RSS is the biggest threat to Democracy

Cs logo Tue, 16 May 2017

RSS is the biggest threat to Democracy

Once again the forces using terror and violence have prevailed over the culture and tradition of reason, debate and discussion. It is ‘a dark day in the history of the Indian higher educational institutions. The Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad, a, name now becoming synonymous with vandalism on academic campuses, forced the cancellation of the seminar on ‘Cultures of Protest’ organised by a Literary Society of the English Department at Ramjas College in Delhi on February 21, 2017. Umar Khalid and Shehla Rashid of Jawaharlal Nehru University fame were two of the scheduled speakers. Others included Professor ‘Bimol Akoijam, also of the JNU, and filmmaker Sanjay Kak. The ABVP was objecting to Umar Khalid as a speaker.

Why is the ABVP, the student wing of the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh, averse to engaging in an intellectual dialogue to express their different viewpoint if they think they have-anything of substance to say? Merely raising the ‘Bharai Mata ki Jai’ and ‘Vande Mantaram’ slogans does not serve the purpose. Do Umar Khalid and Shehla Rashid as citizens of this country not have the right to express their opinion” Umar Khalid was the organiser of the event on the JNU campus last year to ‘commemorate the hanging of Afzal’ Guru when a huge controversy broke out. Khalid and four others-Anirban Bhattacharya, Anant Prakash Narayan, Ashutosh Kumar and Rama Naga-were charged with sedition. Shehla Rashid, the former Vice-President of the JNU Students’ Union, was part of the student agitation demanding ‘their release. Umar Khalid is out on bail. His charge has not been proved yet. How can he be called anti-national? Is he more anti-national than Dhruv Saxena, the Bharatiya Janata Party’s Information Technology cell’s district coordinator of Bhopal recently arrested by Madhya Pradesh’s Anti-Terrorist Squad for links with the Inter State Intelligence, the Pakistani intelligence agency? Why doesn’t the ABVP protest against Dhruv Saxena was a real threat to the country? Comparatively, Umar Khalid is a harmless intellectual.

The ABVP and mainly its parent organisation, the RSS, should reflect on what they are doing. By’ curbing academic freedom they want to produce individuals who would’ be either incapable of rational thinking or afraid of expressing their opinion, both of which will fake the society intellectually backward. There is no genuine academic activity possible- without the freedom to think. With the kind of parochial thinking and the arrogance of a legacy of some superior tradition that prevails in the RSS, it can lead only to mediocrity. There will be no creation of new knowledge nor will there be any innovation. There will be no development of Science and Technology. We will continue harping on our great past and keep importing knowledge and technology from rich countries.

The RSS is causing permanent damage to the autonomy and quality of- academic institutions. They probably want, institutions’ which can produce more of their, type, who. can at best parrot statements about some vague glorious past. After all, slogans and symbols can take you only thus far and no further. The proponents of the Right-wing ideology must think whether they want to remain limited only to the exhibitionist display of knowledge or get really educated to acquire some depth in thinking.

This madness in the: name of cultural nationalism must stop. The battered professors and students of Ramjas College, who have dared to stand up to this hooliganism have exhibited rare courage which is needed to protect the right to freedom of speech and’ expression, spirit of enquiry and culture of dissentall of which are essential for the existence’ of democracy as well as for an enlightened society.

 How could we have achieved our freedom ‘without a culture of protest? All the stalwarts of the freedom struggle were engaged in dissent against the British Government. Had there been no culture of protest Mahatma Gandhi could not have given a call for boycott of British goods, could not have taken out the Dandi March or Bhagat Singh could not have undertaken a revolutionary exercise. Nor could Dr B.R. Ambedkar have been able to launch his Mahad movement for emancipation of the Dalits. There would have been no Civil Disobedience movement nor the ‘Quit India’ movement.

Extracts from the article by Sandeep Pandey