autonomy. But these privileges need not to come into conflict with basic ideals and sovereignty and integrity of the nation. In such conditions India as a state has right to act and Indian civilisation to react. No compromise on the issue.
Satish Mohan Pandit