Decoding the JNU debate


For last two weeks the whole country is gripped under intense debate centered on the central university of country situated in national capital Delhi called Jawharlal Nehru University.

On 9th February 2016 when a video surfaced in media showing   how a program inside the JNU campus was organized in memory of Afzal Guru who had been hanged to death after Supreme Court find him guilty of orchestrating the terror attack on Indian parliament in 2001.

The video which surfaced in media swept the whole nation with emotions and debate centered around this video in which few students found to be chanting slogans in favor of Afzal Guru and demanding the freedom for Kashmir and fighting their battle till India is broken into pieces.

The media debated this issue in depth and government acted quickly to dodge the flame of public opinion and since last two weeks the whole debate in country is revolving around the JNU and patriotism.

It took more than two weeks for me to come out with an independent opinion on this issue and decode all the aspects involved with this episode. The immediate reactions were loaded with emotions and the academic debate around this whole issue was so foggy that it was like  taking the risk   to be seen heretic to raise other than emotional  issues involved with this whole debate.

Although the debate is still intense and full of thrill, emotions and actions inside the parliament to streets but beyond these rhetoric and   emotional part there are some other issues are involved with this whole debate  which needs to be addressed as they are   an integral part of the debate.


  • This whole debate on JNU issue draws our attention on one new emerging phenomenon in politics and media and which politicians and media needs to take in account. The technological advancement in mobile and video camera has provided a tool in the hands of the common man to feel him or her more empowered and it has become almost impossible for any incident to be hidden and this new change has larger implications because any haste or unwise use of this technology can cause greater problems as videos has become so powerful weapon  where one video can  create divide between two nations, two communities and even has the potential to make irreparable damage to any individual or politician  if it used for some vested interest or revenge .

As one journalist from USA told this writer that how the relations between Police and black minorities in USA has changed after the mobiles provided an opportunity to take  snaps of ill treatment to their community and it galvanized communities and new kind of leadership and activism emerges which forced police administration and leadership to realize few things which were put under carpet earlier .  Any technology is always a unguided missile which can drop anywhere at any time and this is equally true with new easy availability for video and always restraint and wise use is required because video does not know the ideological barriers and political skirmishes it may be beneficial for one today and could prove disastrous other day to the same .


  • As it is true on every issue that nothing is beyond politics in society and it was as very much true with JNU episode also. As the suicide of Rohit Vemula in Hyderabad University provided an opportunity to take ideological lines on that issue and ideological lines were drawn in the same manner the video of JNU campus could have the potential to turn the table in the ongoing so called “ Intolerance” debate and most of the managers of the central government and people close to Prime Minister Narendra Modi were non hesitant to use this opportunity as an aggressive and pro active measure to respond the so called “ Intolerance” debate which eclipsed the last parliamentary session . These managers and advisers have strong belief that Modi is being unnecessarily targeted by liberal left elites of Capital whose citadel is JNU and like Barlin wall if it will be brought down even symbolically  this group will be defeated and prime Minister Modi may have more elbow room to push his governance agenda and create an impact on country in his tenure .


I find no fault in the strategy of  singling out the JNU but the managers and advisers did few grave mistakes in blowing this out of proportion in the way which they could not handle for a longer period and were equally  unable to differentiate the thin line between branding few students anti national and the whole institutions as whole  .

These people did the same mistake which previous UPA government did when they coined the word “ Hindu Terrorism” and “ Saffron  Terrorism”  and instead of isolating and bracketing  few organizations who could be nailed for terror activities   they polarized the whole community and these organizations played the victim  and reached to the community and told to people  look  if we will be targeted it will be the attack on the whole community.  In this whole JNU debate the managers repeated the UPA strategy and done  the same mistake which so called secular often do when they tarnish the image of the whole educational institutions run by RSS affiliate organizations for their ideological differences.

The managers of government and advisers of Prime Minister Modi had been accurate in somehow to diagnose the problem but their remedy and  solution as well as  management to reach out to this solution was filled with lacuna.


  • This JNU debate has turned into Nationalism Vs Anti Nationalism and tricolor flag has become symbol of this new debate but this whole ideological narrative has potential to create the mass hysteria for few days but it could not even sustain for few months and more fault lines among ideological family of Prime Minister Modi could emerge.

Because in this new ideological narrative  lot of  efforts need to be  invested  to replace the “Hindu nationalism”  with “Nationalism” and “Saffron flag” with “tricolor flag” . These things don’t happen in the television debates neither the ideological shift could take place merely by accusing others.

In recent political history of India there is one political example when ideological shift had taken place without losing out its core political constituency and it happened when in 2007 BSP leader Ms Mayawati forged an alliance with their ideological adversaries forward casts who were on the target of BSP for several decades and this political party grew from revenge politics but it shifted herself gradually from anti forward to “Bahujan Hitay”. To make it happen BSP reached out to her adversaries and accommodated them and  dialogue as well as  negotiations took place between these social groups and BSP was forced to shed its aggressive and abusive agenda to perceived to be more  accommodative and conciliatory so it  could  give a image makeover to party and leader as well but it does not seem to be happening with BJP in any way in near future .

The JNU debate is a watershed moment in political history of India and it is reminiscent to the fall of Barlin wall and bringing down the Babri mosque when on both occasions the ideological churning took place as former paved the way for collapse of Communism and later paved the way for rise of Hindu right politics in India.

The recent JNU debate will galvanize the left in India because more often people do the mistake when they define the Indian left as communists which is not the true picture for left in India because India in its social, economic and spiritual character is essentially not communist but mostly it is left and even right have to turn to left to broaden their base.

Those who define Indian politics in western idioms or look to it in US style of left right divide they do the irreparable damage to them and their dear ones.