The Real Classroom: Outdoor Lectures Dissect Nationalism at JNU
Published on: February 27, 2016
JNU teachers create History with the sit in lectures titled, What the Nation Really Needs to Know: India - The National and Nationalism
The day that Kanhaiya Kumar was experiencing brutal blows by men in black coats (lawyers!) as an impotent Delhi police looked on, (February 17, 2016), the stalwart teachers organisation, JNUTA (JNU Teacher’s Association) began an innovative series of lectures, out in the open, after regular classes as its own special answer to the rather vile propaganda doing the rounds on the airwaves of private television.
Calling it a lecture series, titled the Ideas of Nationalism, the title of the series is to the point : What the Nation Really Needs to Know: India, - The National and Nationalism
On the evening of the first lecture, it was professor Gopal Guru who delivered the first salvo. While introducing the series, a senior professor said that the teachers organising the series on the advice of the Vice Chancellor M Jagadesh Kumar who said that “we (teachers) must take our academic lives seriously. We are gathered here after a full day’s teaching, after 6 p.m. delivering lectures...We are here debating terms that we are being bombarded with..We are here to do what we are best at doing, namely teaching.” The retort was aimed at a VC who has invited much criticism after he allowed police on campus through a hurriedly dashed off letter (before February 12, 2016) to the authorities.
"Since the VC has asked teachers of JNU to not engage in campus politics and do what they know best, the teachers have decided to do just that: discourse nationalism. Everyday, post 5 pm at the JNU Administrative Block an Open Classroom on “Nationalism” has been held."
The teachers who have delivered the lectures are among the best academic minds within and outside the campus.
Gopal Guru, gave the first iconic lecture.
Gopal Guru : “What is the nation?”
“We are finding different definitions. Some are just judgements not definitions...
Is Nationalism linked to emotions where people can make sweeping judgements on students, teaching and non-teaching faculty of JNU? Nation and argument are tied to each other. There must be a reasoned and deep response to the idea of Nation. Not base emotions.People are being misled: the Nation is being made into a devilish construct of the problematic other.”
“If the Nation is constructed as the devilish other not only is this dangerous, it precedes a complete take over by fascist forces. The Nation is a social creation that can only be articulated around notions of equity and justice”
Lecture by Gopal Guru to the Sit In Classroom, JNU, February 2016
Nivedita Menon : “Anti-National Sanghis are a Minority”
“This is a historic moment. A Left-Ambedkarite-Feminist Moment where a unqiue understanding and solidarity is emerging. It is a historic moment for an autonomous students movement.“
Which of us are “nationalistic” as defined by the Sanghis?
Muslims are not
Adivasis are not
Ambedkarites are not
Victims of Displacement like the Narmada Valley Survivors are not
JNU ites are not
Those who oppose Nuclear weapons are not
Feminists are not
Non Hindi speakers are not
But they are a minority:
The real anti-nationals are a very small lot despite the contingent fact that they hold state power”
Lecture by Nivedita Menon to the Teach In Classroom, JNU, February 2016
Ari Sitas: The JNU Admin Block is India’s Freedom Square
"Yabonga! We are at Freedom Square and there has been an incredible show of self-restraint by JNU students.
’ You sent us a Mohandas we sent you back a Mahatma’
Well renowned South African sociologist, writer, dramatist and civil activist,now at Centre for Historical Studies, JNU as a Visiting Professor in the Bhagat Singh chair.
Ari Sitas Lecture to the Teach In Classroom, JNU, February 2016
G Arunima : The Dravdian as the National Imagination
Arunima enthralled students bringing in the regional within the national imagination: dwelling in particular on Tamil Nadu and Kerala where language and the idea of the Dravidian created a national imagination. (Mysore rejected the idea of linguistic states saying that Mysore was already a multi-lingual state)
Lecture by G Arunima to the Teach In Classroom, JNU, February 2016
Ayesha Kidwai: a National Language was a dialect that came with an Army, a Navy and an Air Force.
Lecture by Ayesha Kidwai to the Teach In Classroom, JNU, February 2016
Achin Vanaik: Students Spark of a Progressive Movement
“Saluting you students and the student the community in general.From time to time students become the sparks for very positive and progressive movements worldwide. In the 1960s and 1970s, in fact in the United States of America, the two mass movements that in fact transformed the United States of America, the two great mass movements that transformed into a progressive direction the United States of America, did not come from the political parties, they came from outside the political parties and then the political parties had to accept them. They came from students in the civil rights movement, working against racism......
Lecture by Achin Vanaik to the Teach In Classroom, JNU, February 2016
Tanika Sarkar: Gandhi’s Nation
Lecture by Tanika Sarkar to the Teach In Classroom, JNU, February 2016
There is an Insurrection against the Constitution: Prabhat Patnaik
“Insurrection against the Constitution today by the anti-national Sangh Parivar.
(Incidentally the Constitution was even burnt as the activists owing allegiance to the sangh parivar attacked professor Vivek Kumar in Gwalior recently)
Prabhat Patnaik at JNU, February 2016
Support for JNU has been pouring im from all over the country and abroad. There have also been similar Teach Ins in Trivandrum and elsewhere