यत्र नार्यस्तु पूज्यन्ते रमन्ते तत्र देवता:।
यत्रैतास्तु न पूज्यन्ते सर्वास्तत्राफला: क्रिया:ll
‘Where women are honoured divinity blossoms, where dishonoured all action become unfruitful.’
This is the teaching of our scriptures and perhaps this is what the ‘students’ of Jadavpur University need to be learn in their classrooms. The assault of democracy in an educational institute of Bengal, as shocking and shameful as it may be, is unfortunately not an aberration.
It is a part of a standard operating procedure right out of the playbook of an ideology which does not believe in – debate, discussion and free speech. It believes in imposing itself by perpetuating a certain breed of ‘intellectuals’ who knowingly mislead the youth. Quick to pick up the banners and raise slogans against the government, nation, the idea of India and against all of the things we hold dear, they have no qualms embracing, glorifying and idealising foreign despots.
Often dawning the garb of activists, human rights crusaders and intellectuals with the tag of ‘eminence’, the Marxist idea of free speech does not extend to their backyard where it is buried instead. So insecure and intolerant in their convictions, the very prospect of an individual with an alternative set of idea interacting with students sends shivers down their spine. Perhaps, this stems from a realisation that the foundation of their ideological beliefs is infested with termites and the ivory facade will soon come crumbling down.
What we saw in Jadavpur was not a protest, it was a blockade. The intent was not to merely express displeasure but deny entry through violent means. Heckling and protests while an integral part of democracy cannot be used as an instrument to subvert the rights of those who we seek to oppose. Needless to say, students at JU aren’t obligated to seek permission from ‘Urban Naxals’ before inviting any citizen, let alone a minister of the government. Unfortunately, the courtesy of free speech is not for those in disagreement. This attempt at physical blockade is somewhat reflective of the mental blockade the Left seeks to perpetuate over Indian education.
If in the land of Durga and Saraswati we cannot respect women, if colleges cannot teach our youth to respect women, then everything else that they learn is an exercise in futility. What use will their lofty degrees of social sciences serve, if the holders cannot end up as law-abiding citizens?
As gross was the misconduct of students, the behaviour of the administration was even more disparaging. With the VC pleading inaction and the police spectating in the interim, a state of chaos was purposefully perpetuated. That the holder of the highest constitutional office in the sate had to personally led a rescue and relief only reflects the gravity and simultaneous failure of public order.
As thinking individuals, we must decide the breath of national discourse we seek in our Universities – conflicting ideas being discussed and debated for each student to expand his vision and mould his thinking or a singular foreign idea being forced feed by the academic intolerant and intellectually arrogant.
The students of Bengal know better – even those who may not agree with Babul Supriyo and Agnimitra Paul. Violent reprisals cannot quell the firm nationalistic voice emerging from our educational institutions. It is time the followers of Polpot, Mao and Marx made way for believers of Vivekanand, Aurobindo and Tagore – this is the renaissance that the Bengal awaits!
Ashutosh Poddar is a heritage conservationist. He tweets at @poddar_ashutosh.