Skip to main content

JNU attack: Deepika Padukone's 'silent protest' inspires us all, says Raghuram Rajan

Deepika Padukone at JNU
Counterview Desk
Writing on the masked attack on Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) students on January 5, former Reserve Bank of India (RBI) governor Raghuram Rajan has said in a blog on his LinkedIn timeline that there is no point in blaming leaders, because, after all, “it was the citizenry” that put them into office, and “acquiesced in their divisive manifesto, which they have taken as their marching orders.”
Stating that when elite universities become battlegrounds, the accusation that the government is attempting to “suppress dissent gain substantial credibility”, Rajan, one of the top world economists who resigned from his RBI top post in 2016, says, “When a Bollywood actress registers her silent protest by meeting with the victims of the attack on JNU, even though she puts attendance at her latest movie at risk, she inspires us all to take stock of what is truly at stake.”

Text

In recent days, the news coming out of India has been worrisome. A gang of masked assailants broke into one of India’s leading universities, Jawaharlal Nehru University. They went on a rampage for hours, attacking students and faculty, entirely undisturbed by the police.
While the identities of the attackers remain unclear, what is clear is that many of the attacked were activists, and neither the government-appointed administration nor the police intervened.
And this was in a capital city where everyone is usually on high alert. When even elite universities become literal battlegrounds, accusations that the government is attempting to suppress dissent -- even if by apathy rather than design -- gain substantial credibility.
It is easy to blame our leadership. But in a democracy as proud and storied as ours, we, the public, also bear a responsibility. After all, it was the citizenry that put our leaders into office and acquiesced in their divisive manifesto, which they have taken as their marching orders.
Some of us were hopeful that they would focus on the economic agenda. Some of us agreed with their speeches, which scratched and inflamed our own prejudices. Some of us were indifferent, thinking politics was someone else’s problem. And some of us feared the consequences of being critical, as critics were ruthlessly made examples of.
At the end of the day, democracy is not merely a right, but it is also a responsibility -- a burden to be the keepers of our Republic, not merely on election day but on every day.
Fortunately, the news from India has also been elevating. When young people of diverse faiths march together, Hindus and Muslims arm-in-arm behind our national flag, rejecting artificial divides stoked by political leaders for their own gain, they show that the spirit of our constitution still burns brightly.
When officers of the administrative service resign their dream jobs because they do not believe they can serve in good faith, they are living testimony that the sacrifices made by the generations that got us freedom still inspire emulation.
Our constitution was crafted by learned men and women who had come through the horrors of a fratricidal partition and sought to create a more united future
When an Election Commissioner carries out his duties impartially despite the harassment it brings upon his family, he asserts that integrity has not been completely cowed.
When some members of the media work tirelessly to get the truth out even as their colleagues succumb to government pressure, they demonstrate what it means to be a dutiful citizen of the Republic. 
Raghuram Rajan
And when a Bollywood actress registers her silent protest by meeting with the victims of the attack on JNU, even though she puts attendance at her latest movie at risk, she inspires us all to take stock of what is truly at stake.
One has to be truly cynical to not be moved. These people show through their actions that they think truth, freedom, and justice are not merely lofty words, but ideals worth sacrificing for. It is they who are fighting today for the India that Mahatma Gandhi gave his life for.
It is they, who never marched to win freedom, but today march to preserve it, who give us hope that Rabindranath Tagore’s dream …“into that heaven of freedom, My Father, let my country awake” … will continue to be a reality.
The 26th of January marks the 70th anniversary of the day India gave itself a constitution, full of ideals and liberalism. Our constitution was not perfect, but it was crafted by learned men and women who had come through the horrors of a fratricidal partition and sought to create a more united future.
They understood that India was capable of much good, but could also unleash terrible self-destructive forces, something some of our current leaders would do well to understand. So they drafted a document that attempts to draw out the best in us in a spirit of common purpose and pride.
What better resolution for the new decade than to re-dedicate ourselves to ensuring that this spirit burns strongly in each one of us? In these troublesome times, let us work together to make India that shining example of tolerance and respect that our founders envisioned, a beacon once more for a weary world. Let that be our task for the new decade.

