*India and the Fear of Democracy

 

Recent events at Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), India’s premier university, are an ominous sign of the Modi Government’s relentless assault upon democracy.  The arrest, around ten days ago, of Kanhaiya Kumar, a graduate student at JNU who serves as the JNU Students Union President, on charges of sedition and criminal conspiracy under Sec. 124A of the Indian Penal Code has been roundly condemned all over India.  If convicted under this colonial-era legislation, Kumar could in principle receive a sentence of life imprisonment.  The campus of this venerable institution, whose alumni feature prominently in the political, social, and intellectual life of the country, was turned for several days into a fortress with armed police at every corner.  Widespread demonstrations by faculty and students at the police crackdown led to suspension of classes and campus life remains seriously disrupted at this time.

kanhaiyaKumarBeingArrested

JNUSU President, Kanhaiya Kumar, Being Arrested by the Delhi Police.

It is not the first time that Indian democracy has been put under severe stress, but this is surely one of the gravest tests to which the country is being subjected since an emergency was imposed by then Prime Minister Mrs. Indira Gandhi for 21 months commencing in mid-1975.  The present chain of events was set in motion when some students at JNU decided to hold a protest meeting on February 9 to mark the third anniversary of the hanging of Afzal Guru, a Kashmiri militant who was founded guilty of the attack upon the Indian Parliament in 2001 and handed a death sentence by Indian courts. Afzal Guru’s conviction was always under a cloud of suspicion.  In its 2003 judgment, the Delhi High Court implied that Guru had been tried by the court of popular opinion and found guilty, and that the court was obligated to follow “the collective conscience of the society.” The JNU students are not the only ones who have termed the hanging of Afzal Guru, carried out in Delhi’s Tihar Jail in secret, a “judicial killing”.

ProtestsByJNUStudents

Sitting in Dharna: Protests by JNU students on February 18.

At JNU’s student-organized protest, however, a number of participants were also heard chanting slogans calling for the destruction and fragmentation of India.  The campus, as is widely known, is a hotbed of politics; in recent elections for the Student Union’s post of President, the candidate representing the student organization linked to the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which flaunts its Hindu nationalist credentials, lost to the left-affiliated student organization to which Kanhaiya Kumar belongs.  Acting upon a complaint that the JNU campus was being used to stage “anti-national” activities, the Home Minister, Rajnath Singh, issued a statement warning that “if anyone raises anti-India slogans, tries to raise questions on the country’s integrity, they will not be spared.  Strongest possible action will be taken against them.”  Within hours of the Home Minister’s pronouncement, the Delhi Police had swung into action and taken Kumar into custody.

Over-reach and lunacy, strong as these words are, do not begin to describe the tyranny that is being unleashed by a government that fears democracy.  The law on “sedition” was framed by the colonial state to repress and silence Indian nationalists, and none other than Mohandas Gandhi was put on trial in 1922 on the charge of “bringing or attempting to bring into hatred or contempt or exciting or attempting to excite disaffection towards His Majesty’s Government by law in British India.”  Sec. 124A, as Gandhi noted ironically, was the prince of the legislative masterstrokes by which the British government sought to contain Indian nationalism.  The state in independent India has trotted out this obscene and obsolete piece of legislation from time to time to punish dissenters.  However, as the Indian Supreme Court has noted on more than one occasion, speech cannot be deemed seditious unless it is accompanied by violence, or incitement to violence.

Kanhaiya Kumar has denied that he was chanting the incendiary slogans calling for India’s destruction and thus far those engaging in sloganeering have not been identified.  Indeed, it is now reasonably certain that the videos which purport to capture the sloganeering were themselves doctored.  Be that as it may, what is most germane about Kanhiaya Kumar is that he has always openly stated that calls for India’s ruin and the fragmentation of the country must be unequivocally repudiated.  Kumar has also been captured on video making a fiery yet eloquent extempore speech where he swears by India’s constitution and denounces the attempt by the Hindu nationalists in power to impose their worldview upon all Indians.

