Shashi Tharoor on nationalism

In the ongoing JNU lecture series, the latest is Shashi Tharoor. Here is his speech:

And before Tharoor, Kanhaiya Kumar spoke as the opening act:


The news — and views — in briefs

#1. Read M Rajshekhar on the lucrative trade in Rajya Sabha seats:

According to the former Congress MP, the legislative arithmetic in these states creates a market for buying and selling Rajya Sabha seats. A third big party that has some seats but not enough to nominate its own members to the Rajya Sabha can capitalise on its numbers. This is likely, he says, if the small party has been out of power for long – and is cash-strapped.

#2. Boring, but very important: The BJP national executive that met in Delhi over the weekend passed a resolution that is worth reading in full, and remembering as the year ahead unfolds.

#4. Speaking at the executive meet, Prime Minister Narendra Modi told his partymen to avoid controversies. The reported statement seems along the lines of the established right wing narrative — that there is a vast left-wing machinery lying in wait for any excuse to play ambush politics. This neatly shifts the narrative from the acts themselves, to the motives of those who question various acts — but let that lie. I’m hoping Modi’s partymen were listening — and will respect his views. We could do with a lessening of the political temperature in this country.

#4. For Holi week, a brief history of bhang.

#5. The best thing to have come out of the JNU fracas is the teach-in program featuring academics and others speaking on nationalism and related subjects (Several of which have been posted on this blog earlier). Here, the announcement for the next series (Follow Stand With JNU for updates):


The politics of language

A JNU professor made a speech that questioned some of the deeply held beliefs of the Left. For his sins, he was heckled, booed, and “made to face questions from his audience”.

In all this, the current Public Enemy Number One, Kanhaiya Kumar, was the ringleader.

I got all of this from this “story” (maybe there is a reason why we call articles “stories”, after all).

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JNU lecture series: Makarand Paranjape

The latest in the ongoing series:

Paranjape’s set up is pure gold:

I think one of the things that makes JNU, that makes us, important to the nation is precisely this platform, this stage, this alternative performative where we can actually demonstrate our ideas, our disagreements, how to think clearly in fact, rather than the other performative which I would say is mesmerizing. When Kanhaiya came out of jail and gave his talk, I was a convert, I was also swaying and dancing around with everyone, it was a great moment. But what I am going to do today is to emphasize this other performative, where we talk about ideas, we are objective, we are critical, we don’t get carried away, we are open-minded, we are able to interrogate and critique ourselves and not just mount attacks on people we disagree with, and indeed also check factually incorrect statements, you know, the sources of our ideas and so forth.

For once, the students found themselves vis a vis a professor who was saying things that militated against their worldview. Good. A little discomfort is good — it teaches you that there is more than one way of looking at anything.


And here, Soni Sori speaking to JNU students.

PS: Off blog till late evening.

The “hidden hand” problem

I totally love how the teaching staff — or at least, a sizeable segment thereof — at JNU has backed the students during the ongoing controversy. I also love how they’ve entered into the spirit of things, and are taking time, through the lecture series, to discuss with students the various shades of nationalism.

I wish though that Professor Jayati Ghosh, one of their number, hadn’t done this:

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JNU lecture series: Harbans Mukhia

One more in the series:

JNU Lecture Series: Romila Thapar

In the public domain, the discussion continues along predetermined lines: Someone we won’t identify shouted slogans, Kanhaiya Kumar is therefore anti-national, therefore all of JNU is a hotbed of deshdrohis… And so it goes, in a manner reminiscent of the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party.

Meanwhile in JNU, the students do what they are supposed to. Inquire. Seek. Listen. Engage. Debate.

In the ongoing JNU lecture series, Romila Thapar speaks on a nation and its many histories:

Thapar quotes Eric Hobsbawm to set up her premise:

“History is to nationalism what the poppy is to the opium addict”

When you are done, here — the previous lectures in the series.