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JNU beyond the key-hole: The total perspective

As National Convenor of Canada India Foundation, Aditya Jha (centre) has played an important role in deepening Canada India trade and other relations

Aditya Jha, a Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) alumnus, has shared an article by his fellow JNU friend, Nalini Ranjan Mohanty that carries reflections of JNU – past and Present. While appreciating and admiring that Mohanty makes “sincere efforts” to write on issues that draws individuals like him to talk to him on phone and probe him further to learn and sometime try to convince him to see the other side that is not Left and Liberals, Jha underscores that in all Mohanty’s writing “Everything is bad with Modi and BJP” and it amounts to unwittingly glorifying the Left, Congress and the Congress type (Lalu, Maya, Mulayam, Mamata et al). Sometimes, Jha observes, he wonders how individuals like Mohanty forget 60 years of non-BJP rule and not remember the Communist rule of West Bengal and how opponents are treated in Kerala.

Writing in the spirit of what he (Mohanty) is saying in the attached article about the first decade and early 80s of JNU; Jha says, he wants to narrate one significant incidence that has left a tremendous positive impact on him.

We are reproducing Aditya Jha’s post from facebook:

‘I was elected in the JNUSU council as the first ABVP candidate in its history. A student council meeting was called as the news of Russian army march into Kabul was broken and the Afghan president was assassinated by the Russians upon arrival. The official line was that they came at the request of Afghan government. The SFI student leadership at JNU at that time wanted to pass a resolution congratulating Russians for helping Afghans (we all know as how bitterly Afghans fought Russians and how subsequently America got entangled). I was livid to see the blind support of Russians by SFI student leaders and wanted to put a resolution condemning Russia. But the technical glitch was that I didn’t have a Seconder to my resolution so it was denied to be put to vote (that would have deprived me to put my views to JNU students as even the defeated motions had to be published). I continued with my high pitch opinion and was not ready to stop and people were getting restless. But in a democratic tradition they did not stop me. One of the SFI lady councilors was getting very aggressive but D Raghunandan allowed me to continue speaking. Everyone was getting restless and there comes another SFI councilor to my rescue (Ashok Singh), who seconded my resolution and voted against it. That was something about JNU debate and dissent culture and the fact that I had so many friends from other student political groups with whom I would socialize.

I was constantly under verbal attack by SFI and way bit lesser by AISF. All of us were on talking terms nevertheless (in mess or at the dhaba or at some other get together). Politically active and partisan individuals had strong beliefs but it was loosely held to great extent. Debates were welcome and accepted and expected. My conclusion as why it was mostly civil environment then is one central fact that we were and could interact cutting across the brand affiliations.

The violence that was perpetrated last week in the JNU campus by masked individuals and day before in JNU server room is deplorable and the police should do a thorough investigation and the JNU administration should take strict actions on each of them irrespective of their party affiliations. Violence has no place in politics and JNU culture has never been supportive of it. Dissention and peaceful protests has to be tolerated. The opposition in India today is ready to gang up against BJP at any opportune time and it is their democratic right and needs to be countered peacefully and democratically.

I have known the top level national team of ABVP. I had the privilege of being part of the National Executive of ABVP when I was just 23 years old. I do still interact and have interactions with many important ones even in present times. I can tell you for sure that they won’t sit in the party office and plan such stupid act of going masked inside JNU campus. They are not so naive that won’t know that it is going to hurt them politically and it is also not right. I won’t completely rule out that some individuals or small group of over zealous and intolerant individuals wearing the badge of almost any party would perpetrate such criminal behaviour. Such political aberation/fault unfortunately may happen with any partisan party unless they are Naxal types whose politics is violence. It would be suicidal and inappropriate for any political group to try to shield them. When I see the tone and tenor of today’s discussions even from our time nice guys of non-BJP dispensation.. It is vitriolic bordering abusive and spewing hate. I believe the Left is finding it too difficult to digest that BJP is doing the similar leftist things of rewriting content what BJP believes and thinks is right/ controlling the various academic platforms/stacking like minded individuals in favour granting positions/joining cocktail circuit and and creating social visibility through newly found academic positions. Congress as party never cared about this aspect of elite academic craving, they just cared for political power and dynastic rule. And top it with BJP’s ultra activists, hot headed nationalists and biased liberal media anchors (that gets them visibility) have started to create a very bad brand for JNU in the mainstream India. Intellectuals like my fellow Nalini Ranjan Mohanty will never win majority voice… They are not the common minimum denominator in the democratic India. Instead of winning arm-chair debate, we have to think that why we are allowing to trash JNU brand. By slogan shouting and condemning BJP, it is not going to change. We need to draw BJP and RSS types in and then keep the pressure on through debate, discussion and more of interaction.

I am saddened that such an impressive Facebook group- the “First Decade JNUites” banned individuals who were talking things diametrically opposite and they definitely had a different point of view. We could and should have controlled the excessive behaviour but instead the Admin of the group flexed muscle and shut them out. Guess! How I would have felt and reacted if D Raghunandan not allowed me to speak in that JNUSU council meeting in 1980. He had the power and desire but he chose to value democratic tradition. Now I am in my older age, still engaged in my Technology Start-up struggle with offices in 9 countries. I have served on Canadian federal government boards, felicitated with highest honours including Order of Canada (Canada’s highest civilian honour). Have employees and partners in Muslim countries, have had Pakistani employees in Canada (by choice), donated to Muslim institutions and have set up endowments at three universities and two colleges to support 20 students every year in Canada, also with aboriginals in Canada, with Refugees in Nairobi and much more… But I would credit a lot for who I am and how I think to my days in JNU.

But if you ask me, am I in PM Modi camp and my answer would be yes. Is he the best… No. Is HE better than the REST…yes….. We should feel relieved and hopeful that India and many parts of the world are on the journey to find the BETTER. I am sure that in our lives, a better leadership and other political parties will/should come to rule. So Nalini! Criticize Modi but only your condemnation is not going to help. Say few words about hooliganism and terror in West Bengal and Kerala and rowdy and heavy political (use all the usual Marxist jargon like Facists, Human rights oppressor, enemy of Freedom of speech– all that sounds good but is nothing more than cliche) behaviour of the Left and bleeding hearts in JNU. We also need to find who else is at the receiving end of the nexus between left, extremists and destabilizing Islamists. On a lighter note, dread your days in Lalu’s Patna and pray–it was a non-BJP days of a socialist and SICKulars government.”

Finally, I have still kept the idea alive that we discussed…. that let us band together, ex-jnuites of 70s and 80s to do something different for the society than theorizing and criticizing. I will fund that initiative majorly.”


When Aditya Jha (centre) was inducted as Member of the Order of Canada, Canada’s highest Civilian honor system, at the Governor General’s Rideau Hall ceremony in 2014

Aditya Jha, a JNU alumnus, is Serial Entrepreneur & Philanthropist (Education & Entrepreneurship). He is CEO & President at DGMarket International Inc and Chairman at POA Educational Foundation. He Lives in Toronto, Ontario

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