“You are all born to do it. Have faith in yourselves, great convictions are the mother of great deed. Onward forever! Sympathy for the poor, the downtrodden, even unto death-this is our motto. Onward brave lads! Let each one of us, pray day and night for the downtrodden millions of India who are held fast by poverty, priestcraft and tyranny-   pray day and night for them….So long as millions live in hunger and ignorance, I hold every man a traitor who having been educated at their expense, pays not the least heed to them,” – Swamy Vivekananda (Awakening India)

obediently yoursWho is an anti-national?  Who is a traitor? What is nationalism?  These questions are ringing on the ears of the country from February 9. Ever since the alleged shouting of anti-national slogan by some unidentified youths at an event in Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) made the police to press sedition charges against JNU students union leader Kanhaiya Kumar and five others. Though the definition of anti-national is not given in the Indian constitution, the law of sedition, under which JNU student leaders Kanhaiya Kumar, Umar Khalid and Anirban Bhattacharya are currently in jail is clearly mentioned under Section 124A (Sedition) of the IPC.  So what are the slogans that Kanhaiya Kumar shouted to make the Delhi police slap sedition charges on him?  Kanhaiya was indeed asking for “azadi” but it was freedom from hunger, sanghwaad, feudalism, capitalism, Brahminism and Manuism. Where did he go wrong? The answer is that he was not wrong. We were wrong. Forget the sedition charge, it was wrong even to label it as dissent.

First of all, it is not dissent but an opinion.  An honest opinion shouted as slogan by a student leader that may appeal for some as right and for some as wrong at the time being. But it is a voice that has the power to awaken the entire country. It is a voice so powerful that those who are oppressing the downtrodden, the poor holding them fast by poverty, inequality or religious divisions will fret over to debate on the topic.  

When thousands of youths are studying after spending lakhs of rupees as capitation fees in private colleges and buying out management quotas spending from the pockets of parents it took a boy named Kanhaiya Kumar to stand up to the tyranny that the country is facing today. He walked all the way from a poor family of Bihat village in Bihar’s Begusarai district, to pursue his PhD in JNU and showed the courage to shout the slogans so loud that it was not lost in the crowd. Instead it reverberated in the campus and spread to the entire nation, which eventually saved him and his Alma Mater from being branded as anti-national. 

Yes, he was fighting the same oppression, on whose claws his brother Rohit Vemula died on January 17, 2016 at his hostel room in Hyderabad Central University.  It may be a reason Rohit’s mother came all the way to Delhi, to extend her solidarity to the protesting JNU students. She also strongly rebutted the claims raised by HRD Minister Smriti Irani in connection with Rohit’s death in Parliament as ‘lies’.  Not so long ago, hundreds of students of Film and Television Institute of India, Pune country’s best film institute when faced with the same oppression, painted the guarding walls of their institute with ‘No Fear’.

For all those fellow citizens who did not understand till now why all this is happening it is simply because the youths of the country were born in a free India, where everyone have the right to articulate their thoughts which was tried to be taken away from them.  There may be difference of opinions, of views, and there may also be various ideologies. For a country to progress discussions and debates should take place which is a sign of a healthy democracy. This is exactly what students of JNU were doing. If someone had raised anti-national slogans, it is the duty of the police and government to find out who did it by using fair practices. It should be made clear in no uncertain words that India will show zero tolerance to terror and those harboruing it in the soil will be strongly dealt with.  But there is a whole lot of difference in what happened in JNU and the way it was handled by the authorities in the name of sedition.

If it all the HRD Ministry was against JNU students holding an Afzal Guru commemoration meet why it did not issue guidelines to stop the event from taking place?  Instead an institute of the stature of JNU was labeled as anti-national, which is a shame for the entire country. Those responsible to investigate the matter fairly, the Delhi police as the whole world watched became mute spectators when some goons took the law and order in their hands and thrashed Kanhaiya Kumar and journalists who were doing their duty at the Patiala House court premises. That too after Supreme Court passed an order to ensure the security to Delhi police.  The footage of the statement given by Kanhaiya Kumar in front of special team of lawyers who reached Patiala court after SC intervened is clear enough proof for people to understand as what happened.

While, a section of visual media which has the responsibility to uphold the values of fourth estate and present news in an unbiased manner chose to play with people’s emotion. A bunch of news anchors used their power of visual media to propagate utter nonsense in the name of nationality.  They should have at least shown the maturity to take into account the contribution of academic institutes and education for building the country instead of tarnishing them in a single ‘anti-national’ brush stroke. Now it has been proved after forensic test that the video footage run by a section of media was fabricated. JNU is a prestigious institute in the country where thousands of boys and girls walk in and comes out as educated men and women.  They have contributed their part in their respective fields to strengthen the ‘Idea of India’. 

