In the 1980s, the Communists have an encounter with Arun Shourie at JNU
Perhaps in no other country would you witness university students sloganeering for the destruction of their own nation and for clamours promising to fulfil a terrorist’s “wish”. And perhaps in no other country would you witness top media personalities, intellectuals, writers, academics, and even former judges justifying this brazenness as “freedom of speech.” This assorted crew then takes the justification forward and hails these rabid sloganeers as heroes and martyrs.
A short explanation is in order.
There is India and then there is the Unaccountable Communist Republic of JNU, which merely happens to inhabit the geography of India but is covertly and overtly funded and supported by powerful interests in India hailing from the political class, bureaucracy, academia, media, and the rest. The emergence of Kanhaiya Kumar and his motley band of terrorist-supporters in early 2016 is but the natural blooming of the seeds that founded the Jawaharlal Nehru University. For those that have followed not merely the history of the JNU but that of the root ideology that inspires and guides it in India, Kanhaiya, Umar Khalid and company’s flagrant antics aren’t surprising.
At a point on another timeline not too distant from the present, the JNU slogan of “Hindustan ko tukde tukde kar denge” (We will chop India into pieces) was given overwhelming support at the party, policy, and on the ground by the progenitors of the JNU. The result: Partition of India in 1947.
Very briefly, the seeds were germinated in what is known as the “Adhikari Thesis,” which was a position paper authored by Gangadhar Adhikari, who was briefly Secretary of the (undivided) Communist Party of India (CPI).
The “position paper” titled “Pakistan and National Unity”, in reality was simply two things: an endorsement of the Muslim League’s demand for Pakistan and the willingness of the CPI to fully back it. The CPI passed a resolution to the effect based on this paper.
But the premise of G Adhikari in the paper is what is interesting: one, he holds that India was never a united country “from Kashmir to Kanyakumari” and that the idea of “one nation, one people, one language” never existed at any point in India’s long history. Two, he characterizes the various regions of India as “different individual nationalities.”
It is highly instructive to read the entire paper in full. This premise enables him for example, to write this:
How different is this from Kanhaiya and gang’s “Bharat tere honge” slogan If anything, Adhikari’s work provides the ideological basis and justification upon whose strength these “martyrs” enact their drama unimpeded on a sprawling campus created, sustained, and subsidised by the Indian taxpayer who’s only recently becoming aware of the exact sort of national danger this institution poses.
The communists’ support to the Muslim League’s demand for Pakistan — not to mention the orgy of bloodshed they unleashed in Telangana in 1946 in support of yet another vivisection of India — eventually tarnished their image nationwide.
But as luck would have it, in Nehru they found a Prime Minister who was thoroughly seduced by the USSR, their Holy Fatherland. It was during his tenure of seventeen years that they slowly began taking control of institutions that shaped public discourse — chiefly, education. However, this period was one where they had merely laid the foundations and were placing the initial bricks. The actual fortification began when Indira Gandhi sought their support in 1969 to provide stability to her Government, which she had formed after splitting the original Indian National Congress. It’s well-known that in return, they demanded the establishment of JNU, a mini-township spread over more than a thousand acres of prime land in Delhi.
Mrs Gandhi’s education minister Nurul Hasan, a true-blue communist, eventually packed the JNU with handpicked party people, communist academics, and committed ideologues to key positions. The JNU grew meteorically. As now so then: academic faculty were a little more than indoctrinators imparting ideology instead of learning. Even worse, some worthies were on the payroll of the USSR.Yuri Bezmenov, a (deceased) KGB defector to the West narrates how when he was working at the Russian embassy in India, academics from various universities including Delhi University and JNU would be exported to and trained in the USSR in techniques of indoctrinating their students in Communism.
A friend and veteran JNU alumnus I recently met narrated some telling experiences of life on campus in the early 1980s.
Almost all academics—faculty and visiting—were card-carrying communists who drove student activism. Violent, breaking-India-type groups like the PSO and RSO too enjoyed relative freedom to carry out their on-campus propaganda.
Students who didn’t toe the line were mercilessly victimized. As a high profile example, my friend narrated how a former president of the JNUSU (JNU Student Union) committed the cardinal sin of not adhering to the party line. He was rusticated and his PhD was delayed by eight years. He later went on to become the Patna resident editor of a prominent newspaper.
However, the most revealing and vivid anecdote from my JNU friend was that of Arun Shourie being invited in 1984 or 85 for an informal, post-dinner address to students at the mess. The topic was “Media as the megaphone of the government,” and the context was twofold.
The first: around that period, as a laboratory experiment, Mrs Gandhi had gotten the Jagannath Mishra Government in Bihar to introduce the Press Bill to throttle press freedom but had to back down in face of severe opposition. The second: in 1984, the now-defunct Illustrated Weekly of India carried a four-part series entitled The Great Betrayal authored by Arun Shourie. That series had exposed the treacherous role the communists had played in sabotaging the Quit India Movement.
The invitation to Shourie was primarily aimed at cornering him on their own turf — the JNU — during the Q&A session. My JNU friend described how Shourie came armed with cartons of primary evidence, photocopies, and boxfuls of papers, and systematically showed how the USSR had painted Second World War as a “People’s War” thanks to brilliant propaganda, which our comrades back then had dutifully swallowed.
In contrast, the only rebuttal to Shourie’s speech came from an AISF (All India Students’ Federation) member in the form of a question: “how much has the CIA paid you?” The ensuing exchange, as my friend recounted (paraphrased), is telling:
Arun Shourie (AS): Are you a student or a teacher? Student: I am a student.AS: For how long?
Student: 10 years.
AS: I asked this question because I wanted to ensure whether you are contaminated or the one doing the contaminating.