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
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
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’
Extracts from the
article by Sandeep Pandey