Comments

TRENDING

Mystery around Gujarat PSU 'transfer' of Rs 250 crore to Canadian firm Karnalyte

By AK Luke, IAS (Retd)*
While returning from a Board meeting of the Oil India Limited (OIL) in Ahmedabad some time in 2012, two officers of the Gujarat State Fertilizers and Chemicals Ltd (GSFC), Nanavaty and Patel,  saw me off at the airport. They said they were proceeding to Canada in connection with a project GSFC had entered into with a company there. As we were running late, I hastily wished them the best.

Savarkar in Ahmedabad 'declared' two-nation theory in 1937, Jinnah followed 3 years later

By Our Representative
One of the top freedom fighters whom BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi revere the most, Vinayak Damodar Savarkar, was also a great supporter of the two nation theory for India, one for Hindus another for Muslims, claims a new expose on the man who is also known to be the original proponent of the concept of Hindutva.

J&K continues to be haunted, as parts of India 'degenerate' into quasi-Kashmir situation

By Rajendran Narayanan*, Sandeep Pandey**
“Jab har saans mein bandook dikhe toh baccha kaise bekhauf rahe?” (How can a child be fearless when she sees a gun in every breath?) remarked Anwar, a gardener from Srinagar, when asked about the situation in Kashmir. On November 30, 2019, a walk through an iron gate in a quiet neighbourhood of Srinagar took us inside a public school. It was 11 am when typically every school is abuzz with activity. Not here though.

Indians have made 119 nations their ‘karma bhumi’: US-based Hindu NGO tells Rupani

Counterview Desk
In a stinging letter to Gujarat chief minister Vijay Rupani, the US-based Hindus for Human Rights (HfHR), referring to the report citing his justification for the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) – that “while Muslims can choose any one of the 150 Islamic countries in the world (for residence), India is the only country for Hindus" – has said, he should remember, Hindus have made several countries, including USA, their home.

Dalits rights meet planned on how citizenship law 'negates' Ambedkar's equality focus

By Our Representative
A Dalit rights meet has been planned at the Dalit Shakti Kendra (DSK), Sanand, Ahmedabad district, to discuss implications of the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), passed by Parliament on December 10-11, for Dalits, Adivasis and other marginalized sections. Announcing the decision, DSK director Martin Macwan said, the meet would take place on December 25, 2019, at 11.00 am, to commemorate the anniversary of burning of copies of Manusmriti by Dr BR Ambedkar.

What about religious persecution of Dalits, Adivasis, asks anti-CAA meet off Ahmedabad

By Rajiv Shah
A well-attended Dalit rights meet under the banner “14 Pe Charcha” (discussion on Article 14 of the Indian Constitution), alluding to Prime Minister Narendra Modi well-known campaign phrase of the 2014 Parliamentary elections, “chai pe charcha” (discussion over cup of tea), organized off Ahmedabad, has resolved on Wednesday to hold a 14 kilometres-long rally on April 14 to oppose the controversial Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), enacted on December 10-11.

Upendra Baxi on foolish excellence, Indian judges and Consitutional cockroaches

By Rajiv Shah
In a controversial assertion, top legal expert Upendra Baxi has sought to question India's Constitution makers for neglecting human rights and social justice. Addressing an elite audience in Ahmedabad, Prof Baxi said, the constitutional idea of India enunciated by the Constituent Assembly tried to resolve four key conflicting concepts: governance, development, rights and justice.

Tata Mundra's possible closure? Power ministry's 'pressure tactic' on consumer states

By Bharat Patel*
Tata power has announced to the Union Ministry of Power that Tata Power may be forced to stop operating  its imported coal-based Mundra Ultra-Mega Power Project (UMPP) after February, 2020. It is not only unfortunate but also criminal that irreversible damage has been caused to the fragile ecosystem of Mundra coast for a project that will have a running life of only seven years.

Population control? 10% Indian couples want to delay next pregnancy, but fail

Counterview Desk
Shireen Jejeebhoy, director at Aksha Centre for Equity and Wellbeing, previously senior associate at the Population Council, India, argues that the debate on the country's population was fuelled by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Independence Day address to the nation, where he drew attention to “concern” about the challenges posed by this ‘exploding’ population growth, needs to centre around the promotion of rights and education, instead of the language of explosion and the threat of coercion that this term implies.