25 January 2016| 5:30 PM: On the occasion of the book launch of What the Nation Really Needs to Know: The JNU Nationalism Lectures, JNUTA organized a public event in the evening at the Admin Block on Wednesday, 25 January 2016. Eminent academicians who have at some point or other been associated with JNUTA spoke to affirm their solidarity with the Teacher’s Association.
The event was well attended by students and professors, while some of the students stood holding banners at the meet. The placards expressed a mixed bag of feelings: “Nationalism via Amazon & Flipkart”, “Romaticizing Dalit and Bahujan Communities”, “Celebrating Missing Najeeb, Commodifying the Movement” and “On the eve of Republic Day Indefinite Hunger Strike…” – read a few.
Prof Ajay Patnaik, JNUTA President welcomed all and introduced the speakers. Prof Tiplut Nongbri from CSSS began “I came here to express my moral solidarity” and added “to express it morally… it is important that we do so in world full of materialism and where there is so much of technocentrism, an element of symbolism is important.” She further said that she has joined the gathering representing the sociology department, her gender as there has been no other woman other than Prof Janaki and as a representative from the marginalized communities.
Speaking on the occasion next was Prof K. M. Chenoy who brought in various references from history to shed light on India’s role in the international arena from the Spanish Civil war to the Non-Aligned movement, to the liberation struggle for Bangladesh; to argue that India has always been guided by a sense of nationalism which has been outward directed. “The legacy that we have of internationalism is very important” and therefore he also suggested that there should be “some scrutiny and discussions on India’s nationalism [sought] through its world affairs”.
Earlier he was heard commenting: “the tradition in JNU from 1972 has been that the students have always been backed by the teachers, no matter who’s the VC.”
Prof Harbans Mukhia applauded the Teacher’s Association for successfully conducting the lectures as well as the movement. He said at a time when teachers all over the country are busy securing their jobs and defending their offices and the administration, it gives great hope to find teachers in JNU refusing to give in to the same kind of pressure.
Emphasizing on the twin forces that drive history, he said there has been a tendency to assert the right to question received wisdom and in the other way the right to deny. There is a questioning of received culture and tradition, whereas the assertion of the right to deny that questioning starts from family, community, neighbourhood, university, nation, and so on. “Many a times the right to assert [to question] has proved very very costly, it costs even your life, those who have did not survive, [though] the questions they asked survived.” JNU therefore has promoted the right to ask questions.
Prof Anand Kumar’s speech had the quintessential JNUSU flavour, who also happens to be ex-president of JNUSU and also later, served as the president of JNUTA. “What JNUTA did last year was creating a method of correcting the madness of people in power.” Referring to the book released, he said, “now you have a weapon in your hand.”
The premises rang out with laughter when he declared “main request karunga JNUTA se, meri apni wali copy, rashtriya registered dak se JNU ke kulpati ko bhej di jaye.”
Each speaker invited on the dais appreciated and commended JNUTA for its efforts in compiling the lectures and in getting it published to make it available for the public at large.
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