A tank in JNU?
Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) is once again in news! However, for wrong reasons! Overwhelmed by the 'Tiranga March' during the Kargil Vijay Diwas, recently held at JNU, Vice Chancellor Jagadesh Kumar came up with what can only be described an 'interesting' way of instilling national pride and constantly reminding the university's students of the sacrifices made by the army to protect the country — he wants an army tank to be installed on the premises of the university. Incidentally, only a few days earlier, the Prime Minister's office in a similar mood advised the HRD Ministry to draw upon elements from existing military schools (Sainik Schools) to 'promote discipline, physical fitness, and a patriotic outlook'. "We will create a situation where people will love the nation. And if they don't, we will force them to love it," the VC said. To add fat to this flaming fire of forced 'nationalism', Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan claimed that the armies of no other country were undermined the way they were by some Indians and said, "JNU is always making headlines. But I am happy that under the current VC, the university has installed the Wall of Heroes and organised this Tiranga March."
Ever since Kumar took office on January 27, 2016, JNU has found itself in the news for all the wrong reasons, fairly consistently, through these 18 months, with the vice chancellor not missing from the headlines either. Only last week, a group of students, including members of the JNU Students' Union (JNUSU), staged a protest against disciplinary action taken against their classmates for alleged 'acts of activism'. The administration has issued an order stating that around 10 students would not be allowed to register for the new academic session. JNU also recently invoked a university statute to ban events at the administrative block, where most events and protests usually take place. Without explaining the rationale behind the move, the VC said, "The University functioning is governed by its statutes, regulations and rules. All sections of the university community must respect and follow them." Kumar, however, is also known for his pro-government views on political subjects. Before taking office as the JNU Vice-Chancellor, he was associated with Vijnana Bharti — an RSS wing. In March, he faced trolls on social media after he took to Twitter crediting BJP's victory in Uttar Pradesh to 'development' and 'inclusivity'. But the million-dollar question is how do tanks, large flags, chest-thumping marches, discipline-for-itself, and martyr walls help inspire nationalism and patriotism? The ideas of nationalism and patriotism had never emerged from military cantonments, the soldier's barracks, or from a General's writings. And, if the JNU VC wants tank in any case – it must be 'water tank' instead of 'Army tank'– to quench the thirst of its students!