JNU is litmus test of democracy

Alexander the Great was advised not to cross the river Jhelum to make further inroads into India. The intoxicated world conqueror found the advice below his dignity. He marched on vigorously, but in no time had to retreat with his dreams shattered. Nobody has the reason to doubt that the advisors of Alexander did their job. However, every sane person has reason to doubt that the advisors of Narendra Modi did their job honestly. Were it so, Sanghi goons would not have dared to cross the Jhelum (hostel) of JNU, because JNU is not made up merely of a few thousand students. Rather, it’s a miniature India. This singular strength of JNU is enough to defeat any force, howsoever strong and seemingly world-conquering.

The urge to dominate among fascist organisations is strong. The Sangh Parivar is passing through a crucial stage of its life. It wants to conquer everything outside and inside India. However, there are severe restrictions on the use of hard power outside the country. Hence, manipulating soft power outside the country remains the only option to quench its thirst to conquer. Modi’s frequent, incessant and often unnecessary foreign tours are nothing but an outlet for that nagging urge to conquer. Inside India, there are fewer limitations on the use of hard power for the Sanghis. Hence, we often see frequent acts of hooliganism to subdue opponents. JNU has been known always for its culture of dissent, debate and discussion. It represents a free atmosphere where almost everything can be questioned and debated peacefully. It’s a homogeneous entity encompassing the heterogeneity of Indian society and culture. For all these reasons, JNU is both loved and hated: loved by democratic Indians who believe in “unity in diversity” and hated by fascists who have a craze for dominating a monolithic India of their imagination.

The recent row in JNU is not new. It was bound to happen. Rather, it’s strange that it took around two years to happen. It’s a natural extension of the fascist urge to conquer and dominate the democratic plurality of India and to fuse it into a homogenous entity of its particularistic worldview.  JNU being the foremost challenge in this regard and a symbol and fort of democratic and plural India, is under siege.

The row has far-reaching implications for the whole society. Victory for either side will decide the future course of our society. If the fascists win, the democratic and plural character of Indian society will come under crippling pressure; if the JNU wins, the democratic and plural character of Indian society will continue to flourish. The decision is ours: whether we want to be on the side of democracy and pluralism or on the side of dictatorship and fascism. Let’s make an informed and wise decision. We may have to pay the price for a wrong decision for years to come.

Shamsur Rab Khan