KanhaiyaKumar

The oratory of Kanhaiya Kumar

 

His speech, a striking display of rhetorical skills, is a ringing critique of upper-caste domination and the oppression of the poor.  It is his unsparing indictment of the present government, rather than any so-called “anti-national” activities, that has brought down the power of the state upon him.  It is a reflection of the pathetic composition of this government that Smriti Irani, the Minister of Human Resource Development, a former actress who has barely finished high school, has under her charge the subject of education.  Since the government is incapable of an intellectual or reasoned response to criticism, it wields the power of the stick.  That has been the timeless way of bullies.

There is but no question that a battle is looming large between an inept and tyrannical government and those elements within civil society who are deeply committed to the idea of India as an ecumenical democracy that has a long way to go in enabling every Indian to lead an unimpeded life of dignity.  It is also worthy of note that those who are describing JNU as a bastion of Maoist politics, or a breeding ground for terrorists, and who have now branded a young man from one of India’s poorest regions as a sedition-monger, hail from political organizations that contributed not an iota to India’s own freedom struggle.  Many of the present government’s highest-level ministers and functionaries are lifelong members of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Singh (RSS), a paramilitary organization staunchly wedded to the idea of India as a Hindu state.  The RSS was implicated in the conspiracy that led to the assassination of Gandhi on 30 January 1948 and the organization was at once banned.  It is their narrow, provincial, and bigoted conception of Indian society that Kumar has contested and his implicit call to join the struggle must be heeded if Indian democracy is not only to survive but thrive.

 

41 thoughts on “*India and the Fear of Democracy

  1. Hello, respected sir!
    I have always considered you an authentic source on the issues of polity and political history of India.
    I have followed your almost all the courses on the Indian history and polity which helped me immensely to understand the country better. I’m debited to you for that.
    I completely agree whatever you said here and it’s very sad to know that an innocent person is arrested on the charge of sedition just because he has raised his voice against some sections of the society which are really a hindrance to the progress of this country.
    and any rational person who has listened to the speech by kanhaiya will not see an iota of the seditious intentions. the is the most unfortunate thing that can happen in a democracy.

    and if we talk about the slogans chanted on teh campus, don’t you think that some of them are quite objectionable though not anti-national like ” bharat ki barbaadi tak jang rhegi” and ” afzal tumhare katil jinda hain and hein sharminda hein”?
    and what do you think made people to chant slaogans like these?

    Thanks for the post!!

    Like

    • Hello Vikram,
      Yes, of course I agree with you that the slogans that were chanted were objectionable. Whatever
      my own difficulties with India, and with the idea of the nation-state at large, I think, to use
      a cliche, that a red line was crossed here. However, this does not excuse us from understanding the
      insidious logic of the nation-state and the problems of nationalism. Patriotism may be a virtue,
      but lack of patriotism is not a vice. And in any case Kanhaiya Kumar was not implicated in the
      sloganeering at all.
      Best, Vinay

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I hear the words of Rajaji ringing in my ears. To paraphrase India’s last governor-general and one of modern India’s most learned men: “Sure, India will become independent, but will it be able to govern itself?” Nearly 70 years after azadi, and having tried every possible political combination of governance short of martial law, Hindustan confronts the same question.

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    • Hi Ajay,
      Not too long after independence, I think it was around two decades later, the American political scientist Selig Harrison wrote a book on India and “the dangerous decades” ahead. India has long thought to be
      ungovernable; but the country manages to move along. I think we have to dispense with this idea that
      Hindustan poses some special problems in governance; yes, of course, in some respects it does, but we’re
      doing a heck of a lot better than we were under the British. It’s easy to underestimate what has been achieved; some of the political institutions may look like a joke, but our political institutions still have a longevity which is nearly unheard of among countries that were once under colonial rule. “Governance” is, notwithstanding what they think in the US, not simply a matter of managerial elites telling us what to do.
      Cheers, Vinay

