It’s hard to say which ‘law’ runs the world and gives meaning to our existence, but it is not hard to make meaning of the events that happen around us. It is important to mention one thing despite all ‘obvious’ understandings of the time, that there come up several interpretations for the same event depending upon the attitude one holds towards this world and self. But let me also mention that our lives are fragmented into events, ideas, choices, and actions. These events, ideas, choices, and actions are assigned values by us that lead to selection/approval/acceptance of some and rejection/condemnation of others.
We have been accustomed to the fact that we Indians have a tendency to forget events very soon. We take one event with all our energy, then another and yet another and then the life goes on and we soon forget it all after some time. Why do we have this tendency to think things and events in fragments? This day is a day in history as equivalent to all other days, full of events. Is this event different from the other events that caught our attention recently like the one that happened in our university? Is it different from the other unnoticed events that happen daily, that are happening around us and are disregarded? Perhaps yes because it’s not the events per se but the value we assign to these events which stir our emotions and assert our being in the world.
But this tendency of taking events and thinking things in fragments, giving acknowledgement and acceptance to selectively few things has led us to where we stand today here in the campus. Perhaps few of us may be able to look at things wholly and think, ‘Is this the crisis of misunderstanding of each others’ definition of nation, or the crisis of the higher education system, the crisis of involvement of youth and politics, crisis of our media, or is it the crisis of an unawakened citizenry whose minds and hearts are run by the media, or is this the failure of the media itself?’
Or one should put the question the other way round and try look at things not in parts. Are citizens different from the media or the two political viewpoints of students make them different from each other, i.e., from the common category of students and also as citizens, is the State different from its citizens or ministers different from its citizens?
When the campus was in turmoil yesterday, few of the students were engaged in discussing how school text books became the medium of producing a class of loyal citizens after independence. Sadly, when I see the same students (who were educated through more or less the same text books) fighting to prove their love for the country I’m able to see it clearly what wrong education can do to us. The damage has already been done. And this is the effect of it. I am compelled to plea, let’s not take any crisis in fragments anymore. Let’s change the way we think about things. It’s not a crisis in any system or group in particular rather it is the crisis of our education that we have gone through in our childhood. This education equally involves our families, our state, our schools, and our media. It’s a failure of all the systems of society together and therefore it is a failure of each one of us, not only as a member of one particular group but all as citizens irrespective of one’s relation with this university.
None of these systems (especially the education we receive in all its forms as mentioned above) impart criticality in our minds (rather they demand our confirmation) which otherwise would have enabled all of us in our own capacity to depend on ourselves to choose what is right or what is wrong. For this criticality in one’s mind is far stronger than any forces out in the world motivated by any sort of intention which tries to influence the mind itself.
If we collectively (all, as members of this country) would have developed this much-required ability, we would not have been witnessing this crisis—neither in the campus nor outside.
And I am obliged by being misunderstood for I refrain myself from choosing any side on the basis of my fragmentary values. For I see crisis in the root. And no one’s judgement about this university can change what it has given to me. Why are we afraid? We should not. Rather we should have faith in one’s ability to create more spaces like JNU everywhere we go and with every one we meet. We live here in the university for a part of our lives but this university lives inside of us throughout life and nothing has the ability to alter it, even a bit.
Paridhi Joshi is a student at JNU. The views expressed are personal.