By fabricating the video, whoever is behind it actually instigated the violence by pitching the countrymen against each other. By trying to play statesman and increase TRP ratings a section of media also played to the hands of those fabricated the video either knowingly or unknowingly. (Let the government and courts decide). Also they brought in the name of the soldiers, who are guarding our frontiers doing one of the greatest service to the country to channel discussions on a topic they were remotely connected to make the whole issue more ‘patriotic’, which in turn created a more complex situation.  But it is quirk of fate or will of the country that those who perpetuated the hatred, now stands exposed. The growing voice of support for the students of JNU from within the country and abroad is a testimony to it.

Kanhaiya Kumar

Expense of education

The great souls of India like Swami Vivekananda and Sri Aurobindo said India should provide proper education to its children free of cost so that it must help us manifest the infinite knowledge within.  Those running the government should invest their time and effort to achieve this aim rather than wasting their energy doing multiplications and divisions to calculate the subsidy provided to the students for their studies. Instead they should calculate the merit of our students to build the future India which can only take place with the active participation of the youth by taking them into confidence.  

Even the greatest of men who walked in this nation of India were unable to define the complete manifestation of Shakti - the feminine energy in its diverse forms. But a minister whose responsibility it was to avoid such a situation arising in the educational institutes in the first place defending her actions in JNU chose to invoke her worship for durga and her hate for Mahishasura in the temple of democracy! By bringing it in the parliament after the issue was settled inside JNU, she questioned the country’s cultural pluralism which India’s great reformers fought hard to put in place. This only strengthened the cause of the students for freedom of thought and expression.

Mann Ki Baat

The present government rose to power with a clear mandate from the people with a promise to end corruption, nepotism, poverty and unemployment which are the real stains in the country’s Swatchatha. The country’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressing his first ‘Mann Ki Baat’ programme on October 3, 2014 on Vijay Dashami day, which symbolises the triumph of Good over Evil quoted Swami Vivekananda to tell a story.  PM who chose to address his latest radio programme amidst all the turmoil his country is passing through flanked by chess champion Viswanathan Anand and cricketer Sachin Tendulkar to wish best of luck to students facing exams will no doubt remember it.

Kanhaiya Kumar

But for those who don’t know the story and for the students of JNU (about whom PM was silent) who are now standing on their own feet for a cause here is the story in PM’s words - “Vivekanandaji used to say, once a lioness was carrying her two cubs on the way and came upon a flock of sheep from a distance. She got a desire to prey upon them and started running towards the flock. Seeing her running, one of the cub too, joined her. The other cub was left behind and the lioness moved on, post preying upon the flock. One of the cub went with the lioness but the other cub was left behind, and was brought up by a mother sheep. He grew among the sheep, started speaking their language and adapted their ways of life. He used to sit, laugh and enjoy with them. The cub who went with the lioness, was a grown-up now. Once, he happened to meet his brother and was shocked to see him. He thought in his mind,” He is a lion and is playing with sheep, talking like sheep. What is wrong with him? He felt that his ego was at stake and went to talk to his brother. He said,” What are you doing, brother? You are a lion.” He gets a reply from his brother, “No, I am a sheep. I grew up with them. They have brought me up. Listen to my voice and the way I talk.” He said, “Come, I will show you, who you really are.” He took his brother to a well and told him to look in the water his own reflection, and asked him, if both of them had similar faces. “I am a lion, you, too, are a lion.” His brother’s self-esteem got awakened; he attained self-realization through this and even a lion brought up among sheep started roaring like a lion. His inner entity was awakened. Swami Vivekananda ji used to say the same. My countrymen, 125 crore Indians have indefinite strengths and capabilities. We need to understand ourselves. We need to identify our inner strengths and like Swamiji always used to say, we need to carry our self-respect, identify ourselves and move forward in life and be successful, which in turn, make our nation a winning and successful country. I believe, all our countrymen with a population of 125 crores are efficient, strong and can stand against any odds with confidence,” the PM said.

To end this on what Swamy Vivekananda said in his message to the reformers here it is, “Everyone going to be yogi, everyone going to meditate! It cannot be. The whole day mixing with the world with Karma Kanda and in the evening sitting down and blowing through your nose! Is it so easy? Should Rishis come flying through the air, because you have blown three times through the nose? Is it a joke? It is all nonsense. What is needed is Chittashuddhi, purification of the heart. And how does that come? The first of all is the worship of the Virat-of those all around us. Worship it. Worship is the exact equivalent of the Sanskrit word and no other English word will do. These are all our gods- men and animals and the first gods we have to worship are our countrymen. These we have to worship instead of being jealous of each other and fighting each other. It is most terrible Karma for which we are suffering and yet it does not open your eyes!”