      Like

  3. Sorry, but I couldn’t resist this little nugget on Indian governance, which popped in just now on my Facebook feed:

    A rich man can be a prime minister,
    Was proven by Jawaharlal Nehru
    A poor man can be prime minister,
    Was proven by Lal Bahadur Shastri
    An old man can be prime minister,
    Was proven by Morarji Desai
    A lady can be prime minister,
    Was proven by Indira Gandhi
    A Villager can be prime minister,
    Was proven by Chaudhary Charan Singh
    A pilot can be prime minister,
    Was proven by Rajiv Gandhi
    A man from a royal family can be prime minister,
    Was proven by V.P. Singh
    A scholar can be prime minister,
    Was proven by P.V. Narasimha Rao
    A poet can be prime minister,
    Was proven by Atal Behari Vajpayee
    Anybody can be prime minister,
    Was proven by H.D. Deva Gowda
    A tea seller can be prime minister,
    Was proven by Narendra Modi
    A prime minister is not at all required
    Was proven by Manmohan Singh
    The country can be ruled without being a prime minister,
    Was proven by Sonia Gandhi.

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  4. Sir I’ve seen all your YouTube videos and I respect you alot
    And I consider you a very interesting intelligent person who has great knowledge about Indian society
    But sir ek baat batao..kanaiya is from poor family. He belongs to village. Iska kya lena dena haI. Sir “go back india, bharat kii barbaadi hogi” konsa charge frame hoga aap hii batado, article 19 toh absolute nahi hai. Sir he’s involved in conspiracy according to police investigation. Baaki court will interpret the law regarding his case. Which is article 19.
    Sir I don’t agree with this argument of yours
    And bjp is democratically selected government. And every person and party has a past but I think you are confusing your self by mixing up politics and this issue
    Rest is upto you. Jai hind

    Like

    • Sorry, but Kanhaiya is involved in no “conspiracy”. He condemns, as do I, the slogans that
      were chanted calling for “Bharat ki barbadi”, etc. Those slogans are objectionable; there is no disagreement here. You’ve said that you don’t agree with my argument, but what exactly is it that you don’t agree with? You need to explain yourself much more clearly. I also reject the argument that a government that is democratically elected has the right to do anything it pleases. That’s an invitation to tyranny, plain and simple. We need not even get into such questions as whether the BJP represents everyone; it received only 31% of the popular vote, far short of even a simple majority.

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      • “All evidences unerringly point to Afzal Guru, a key conspirator, who played an active role”, the Bench said observing that by no standards his act could be termed innocuous.

        “He is definitely involved in the conspiracy to attack Parliament with the use of explosive substances,”

        While justifying the imposition of capital punishment on Guru, Justice Reddi had said the attack on Parliament was “a gravest crime of enormous severity” and was a classic case falling under the “rarest of rare” category.

        “The collective conscience of the society will be satisfied only if the death penalty is awarded to Afzal Guru,” the bench had said.

        Sir you should understand what is collective conscience all about in this case.In its 271-page judgement delivered on August 4, 2005, a division bench had said there was clinching evidence against Afzal Guru regarding his nexus with the terrorists who carried out the attack on Parliament in 2001. Clearly this is not at all a case of conspiracy or court had to follow opinions and found him guilty.

        secondly, i agree that democratically elected government that is bjp has no right to do anything it pleases, but same goes for the civilians as well. Raising slogans such as” bharat kii barbadi” ,”ghar ghar mai afzal paida hoga” and “india go back” is not at all justifiable.

        comparing sedition charges on gandhi,tilak and infamous leftist bhagat singh with this case does’t is not at all a valid point. And i dont understand why are you putting facts like this guy kaniya is from poor family and from remote are of india has to do with anything with this case.

        let me give you a scenario.
        suppose in modi’s rally the press finds out that there were slogans been raised such as ” gandhi pagal thaa” ” bhindrawaale amar rahe”. even though, modi himslef didnt raised any slogan. but he stood there laughing and be the part of the crowd and dont do anything which he should be doing wrt to his stature in the party’s rally. Who do you think is responsible for this behavior in the rally? who do you think should take the responsibility in such case.
        like wise i would like you to understand this scenario in same respect.

        Sir please watch this video as well of kanaiya https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N971zEq_16I . i know this video is not completely justifiable wrt to kaniya anti india ideology..

