New Delhi: Universities in India stole the spotlight this past week, with Jawaharlal Nehru University students taking to the streets to protest against the draft hostel manual that aims to hike fees and restrict the freedom of students on campus. More so, students at Banaras Hindu University continued to protest the appointment of a Muslim professor in the Sanskrit department. Two different protests, and two different reasons – one for social justice, and the other a display, as one right-wing writer put it, of “bigotry”.
While Swarajya magazine did report on the JNU protests that rocked the capital on Monday, the slant of the organisation can be made clear from the headlines.
Interestingly enough, an article written by Arihant Pawariya, a senior editor at Swarajya, takes up the case of Dr Firoz Khan, the appointee at BHU that has caused more “nationalistic students” much heartache.
According to Pawariya, “It’s a matter of shame that Dr Firoz Khan, who comes from such a family which is rooted in Indian culture and tradition and has made its livelihood dependent on this land’s civilisational ethos, is being put in the dock by entitled juveniles at the BHU.”
He narrates how out of 30 people, 10 were shortlisted only for Dr Khan to have been picked to fill the position. “Why would a panel full of Hindus recommend a Muslim over so many Hindu candidates if he isn’t qualified?” he asks.
Addressing the other “fallacious arguments” that have been offered, he slams this as a “clear case of bigotry”.
“A Muslim can’t teach them Sanskrit. That’s what the media reported at first. Then the students clarified they meant a Muslim can’t teach them dharma vigyan (theology),” Pawariya writes, before quoting protest leader Chakramani Ojha on how Hindu theology cannot be taught “a person of a different religion who doesn’t have any faith in the scriptures he is supposed to teach”.
“It is ridiculous to suggest that theology can’t be taught by non-believers be it Hindu, Islamic or Christian. Scholars across the world have been doing so for many centuries and will continue to uphold that tradition. Was Dr Bhimrao Ambedkar a scholar on Islamic theology? Was Dayanand Saraswati? Would we better off if those two had not written on Islam?”
Now, think of the potential debilitating effect the shenanigans of BHU students can have on non-Hindus. The day non-Hindus stop taking interest in Dharma and Sanskrit is the day we should seriously dread of. That’s why these misguided students can’t be allowed to succeed.
Hindu nationalists don’t see any difference between Hindu and Indian nationalism. They should be leading in their felicitations of these fine brand ambassadors of Indic knowledge systems. Anyone who is siding with recalcitrant students on dharna cannot be a friend of Hindutva.”
Also read: #RightSideUp: Ayodhya, Judgment Day
OpIndia‘s writing staff doesn’t quite see the issue the same way. In an article titled “A Tale of Two Protests: ‘Students’ at JNU receive a free pass while the students at BHU are demonised for a fair demand“, K. Bhattacharjee does declare in the very first paragraph that OpIndia has previously stated that it is “perfectly rational to demand that Hindu theology be taught by someone who has faith in it”.
The entire article is full of screenshots meant to show how the media, namely BBC, the Indian Express, the Free Press Journal and others who wrote of “dismal times” at BHU.
According to Bhattacharjee:
“In their efforts to malign the protesters at BHU, the media has again engaged in completely misrepresenting the point of view of the students of the University. First of all, the faculty is not for merely teaching Sanskrit. A separate department exists for that within the BHU. The faculty in question exists to teach students Hindu theology. There’s a huge difference between the two.
Bhattacharjee then includes a quote from a student:
“If we do not protest now, then 15 years hence this faculty will have one Muslim professor, faculty head and even dean. They will appoint more Muslims and a time will come when the ones who will be in charge of ‘Hindu Dharma Vigyan’ stream will be non-Hindus. Those who do not have any connection to Hindu Sanatan traditions, Yagnas and Jyotish.”
Bhattacharjee thus asks how it an be called bigotry when students “demand that they be taught by someone who is suited to the task”.
Turning his attention to the “vandals at JNU” and their “tax politics”, he writes that the media always rushed to “defend the students and demonise the administration”.
“Why is the media treating the two groups of students differently? One group is protesting about an issue that affects their education significantly while the other is indulging in toxic politics…”
The ‘students’ of JNU were not demonised so blatantly even when they chanted slogans such as ‘Bharat tere tukde hongey inshallah inshallah’. Their Jihadist chants were defended under the garb of ‘Freedom of Expression’ by ’eminent intellectuals’. And here we have the media completely misrepresenting the position of the BHU students entirely. Perhaps, it’s because protests in JNU are ‘secular’ while those in BHU is ‘saffron’.”
In an attempt to analyse the fewer than ten days that have passed since the Ayodhya verdict, OpInida editor Nupur Sharma pushed out a lengthy article on how Hindus are made to feel “perennially ashamed and guilty” and how the narrative post the verdict is being bent by ‘”jihad apologists” to achieve it.
In a section which describes how Hindus were forced to walk on “egg shells lest they offend the easily provokable Muslim community and let one of the most glorious victories slide with sombre maturity,” she writes:
“Hindus were asked to keep calm. Hindus were asked to not offend the Muslim community. Hindus were asked not to celebrate the culmination of a 5 century-old battle for a piece of land their faith was inextricably tied to. Hindus were asked to not consider this a victory. Hindus were asked to maintain ‘marayada’ while celebrating the return of their King, Marayada Purshottum Ram, essentially, Hindus were told that any celebration would mean a direct instigation of the Muslim community.
And Hindus did oblige.”
Sharma then rambles on about the “annoying pontification” offered by critics of the verdict. Talking about how this is a case of “inducing ‘survivor’s guilt’, she writes:
“When Hindus are told that their victory, one they have fought tooth and nail for over a span of 500 years, is not something that they must celebrate, it is essentially a practice in inducing paralysing guilt. The Ayodhya struggle was a traumatic one for both sides, especially for Hindus. Hindus first lost their temple to invading, barbaric hoards. Then, Indian Muslims refused to recognise that Hindus had a rightful claim over what they lost. When Hindus struggled to get it back, they were called bigots, criminals. They were shot at, killed, maimed. They were branded as terrorists.
What the liberals wanted with their elaborate charade is to make Hindus feel guilty. When a people can’t celebrate a victory that they fought for over the span of 500 years, you essentially tell them that they do not ‘deserve’ the victory… Hindus did not celebrate. Hindus stayed mute.”
From there on, Sharma launches into her usual tirade, full of some choice words, against some of her ‘favourite’ journalists, including Rana Ayyub, Barkha Dutt and even The Wire’s Arfa Khanum Sherwani.
A lecture on the “guilt of an innocent man” follows, along with a supposed explanation of what ‘jihadist apologists’ want:
“It is important to realise that the Jihad apologists don’t despise Hindus per se. They simply want that the Hindu community never gets over its insurmountable capacity to absorb hate, humiliation, defeat, murder, rape, conversion and the desecration of their faith. For the capacity to absorb humiliation to continue, the Hindu must be made to carry the burden of undeserved guilt perennially.
The guilt helps the Muslim community arm-twist a nation-state. the guilt, that is so insurmountable, that the Hindu is forced to pretend like the tyranny never existed.
What irks them today, is that surely, but slowly, the Hindu is raising his head and shedding the baggage of forced guilt.
The Hindu must be forced into submission again. The question remains – will the Hindu be manipulated yet again.”