Defeat the ABVP's Poisonous Agenda of Communalising Education and Branding Students as “Anti-National”
The very first agenda in the ABVP's campaign leaflet for the JNUSU Elections this year is “Restructure of syllabus” (sic). And another one in the list of their main agenda items is “a strong check on all anti-national activities”. Both these expose the venomous politics of the RSS, whose student wing is the ABVP.
What does the ABVP mean when it says it will restructure the syllabus?
The answer is obvious to JNU students. When the BJP-led NDA was in power the last time, the government had tried to introduce obscurantist courses in JNU such as “Human Consciousness” as part of the undemocratically prepared X Plan Proposals in 2001. Such attempts were unitedly resisted by the students under the leadership of the SFI-led JNUSU. Even as the UGC imposed fund cuts on JNU during that time, it was offering crores of rupees to educational institutions which were ready to start courses such as Astrology, Pourohitya and Karmakand. The courses that were being promoted by the RSS-controlled Ministry of Human Resource Development symbolised the communal, casteist and patriarchal ideology of the RSS and the BJP which seek to attack the very fundamentals of a rational, modern education system. The RSS-BJP's attempts to communalise education by rewriting NCERT text books is, of course, well-known.
The systematic assault by the RSS-BJP on reason continues today and has intensified. The killing of the famous anti-superstition activist Narendra Dabholkar signified the Hindutva forces' attempts to silence all voices of dissent. The ascendancy of the RSS-BJP to power has emboldened the forces of unreason even further, as shown by the subsequent murders of Comrade Govind Pansare (who wrote a popular biography of Shivaji which the Sangh Parivar found unpalatable) and Prof. M M Kalburgi, a prominent critic of superstition and idol worship.
The contempt of the RSS towards reason and science can be seen in the statements of none other than the Prime Minister Narendra Modi himself. According to him, the birth of Karna in the Mahabharata is proof of the existence of genetic science in India during ancient times, and Ganesha's elephant head on a human body was proof of the existence of plastic surgery in ancient India! Such absurd, crackpot theories have also been peddled by pseudo-historians of the Sangh Parivar, who have claimed that Taj Mahal was a Hindu monument, that the Kaaba in Mecca was a “Hindu temple, stolen by Muslims” and even that Christianity is actually “Krishna-Neeti”. The objective is to impose the Sangh Parivar narrative that all the scientific knowledge that exists in the world today already existed in ancient India, that the caste system is a great thing to have (as the current ICHR head, an RSS stooge, says) and that mythology can replace history.
The “restructuring of the syllabus” that the RSS-ABVP aims at will surely go beyond communalisation. It will also entail a systematic attack on academic freedom and rigour in our university, which has enabled many of our faculty members and centres to mount challenges to the dominant ruling class narratives in various disciplines. The idea is to let saleability in the market be the sole determinant of what should be taught and should not be taught in our university. At a time when the worldwide economic crisis which has been persisting since 2008 is forcing even mainstream economists to rethink about the role and efficacy of the markets, the RSS-ABVP's absolute faith in the market to solve the problems of society could have been described as comical if it were not so dangerous.
Who is Anti-National?
The ABVP also says that they will impose “strong checks on anti-national” activities. Now, the RSS-ABVP talking about nation and nationalism is an absurdity in itself, like the devil preaching the Bible. The RSS was not part of the anti-colonial struggle of the Indian people against British rule. Nathuram Godse, the assassin of Mahatma Gandhi, was an RSS man. V D Savarkar, a prominent Sangh leader, was an active participant in the conspiracy to murder Gandhi. He was an accused in the case, and was acquitted only because the approver, Digambar Badge's evidence lacked independent corroboration; a common flaw in conspiracy cases. But the Judge Atma Charan accepted Badge as a truthful witness. Later, the Kapur Commission (set up in 1965) which examined evidence that was not provided in the court, especially the testimony of two of Savarkar's close aides, concluded that Savarkar was guilty. Had the two aides testified in court, Savarkar would have been convicted.
The RSS's ideal of India is enshrined in the infamous motto “Hindi-Hindu-Hindustan”. It refuses to accept the equality of all the different nationalities that constitute and comprise India, and which fought together in the freedom struggle against colonial rule. The RSS seeks to impose a monolithic, communal idea of the nation, which is evident, for instance, in the writings of M S Golwalkar, the Hindutva ideologue and the second Sarsanghchalak of the RSS. He wrote in his work We or Our Nationhood Defined:
“The non-Hindu people of Hindustan must either adopt Hindu culture and language, must learn and respect and hold in reverence the Hindu religion, must entertain no idea but of those of glorification of the Hindu race and culture ... In a word they must cease to be foreigners, or may stay in the country, wholly subordinated to the Hindu nation, claiming nothing, deserving no privileges, far less any preferential treatment — not even citizens' rights.”
In other words, the minorities in this country would have no place in the RSS's concept of India. The students of JNU, however, have always opposed the Sangh Parivar's bigoted ideology and held up the equality of all people, belonging to all religions, communities, ethnicities, languages and nationalities. They have stood up to oppose the RSS ideology which treats women as second class citizens and as “being fit only for domestic chores”. Precisely because of our determined opposition to the chauvinistic project of the RSS, the Hindutva forces have made JNU a target.
During the tenure of the previous BJP-led NDA government, the RSS tried to target JNU and the SFI-led JNUSU as a den of “ISI agents”. There was an incident of violence during an Indo-Pak Mushaira held in JNU on 29 April 2000, where three drunken disruptors (one of whom brandished a revolver) were beaten up only to later find that two of them were Army officers. The Sangh Parivar then demanded that the ‘ISI activities’ in JNU be investigated, and the notorious ‘Bahri Commission of Enquiry’ was set up in pliant response to this absurd demand. Such targeting, however, was defeated by the steadfast resistance of the students’ movement led by the SFI-led JNUSU.
Not only is the RSS's idea of India utterly communal, but in essence and practice the India that it promotes is that of the Adanis and the Ambanis and other big corporates. The workers, peasants, petty producers, Dalits, Adivasis and women belonging to all communities lie outside this ruling class idea of India. The economic policies of the RSS-led Modi government benefit only the ruling classes led by the big corporates, who ultimately form a tiny section of our population. To paraphrase what Marx and Engels wrote in the Communist Manifesto, the working people of India, consisting of the workers, peasants, Dalits, Adivasis, women and other toiling sections, must constitute themselves the nation (though not in the bourgeois sense of the word) in order to resolutely oppose and defeat the RSS and its communal-fascist vision of what India ought to be.
The SFI would like to assert here that the students of JNU and the people of India would firmly reject the attempts to refashion India to fit the communal-fascist, majoritarian, ruling class idea of the “nation” peddled by the RSS. We will continue to speak the truth, and all fascist attempts to muzzle our voices in defence of the working people of our country belonging to all communities will be rejected.