        And i dont understand hows smriti irani education qualification is related to this case?hows rss related to this case? hows any political party related to this case?
        i know kaniya belongs to political part. and i know this issue is taking political approach. but i think we are confusing things, which is sedition charged framed against jnu students are valid or not and political issues being raised by politicians wrt this case.
        JAI HIND

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  5. Your views are pretty laughable. No one feels like this in India except the extreme leftists or so. You tend to be very biased in your writing. Maybe you are one of those radical leftists. Anyways let the courts decide.

    Like

    • This note by “Ramesh” is not worthy of a reply. Since he has no argument, he is predictably reduced
      to merely saying that I am “biased”, am an “extreme leftist”, “radical leftist”, etc. Pathetic, to say the least.

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      • okay sir, I wanted to say that how can you call ‘Bharat ki barbadi’, ‘Bharat tere tukde honge’ as dissent, this is not dissent. But, I agree on one point that I have not seen Kanhaiya in those sloganeering so nothing against him, I don’t know why the police have arrested him. But I don’t feel arresting those who call such slogans is an assault on democracy as you say so here. I hope this is not pathetic.

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  6. I did not say that slogans calling for “Bharat ki barbadi” should necessarily be viewed as a form of dissent. I am not defending those slogans, neither is Kanhaiya. That should be clear enough from my piece as well as his speech.
    Please read the piece carefully. Notice, for example, this sentence: “Be that as it may, what is most germane about Kanhiaya Kumar is that he has always openly stated that calls for India’s ruin and the fragmentation of the country must be unequivocally repudiated.”

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  7. Respected Vinay Sir,

    For me and other ordinary citizens, the case was simply that a particular incident happened at JNU where some students(??) chanted slogans which were to say, declaring of war with our country.
    “Bharat ki Barbadi tak Kashmir ki Azadi tak jung karenge jung karenge; Bharat ke solah tukrade honge Insa Allah Insa Allah”…….. and many other slogans like these.

    For majority of Indians like me, we believe in nation state ” India” and if someone says these things to our nation, it doesn’t feel very good.

    So, now police investigation has begun, and the law will follow it’s course. I do not know whether Kanhaiya is guilty or not, as that the court will decide.

    I just want to know, how come you know that he is not guilty? Have you investigated the case already, before the police, to give a verdict?

    I hate the right wingies. But, after this incident, i equally hate the leftists who actually are going to the extent to defend this case in the name of Modi govt’s opression. Is this opression that police is investigating the case where students chanted anti-India slogans? Sir, please clear your views a little more. I admire you a lot,but after reading this, i am feeling very disappointed. Maybe, i am not able to understand the content you wrote properly, maybe it’s the fault of my abilities, as i cannot imagine that this content is written by “The Vinay Lal”. I am sorry Sir, if i wrote something wrong, i am extremely sorry.

    Like

    • Hello Aman,
      Let me make my views very clear, in plain English. Kanhaiya Kumar has stated very clearly that he did not chant the slogans, and no one has given any evidence to suggest that he did; (2) He condemns, as I do, the slogans (such as the one calling for the destruction of India, or its break-up); (3) His speech — as distinct from the slogans — offers a forceful critique of upper-caste dominance and oppression in India, among other subjects. What is he guilty of? As with all such incidents, one has to attempt to understand the extreme insecurity of this government and what I have called its fear of democracy. I think Modi had said, “good days are ahead”; but, unfortunately, what one sees are very bad days ahead. There are systemic problems with the police in India; it is not merely a matter of corruption, but the inability of the police to act with independence, the readiness of the police to act at the behest of those who wield political power, and severe problems in recruitment of police.

      Like

  8. Hi Vinay,

    You might want to share the transcript of Kanhaiyya’s speech that has been published widely in indian newspapers for the benefit of your students. Video link has no subtitles
    ———
    http://indianexpress.com/article/opinion/columns/kanhaiya-kumar-speech-jnu-row-is-this-sedition/

    http://www.firstpost.com/india/full-text-and-video-of-jnusu-president-kanhaya-kumars-speech-nothing-seditious-here-2628934.html
    ——–

    Not sure if you discuss the concept of “Bharat Mata” in your discourse. Rhetoric from his speech expresses multiple concepts that you teach in your class – “if my mother is not part of this Bharat Mata, the I do not agree with that Bharat Mata concept.”

