JNU Says My Name is Red

My Name is Red And I’m No Pushover

JNU Says My Name is Red

And if it were said of us that we’re almost romantics, that we are incorrigible idealists, that we think the impossible: then a thousand and one times we have to answer – ‘yes we are’
Che Guevara

Idealism, yet again, has won in JNU! Demonised, destablished, destroyed, degraded, demoralized, deconstructed, debunked and damaged, JNU, predictably, has yet again risen from the ashes of contemporary history, phoenix-like, a red star luminescent like hope shining, amidst the darkened skies blacked out by the perverse and putrid shadow of fascism.

In this beautiful, lush green landscape, where the wings of pure, eclectic desire and passion was always in synthesis with the imagined utopia of universal freedom, justice and equality, surely, the commune of Prussian-blue peacocks across the rocky Aravalli terrain of the Parthasarathy plateau and the open-air theatre — they too must be celebrating, joining the addictive slogan of ‘Inquilab Zindabad’ — with the lovely choir and chorus of their lingering, echoing, sing-song, peacock calls. Theory, once again, has found radical catharsis in praxis.

It’s truly a festival of colours in JNU once again, after a prolonged period of what used to be routinely called in its simple, hand-made, cyclo-styled pamphlets of the past – a ‘graveyard of silence’.  Undoubtedly, it is ‘resurrection time’, and a sublime omen before the 2024 Lok Sabha polls.

Elections happened in the hounded campus after four years – something unprecedented in its history. Those days it used to happen when the chilly nip in the air had just arrived, the campus would be full of lovely pre-winter flowers, and the greenish-white flowers in soft clusters of the tall Saptaparni trees would fill the atmospherics with a sublime sensuality which could drive both poets and philosophers mad!

Those days the elections would be called the ‘Great October Revolution’ – as an annual tribute to the Great Bolshevik Revolution of 1917 led by Vladimir Ilyich Lenin, the working class, the poorest, and the resilient people of Russia. The Election Commission (EC), as it is now, would be composed of students. No EVMs were ever used, and the EC was eternally non-partisan, unbiased, and provided an equal playing field to all the students’ organisations.

No outside political or extra-constitutional interference, and no vulgar exhibition of money or muscle power was allowed; all posters were hand-made by students, spaces in walls and public spaces were duly allotted to all contestants, public meetings were held peacefully at night in the hostel messes, campaigning would go on from morning till late night inside and outside classrooms, whereby the candidates would present their manifestos and arguments, no violence, unruly behaviour, abusive language or aggression was tolerated by all concerned, and the elections were conducted in the schools with great maturity, efficiency and discipline.

The counting day, which was always a nocturnal affair, marked the cathartic finale of this grand festival of democracy, when students in multiple groups would celebrate the entire night with drums, songs, slogans and collective bonhomie. Once over, the winners would take out a victory procession across the girls and boys’ hostels, shouting slogans, singing songs, making the campus resonant with a pronounced youthful fervour. The opponents and losers were all treated with dignity and respect, and differences were swallowed by all in a democratic spirit, albeit, sometimes, with a big pinch of salt!

The United Left has given a decisive drubbing to the ABVP in JNU this time, thereby sending a clear signal to the sleazeball Electoral Bonds party, flush with multi-million scam money, that ‘achche din’ finally seems to be coming in India, after the dingy days of prolonged darkness at noon. JNU might be a small campus, and just about 5,500 students voted in what was a 73 per cent turn-out, but the signals sent from there to the country, especially to students and young voters, is strong and optimistic. Indeed, with their mighty messiahs and fake guarantees, the students’ wing of the BJP, as always, lost badly.

Earlier, they had allegedly created an aggressive ruckus inside the campus, their trademark style repeatedly witnessed in Delhi University in the past, especially when they choose to violently disrupt an academic seminar, or a film show organized by students and faculty. There is a certain pattern to this predictable lumpenism which marks their compulsive behaviour! In a typical response, a massive, non-violent ‘mashaal jaloos’ was taken inside JNU by students, led by the Left.

