Skip to main content

Prominent historian Romila Thapar terms JNU arrests horrific, calls students', teachers' protests "remarkable"

JNU assistant professor Dr Rohit addressing protesters
By Our Representative
In a strong defence of protests at Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) in Delhi against police action and arrest of JNU Students Union president Kanhaiya Kumar on sedition charges, top historian Romila Thapar has said she is “delighted by the reaction” on the campus, where students and teachers came together to “defend” not just those who were arrested and also the university.
Saying that it was “really remarkable that the university came together in that fashion”, Thapar, who is professor emeritus at JNU, talking with writer Githa Hariharan in a video released by the Indian Cultural Forum, said, “It is striking at the heart of any institution that should be a viable institution in a society.”
Pointing out that no institution exists in a vacuum, Thapar said, what is happening with the institute is “horrific”, adding, all institutions “have a social context”, and if one creates “a situation where that institute is being attacked by the social context, then you are destroying both the context and the institution.”
Thapar said, “I think it was a real sense in which the teachers and students felt it was their institution. And that is extremely encouraging. It is something one is pleased about, because I have spent all my working life there.”
Sharply criticizing those who call JNU a Marxist bastion, called it a “propaganda” which was “absolute nonsense”. She added, “If you do a headcount of the number of people who declare themselves as Marxist it was a fraction, a tiny fraction.”

A different ethos

Pointing towards the new ethos JNU developed, Thapar said, even in 1970s, “in any other university, including Delhi University, you were very quiet about the fact that you were a Marxist, because then people would take it out on you in different ways. But in JNU it didn’t matter.”
She said, “I attribute this to the fact that in many of the other universities, to be a Marxist used to mean you have to be a member of the Communist party. But in JNU because we emphasized on reading so much, and the texts, you could be a philosophical Marxist without being anywhere near the Communist party.”
Thapar underlined, at JNU, the ethos of questioning was developed, where the institution took cognizance of the “historical method” in which “you question existing knowledge and you rediscover what you want to discover.”
Suggesting how this ethos took deep roots in JNU, “It goes back to the early years of JNU… Ours was among the first of the universities, which said, we will have student faculty committees, students sitting on the board of studies, we will have students sitting in the academic council.”
Pointing towards how the university asserted itself even during the emergency imposed by Indira Gandhi in 1975, Thapar said, “It was during the emergency when the police first came in to pick up people in the university. At the time, the vice chancellor actually went and saw whoever was concerned and said you can’t pick up students like this, you may have problem with politicians.”

Comments

TRENDING

Lip-service on World Environment Day vs 'watered-down' eco-safeguards

By Shankar Sharma*  Just a few days ago, the world remembered the routinely forgotten global environment on the occasion of World Environment Day, briefly though, maybe just for the day. There were reports of a few high profile ceremonies in different parts of the country, including a few in New Delhi. Prime Minister Narendra Modi reportedly asked the people of our country to plant one tree per each person as a mark of respect/ gratitude for our mothers.

'Attack on free expression': ABVP 'insults' Udaipur professor for FB post

Counterview Desk   People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL), Rajasthan, condemning what it called "insult of Professor Himanshu Pandya" by students affiliated with with the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarti Parishad (ABVP) in Udaipur, has said he was evicted from the class where he was teaching after raising "ugly slogans", forcing him to "leave the university".

A Hindu alternative to Valentine's Day? 'Shiv-Parvati was first love marriage in Universe'

By Rajiv Shah*   The other day, I was searching on Google a quote on Maha Shivratri which I wanted to send to someone, a confirmed Shiv Bhakt, quite close to me -- with an underlying message to act positively instead of being negative. On top of the search, I chanced upon an article in, imagine!, a Nashik Corporation site which offered me something very unusual. 

Pellet gun fire severely injures Dalit worker off Bangladesh border

By Kirity Roy*  This is regarding an incident of firing pellets by the Border Security Force (BSF) personnel attached with Panchadoji Border Outpost of ‘E’ Company of 90 BSF Battalion on a Schedule Caste youth of village Parmananda under Dinhata Police Station of Cooch Behar district of West Bengal. The victim was severely injured and one portion of his face became disfigured due to pellet firing by the BSF.

Moving towards sustainable development? Social, environmental implications of HCES data

By Dr Vandana Sehgal, Dr Amandeep Kaur*  Sustainable development, the high time agenda, encompasses economic, social, and environmental dimensions, aiming for a balance between all these aspects to ensure long-term well-being and prosperity for all. One of the crucial aspects of sustainable development is consumption patterns. Consumption patterns refer to the way individuals, households, and societies use resources and goods. Sustainable consumption patterns entail using resources efficiently, minimizing waste, and considering the environmental and social impacts of consumption choices.

Sanction to persecute Arundhati Roy under UAPA politically motivated: PUCL

Counterview Network  Top human rights group, People’s Union for Civil Liberties, has demanded that the authorities should immediately withdraw the prosecution against top author Arundhati Roy and Dr Sheikh Showkat Hussain, a Kashmir academic, under the " unconstitutional"  Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act  (UAPA), calling the Delhi  Lieutenant-Governor nod for the Delhi police move "politically motivated".

Heatwave in Bundelkhand: 'Inadequate attention' on impact on birds, animals

By Bharat Dogra, Reena Yadav*  While the heat wave and its many-sided adverse impacts have been widely discussed in recent times, one important aspect of heat waves has not received adequate attention and this relates to the impact on birds and animals.