    Regards
    Shailesh

    Like

  9. Dear Sir
    I am UPSC aspirant and I have understood a great deal about Indian History and Indian Society from your UCLA lectures. I want to make few remarks regarding JNU event and very modestly ask you, if I may, to comment on them
    1) Should we read these whole series of events, starting from FTII controversy, Rohit Vemula’s so called ‘suicide’ from the perspective of what happened in USA in 1960s, when people started to enter in public arena and which was ironically called by US administration(regime) as ‘crisis of democracy’. My simple assertion is the following one: How is it possible that when general population starts to enter into public sphere can be considered as derogatory to democracy? This is definition of the democracy, that a system where general population has ability of effectively participate in public arena. Then why this narrative is being constructed that they were actually harming democracy.
    2) Secondly, If I look at kanhaiya as a person, one striking virtue he carries is – sincerity. He is very seriously devoted to his beliefs and convictions. He was saying the same things during his JNU presidential speech, before being arrested and after getting out. This makes him quite different from most of those who are active in political domain. And leaders who were sincere made great deal of impacts-good or bad (Gandhi, Ambedkar, Hitler) Also he is extremely good orator. Do you think that he could bring about some defining change in Indian polity or is it the domain where one should not dwell into?
    3) And thirdly, what do you think can be done about the Indian media. Its shockingly sad what is going on in some indian news channels? They have twisted, tweaked and manipulated the whole narrative. Most of them are and have been portraying kanhaiya and JNU as ‘anti-national’ and they are not responsible or accountable to anyone. Damage has been done and yet no one is responsible.

    Your articulation of imperialism as being fundamentally ‘imperialism of knowledge’ has changed my whole understanding of history. This was one of the idea to which after stumbling upon you say to yourself,”Oh God, I never thought like that. Its brilliant”. I will always be thankful to you for that moment of epiphany.

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  10. Hi,as you wrote on JNU movement http://bhoothnike.com/video.php?b=tOE2jTlmOSc,I think this was not the part of non violence movement or any type of action what we can say which comes in the figure of independence.First thing is that what is the real independence and for which we are fighting?Is begging for an unwanted demand is the definition of independence?JNU has become the place of notorious, and their work is just to provoke people ,nothing else.

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    • Very sorry to say this, but the writer of this comment has not understood what I have written. The easiest charge to make, especially against those with whom one does not agree, is to recklessly accuse them of being “anti-national”. This is the refuge of those who refuse to think. A critique of a government and of its policies cannot be equated with being anti-national, but in any case what does “anti-national” mean?

      Like

  11. Respected sir,

    It looks you are educated person and quite learned. It seems nation has given a lot to you. Position name and fame.
    But it also seems that you are scared of upper caste and your thinking is the same old thinking of lower caste(from mind) people. There is no caste there is not religion. Go and check how much money is spend on lower caste and what present and old govts have done for it. Check how your medical,govts job and all got impacted by all reservations but still govt is perusing it because you backward thinking people still needs support. Though you may have car and bungalow but you want reservations because THINKING is still low.

    CASTE is one….INDIA…..we need to support really poor as they are the low caste. Only POOR

    What is against nation is against nation. Go to china singapore all of these countries are doing well because they have killed these divisive forces. You guys dont know what is the implication of your support. Why terrorists get power to kill people in India but not in Singapore. We are fools and our rules are not strict because you learned people always support anti national activities.

    Yes Kanhaiya may be right but Why anti India slogans. Who cares for my feelings? You care of lower caste people feeling but where is INDIA sir….What about my national feelings. You are angry with govt thats fine…but why anti India slogans………..why not anti modi slogans…..LEarn the diff in anti india and anti govt slogans SIR

    Country has a hope from you sir. That you will guide people so I request you not to mislead Indian youths. Do something for Indian democracy and our Nation. We need learned people like you to lead from front.

