The former professor and author talks about the evolution of JNU in his latest book: The Tribune India
Amritsar, June 19
Majha House hosted an online session with Makrand Paranjapea retired JNU professor and also author of “JNU”, a book that discusses the evolution of the university, still mired in controversy, over the years.
Makrand said the book was born out of his belief in the idea of ”spirit life”. “The book talks about the importance of debate and dissent and the role of intellectuals in society. If we go back in history, it is fascinating that Dr Radhakrishnan and former Minister of Education MC Chawla found the time, energy and resources to find JNU and the Indian Institute of Advanced Studies, so that India had just emerged from the war with Pakistan. It was quite an extraordinary achievement. He said the main purpose of these institutes is to keep deep democratic thinking alive.
“If you compare the JNU of its heyday with the current situation, the scenario is hardly different from the division we see all over the world and even in such a small unit as a family. There is the authoritarian aspect and that of quiet revolt and dissent. Originally, JNU was meant to be a revolutionary type institution, where you study, learn and work.
He lamented that things slowly changed, resulting in a closed mind. It was in 2016 that the university was “captured”, immobilized by barely 200 students. “The buildings were barricaded; political rallies were common; dissent was suppressed. I could see that the idealism of JNU had been attacked,” he shared.
Speaking about the attack on a group of students on campus on January 5, 2020, Makrand said that day marks the downfall of JNU.
“These were signs of serious and simmering discord and unrest. The blood on the asphalt was a sign of troubled times. It was time to ask who the perpetrators were, who hired the goons, and why the administration failed to get it all under control in a timely manner? ” He asked.
He said he was indeed sad that JNU, once a glorious institute, had joined the ranks of BHU, AMU, Urdu National University and others where politics and religion ruled. “Today, the JNU, instead of being a microcosm in itself, simply reflects the religious and political tension of the country. From the exalted status of an open space where debate, dissent and thought peacefully flourished and were invited, to a place where religion and politics from the left and center run rampant, JNU has indeed come a long way. . Unfortunately, everything is downhill,” he said.