New Delhi: Does the protest by a group of students against the proposed lecture of Baba Ramdev on the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) campus smack of hyper-elitism and anti-liberalism?
Though the lecture scheduled for 30 December has been cancelled due to non-confirmation from the yoga guru, the objection to it has stoked a controversy. It has raised questions on the university’s pro-liberal and unorthodox credentials.
Saket Bahuguna, Delhi state secretary of the ABVP, said “This move by JNU students has exposed their pseudo-Leftist ideology and hypocrisy. The same group that talks about freedom of speech, democracy and liberty has exhibited extreme form of intolerance through this action. It’s a hyper-elitist approach.”
He added: “Baba Ramdev was invited in an academic seminar by the academicians to speak on Vedanta and Ayurveda. It was not a political platform nor had it anything to do with politics. How can students stop any expert from giving a talk on a topic that the university has decided? This group of students supporting ultra-Left ideology had earlier invited Maoist supporters to deliver lectures on campus. They want to convert JNU into an island.”
The convention has been organised by the University’s Special Centre for Sanskrit Studies in collaboration with the Institute of Advanced Sciences, Dartmouth, United States, and the Centre for Indic Studies, University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth.
“Diversity of thought and expression is the core of our democracy. But for this handful of JNU students, democracy means supporting the extreme Left and radical groups. Anything non-Left and non-radical is pro-Right for them. They are Stalinist by nature and approach. Their opposing Baba Ramdev for delivering keynote address speaks of their undemocratic and Stalinist ideological approach,” remarked Prof Rakesh Sinha, honourary director, India Policy Foundation.
He added that a majority in the campus is democratic and open to discussion. But this particular group supports Naxalism and liberation of Kashmir from India. “It invited a Pakistani band and the Greenpeace activist Priya Pillai, who spoke against her own country before the Western world. Their action smells of hypocrisy. They don’t support the Left ideology we have in India, but the Stalinist ideology.”
Calling the move a “silent Right-wing onslaught” on JNU, the students have warned the university officials to withdraw their invitation to Ramdev or face protests.
“This was purely an academic programme organised by the University’s Centre for Sanskrit Studies along with University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth on Vedanta and Sanskrit. This has nothing to do with any politics or ideology. This kind of objection by the students’ union is ridiculous,” said a JNU professor, one of the organisers of the programme.
However, president of JNU Students’ Union (JNUSU), Kanhaiya Kumar clarified that the students won’t stop Ramdev from entering the University campus and deliver lecture; but it would undertake “flash protest, if Ramdev speaks anything controversial”.
“JNU is known for providing a liberal democratic space to speakers and not for stifling the voice of anyone. There is a confusion regarding this issue. One group doesn’t want Ramdev’s entry, whereas the other wants it. Our stand is that unless a person is of criminal background, with anti-national credentials and controversial, we are open to all. In the past, the JNU has allowed people with questionable background in the campus.
Moreover, Ramdev despite of making controversial statements in the past on several issues, is not like the BJP MPs Sakshi Maharaj or Yogi Adityanath. Let him come and speak, but we’re told that he hasn’t received the invite from the organisers. In case he comes, delivers the lecture and if any controversial statement is made, we’ll stage on-the-spot flash protest. There is nothing deliberate or per-planned,” added Kumar.
Updated Date: Dec 29, 2015 18:45 PM