    Like

  12. Hello Sir,
    This is just to express my gratitude towards you.Your blogs, videos and articles have been of immense help for me.Not to talk of the dissenting analysis on which your articles are based, but also your lectures have helped me throughout this year. I hail from Jammu and Kashmir, and given that the state was caught in turbulence this year, so an entire academic session was put to waste; and then exams were announced, when in fact we had no lectures or classes for any subject at all. And it was then, when I came across your lectures on YouTube, that really filled all the requirements and the teaching style also suited my needs. Not that we can always stay objective, but objectivity is something I always seek, which unfortunately we never got here. But your lectures and blogs have been really enlightening .So thanks a lot . You may not be able to assess how uselful and helpful your lectures have been, especially for students like us.
    Thank you
    Regards

    Like

    • Thanks, Sana, for your kind remarks. Yes, I can understand how the situation in Jammu & Kashmir, which is difficult and taxing for everyone, is not at all conducive to university education. Lives are being destroyed and what is remarkable nonetheless is the willingness of some to learn and study though violence is all around them. Indeed, the hunger for knowledge is often the greatest among those who are without privileges. I haven’t written or spoken on Kashmir very much but I shall do so one day. Best wishes, Vinay

      Like

      • Sure, sir.I will be looking forward to your write-ups on Jammu and Kashmir issue.And when that happens, I’ll be the first one to read it. In fact I wanted to ask you if you’d ever write on this sensitive issue, because till now, most of the articles or books I’ve come across, related to this issue, distort the facts in one or the other way(giving into subjectivity, as I often observe); in fact Kashmir issue has been like that hat(As said by Joad about Socialsim, though I know this isn’t a very relevent analogy to use ,in this case), that’s lost its shape because everybody wears it, even if it doesn’t fit, they make it fit by pulling out all the stops.There hasn’t been much of an objective analysis on this issue, and media further exacerbates the entire issue. So I’m really looking forward to your write-ups on this as well.

        Regards.

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  13. Dear Sana,
    I don’t believe that the question is only one of being ‘objective’. There are many narratives about Kashmir and the ‘Kashmir problem.’ We have to first understand the nature of the ‘problem’ and understand why it is a problem. Self-determination is obviously critical but would we not have to tackle the whole question of the logic of the nation-state as well? That is, unfortunately, the only logic available to us today, and we then have to ask whether that leaves us with any real scenario where self-determination would become possible for all the people of J & K — Muslims, Hindus, Sikhs, and Buddhists. Even the nature of Islam in Kashmir, which few people discuss, would have to come in for consideration. But I don’t wish to say more at this juncture. Best wishes, Vinay

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    • I get your point,sir. And that’s all very apt. Self determination comes very late into the entire issue; that’s not what I would deliberate at this stage, given my limited access to facts and the information available. The multiple narratives work all really parallel, but I am always reminded of our classes in college, regarding the subject.The nature of the issue was really never well explained.I do not even remember the teachers give some reference to substantiate their arguments, and that’s where it would become a problem for we students to sieve out the links and facts. And therefore, the entire topic wasn’t well absorbed, paving way for political dilemma.For me luckily, it was outside the class, where I was able to gather the legal-political aspect of the issue, thanks to some good books, researches and guidance of a third person. But I definitely would look out for more on such issues, then be it local or global.
      And just on a lighter note, the internet speed here, at times, literally breaks the continuity of your video lectures, it takes ages to start again.
      Thank you , anyway.It’s always a privilege for me to be able to access what little I can of your video lectures.

      Like

    • Hello sir. Hope you are doing fine. I do not really know what prompted me to write to you, but perhaps your lectures have been of immense help, and now that my result is out as well, and somehow I consider you as my teacher as well, though I never had the fortune of attending your lectures in person , and so I wish to inform, you that a book titled LEAVES FROM KASHMIR has been published lately, it’s my sister’s work. Sir, if you’d just read it once, we’d be grateful. It’s again a work born out of the conflict and dilemma our generation faces, it’s purely a literary work though, revolving around themes of longing, exile, life, nostalgia, retribution, and the intermittemt vascillations between being apolitical and political , and the impelling circumstances that determine the choices, as no road can be set without taking the context into account.
      The book LEAVES FROM KASHMIR by Saba Shafi is available on Amazon. If ever you get the time, do give it a read and we’d be eager for all your feedback.