ALSO READ: JNU Is Not Going To Crawl Or Bend

Pray, hold your own seminar and film show! Show all the Vivek Agnihotri, Anupam Kher and Kangana Ranaut films to your heart’s desire! Why do violence when an intellectually stimulating seminar or public meeting is being conducted peacefully, with a Q and A session, or a meaningful classic is being screened? If anything, go, ask one hundred questions – what stops them?

It is not a dark irony of history that they flourish and flex their muscles only when they have their party in power. Ask them to make sacrifices, face police barricades, take up burning causes of injustice or social suffering, and they will disappear into the blue.

JNU still remembers how ABVP goons, under the tacit protection of the cops, went berserk with iron rods etc., attacking hostels, teachers and students, and smashing the head of the then JNU Students’ Union president, Aishee Ghosh, her face splattered with blood. Not one of these goons were punished by their mentors in the ruling regime. And when Deepika Padukone came to a peaceful rally in the campus, and stood in silence in solidarity, she was relentlessly hounded by the stooge media.

Earlier, the onslaught started when Umar Khalid, Anirban Bhattacharya and Kanhaiya were arrested with not an iota of evidence. There was organized propaganda that this prestigious academic institution, with its students spread across the Indian and international kaleidoscope (including inside the central BJP cabinet of ministers), was a den of ‘anti-national’ activities. So much so, this demonization campaign was conducted with the brazen objective to destroy its essence and liberating character, with another stooge vice-chancellor at the helm, who left no stone unturned to destroy JNU.

And, yet, JNU has repeatedly shown that it is a shining landmark in the firmament of higher education, and the students have proved this, again and again. Thousands of youngsters continued to sit for its entrance exams despite the negative propaganda. The library is an every-day intellectual refuge for its students, sometimes till past midnight, and the canteen and rocks, its heady locations of friendship, the adventure of ideas, and creative arguments. Reading Pablo Neruda and Muktiboth outside Ganga Dhaba under the lamp-post, or debating about global politics, or the Tiananmen Square massacre of June, 1989 in Beijing, the doors of enlightenment have always had open-ended windows.

The cause of Dalits, adivasis, minorities, the poor, women’s rights, and injustice across the world, from Gaza to Ukraine, would find its resonance in JNU. Indeed, we all danced in many circles at the India Gate, when Nelson Mandela was released from prison after a long condemnation of three decades, in apartheid South Africa.

The United Left victory, therefore, is more than a signal in the current scenario of quasi-dictatorship in India. Two elected chief ministers have been put in prison. One is a tribal leader, and the other a middle-class hero across the country, who has done a lot for the poor, especially by turning government schools into fabulous symbols of modern enlightenment, among other social welfare measures. Congress funds have been frozen, once again, an unprecedented move against the main opposition party! Mamata Bannerjee’s party is facing daily raids by the agencies, latest being Mohua Moitra, who took on the PM and Adani in Parliament.

Brilliant scholars, including Umar Khalid, are languishing in prison, for protesting peacefully against the communal and anti-constitutional CAA. The Election Commission (selected by a ruling party majority) and EVMs are under a shadow of doubt. The mainstream media is shamelessly toeing the establishment line.

In this bleak scenario, the slogans reverberating in JNU, and becoming viral in the social media, with young, passionate faces refusing to succumb, marks a happy departure from the tragic twilight zone that stalks India. Surely, if idealism can win in JNU, why not then, in the rest of this beautiful and vast country?

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Javed Faridi
Javed Faridi
22 days ago

Superb summing up of JNU contribution in political and social awakening.

Vidya nidhi Chhabra
Vidya nidhi Chhabra
22 days ago

I am celebrating too

Rajeev Khanna
Rajeev Khanna
22 days ago

A brilliant piece

रामशरण जोशी
रामशरण जोशी
21 days ago

मज़ा आ गया। अपनी पुरानी यादों की पृष्ठभूमि के साथ वर्तमान परिदृश्य को विवेचनात्मक व चित्रात्मक शैली में रख कर अद्भुत लेखन किया है

लेखक अमित, याद रखें जेएनयू जीत में देश के उनसभी वर्गों की भी साझेदारी है जो आइडिया ऑफ इंडिया को मजबूत और स्थाई रखने केलिए संघर्षरत हैं। विजेताओं के साथ साथ लेखक को।लाल सलाम।

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