      Regards
      Sana
      (Your student from the land of metaphors)

      Like

      • Dear Sana, Thanks for letting me know about your sister’s book. I’ll get hold of a copy. Please extend my warmest congratulations to her. I hope that you did well on your exams, too!

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      • Hope you’re fine, sir. Thanks to your video lectures , I made it to JNU for post graduation. Thanks a lot.

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  14. My apologies for the delayed response, actually the Internet had been snapped as usual. Thank you for your wishes, sir. And about my exams, so yes, the results were satisfactory, although that is not what I study for, the purpose of acquiring knowledge can’t be compressed into the folds of the answer sheets of any exam. Thank you again for your lectures, sir.

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  15. Hi Sana,
    I’ve read about the internet connections being cut off and orders by the J & K Government to block social media sites. I like very much what you say about the fact that knowledge “can’t be compressed into the folds of the answer sheets of any exam.” How I wish that most of the students I have here at UCLA who are so privileged had such an enlightened point of view! This is of course one of the inescapable ironies, one that has been encountered by me and many others many times before: those who have difficult access to knowledge and books crave for such knowledge, and those who have it at their fingertips take it for granted. I see very little respect for books among the thousands of students whom I’ve taught in the US: to most of them, education is only about getting qualifications for a job.

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  16. It is really sad and disheartening to hear this. Here we hardly get a chance to even attend classes on a regular basis, and we suffer a lot because of that. Already so much time has been wasted and what the future holds, no one can predict. However, now that I am done with my graduation, thankfully, so I’ve been preparing for various entrance examinations. And I hope I can land in some institution where there is a free atmosphere and easy access to knowledge, with critical thinking forming the essence of all that we are taught. Hopefully.

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  17. Hello professor,
    Considering the events happening in India, one can say that the type of leadership in the country is dictatorial, but not democratic. Although the leaders might have been elected by the people, they do not listen to the grievances and opinions of those who elected them. Instead of banning the student protests, the Indian government should rather shift attention to listening to what the protestors say. The numerous protests are a clear indication of a revolution
    Apparently, there have been upper-caste domination in the country. Those who are oppressed are the poor people in the society. Democracy is a kind of leadership whereby the people rule themselves, therefore, the voices of all Indian citizens should be listened to rather than issuing threats to those who protest.

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  18. Hi Professor Lal,

    Accusations of anti-nationalism by the dominant group are ever-present in nations where basic tenets of democracy are disregarded, and this is no different in India. It’s unfortunate to see free speech targeted on college campuses as they can be regarded as the heart of activism and social change. I do, however, take solace in Kanhaiya Kumar’s release from jail and continued fight against corruption, and I can only hope that despite PM Modi’s reelection, India can move toward a reality of putting into practice protections for political free speech.

    Keyaira

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  19. Hello professor,

    Sad to see that yet again, the fight for democracy is wrongly translated into being an anti-national. The students are being revoked the expression of building a better India, just because it is their, “unconventional” way of thinking.

    Sundo Oh

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  20. Hello professor,
    Democracy in India seems to be having a long way to go. First of all, the threats issued by the government to those who plan to protest are a clear indication of fear of democracy. There is a large disparity between the ruling class and the poor in the society. Apparently, the ruling class fears that there might be a revolution. This is why even protests are not allowed and student leaders are arrested.
    Although India is referred to as a democratic country, I really don’t think that the leaders observe democracy. The people should be allowed to have a say in issues pertaining the state. The fact that numerous protests have already occurred indicates that some citizens are not content with the government.

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  21. Hi professor
    I think the Indian government has been seriously assaulting the democracy of the citizens. Apparently, citizens are not allowed to protest or engage in demonstrations since the government and the police often interrupts any demonstrations being carried on. The Indian citizens have their freedom of expression limited. There is also the threat of capital punishment for those who oppose the government. This considers the fact that Guru was handed a death sentence for attacking the Indian parliament, of which I would say that it was just another judicial killing.
    The fact that some protestors have been calling for fragmentation of India is an adequate proof that they are tired of oppression by the ruling class. In order to avoid unnecessary commotions, the Indian government should allow for demonstrations in order to pave way for democracy.

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