Communalism, Democratic Rights

Resist Fascist Attacks in Educational Institutions

Goondaism of RSS affiliated organizations was unleashed when Akhil Bhartiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) hooligans targeted a protest march by students and teachers from the gate of Ramjas College of Delhi University on February 22nd 2017. Students and teachers were protesting against cancellation of a Seminar on “Culture of Protests” which was scheduled to be held in Ramjas College a day earlier. This cancellation came on the demand of ABVP. This has assumed a pattern wherein Universities and Colleges are not permitting democratic discourses on the campuses invariably on the demand of ABVP. Action is often taken against the organizers for holding such meetings or discussions as was the case recently in Jodhpur (Rajasthan) where a teacher has been placed under suspension for organizing a lecture by JNU Professor, Ms. Nivedita Menon.
Campuses of the Institutions of higher learning in the country are being targeted by RSS to snuff out the culture of dissent against the policies of the rulers of the day. Scientific enquiry, critical assessments and questioning attitudes are sought to be snuffed out. It is vital for them so that their baseless, non-factual, Goebellsian propaganda on different aspects does not have to face any scrutiny. The intelligentsia is being targeted to decapitate the country, to make them uncritical followers of Sangh ideology whether by conviction or largely out of fear. What began with the attack on Ambedkar-Periyar Study Circle in IIT Chennai, through Rohit Vemula’s suicide in Hyderabad Central University, continued its shrill journey with the attack in JNU, fanning out to be an all out attack encompassing several universities and colleges with Ramjas College of Delhi University its latest victim.
RSS has taken charge of this offensive, pressing its affiliate ABVP into attack. Autonomy of the Institutions of higher learning is only for namesake and their heads are people of straw, appointed for their proximity to power. No wonder a large number of them made a beeline to prostrate before the RSS head soon after BJP came to power at the Centre. They are willing to be accomplices in this nefarious design of RSS for their petty gains. A complaint by ABVP is enough for them to ban any activity, the rest is guaranteed by ABVP hoodlums with the full cooperation of the police and administration. The Ramjas College incident where ABVP launched their violent attack, has once again demonstrated the complicity of police with the majority communal forces.
All these attacks are done to harness communal polarization in the name of their plank of ‘nationalism’. RSS is trying to foist its understanding of nationalism on the intellectual discourse in the country. In a country which is oppressed by foreign imperialist forces, patriotism targeting exploitation and oppression of the country is a positive. But RSS nationalism has nothing to do with opposition to imperialism, rather it advocates subservience to imperialist powers. RSS nationalism is devoid of its positive content. It is more in league with the so-called nationalism which is sweeping the developed capitalist countries targeting poor immigrants from third world countries.
RSS nationalism has its roots in the machinations of British colonial rulers and comprises aspects which serve the interests of the present day ruling classes. After suppression of the First All India War for Independence in 1857, British colonialists encouraged a rendering of history to serve their objective of dividing the people of this country, particularly the two large religious groups. There have been attempts to trace Indian nationalism, which developed in the course of struggle against British colonial rule, to ancient cultural roots, to ancient Hinduism particularly its caste division. Many leaders of the then Congress, though articulating composite nationalism on the one hand, hailed the continuity of an old Indian ‘nation’ from those ancient roots. Secondly, the roots of the said Indian nation were planted in the carving out of a nation from the state. From this angle, British ruled India was conceived and propagated as a nation. This served the British colonial rulers, as any rebellion against their rule was looked down upon and which made great Indian patriotic revolutionaries like Bhagat Singh, Ashfaqullah, Chandrashekhar Azad and others into terrorists out to overthrow this state. From this perspective, Indian nationhood has adjusted to the new boundaries after partition of the country in 1947. Any movement challenging these boundaries becomes anti-national irrespective of the historical causes or justification of the movement and defending these boundaries by whatever means is nationalism. Unlike the west where generally nation formed the state, in countries like India state formed the nation. Such rendering of nationalist discourse therefore had nothing to do with anti-colonial struggle. In fact it is its opposite. No wonder its present protagonist had deliberately kept itself aloof from the anti-colonial struggle of the Indian people.
RSS nationalism upholds Indian nationalism as cultural, rooted in ancient Hinduism as applicable to the present day. While ancient history has traversed a chequered course, its rendering by Hindu nationalists is linear embodying all that was reactionary and divisive in different periods of history. There is not a single period of history in India which they uphold, rather they manufacture a queer synthesis of different aspects from different periods. For example they are trying to portray medieval history as that of wars between Hindu and Muslim Kings while Hindus and Muslims had fought on all sides in this warring feudal period. The most cherished aspect of Indianness for Hindu nationalists is its caste system which stands for upper caste domination. Their periodic statements against reservation are no accident nor their unleashing of violence against Dalits and other oppressed castes. While need to secure their votes for gaining or retaining power through elections makes them resort to what is called ‘social engineering’, it is only symbolic. It does not entail changing the social structure but only superficially tinkering with it.
Since coming to power at the Centre, RSS-BJP Govt. has unleashed its nationalist plank woven around projecting security forces as symbols of nationalism. This discourse serves many purposes for RSS-BJP. The first and foremost among them is an attempt at turning the people against struggles bursting out in different parts of the country. It takes in its ambit of attack the struggles of people of Jammu & Kashmir and North-East, the struggles of minority nationalities. It also includes attacks against the revolutionary struggles of the people in different parts of the country which are facing crude suppression by police and paramilitary forces. It is not accidental that RSS affiliate ABVP shouted slogans against both struggles of Kashmiri people and also struggle of tribals in Central India. This attack couched as nationalism is essentially against the people of the country and their struggles. It is an attempt to poison the minds of the people against these struggles and justify the brutal suppression unleashed by the Govt. through security forces. It is an attempt to sidetrack the issues of democratic rights and to glorify this suppression even disregarding constitutional rights of the people. Officers of police and security forces which mock at these rights are hailed as heroes and observance of these rights is portrayed as an undesirable hindrance.
RSS has an even larger gameplan to dominate the intellectual discourse. Besides targeting the struggles of the people, RSS is targeting its ideological opponents. RSS takes Left as its ideological enemy. Besides suppressing revolutionary Left, RSS is also trying to target the very Left ideology. RSS and its affiliates are demanding ban on Left student activism on the campuses. Besides the nefarious designs behind this demand, it is also a recognition of the fact that neither can their ideological ware stand scientific scrutiny nor does their activism stand for the interests of the student community. To dominate intellectual life in the country, they are out to destory it. They are restricting access of students to higher education, particulary those from Dalits, Tribals and backward castes, backward regions, women and economically weaker sections. Hence their emphasis on privatization of education. For this they are cutting aid to institutions of higher education, granting them ‘autonomy’ thus forcing them to raise money and thereby increase costs of higher education and doing away with any preferential points to deprived sections. RSS, which has established its cells in the universities and other institutions of higher learning, is talking of autonomy not to grant academic autonomy but only financial autonomy thereby exonerating Govt. from its responsibility towards education.
RSS attacks through its affiliate, ABVP, thus pose a sinister challenge to the academic life in the institutions of higher learning, their democratic functioning to whatever extent it exists and to the culture of student activism in universities and colleges. Students have historically fought not only for themselves but also for society. They joined the revolutionary movement including anti-colonial struggles in large numbers. But RSS wants an end to student activism and only ABVP to function among the students. RSS attempts to crush student movement should be and would be rebuffed. As Mao had said with reference to May 4th Movement in China, whosoever has sought to suppress the students has come to grief. Attempt of RSS cannot lead to anything else.
RSS and its affiliates like BJP and ABVP are neither democratic nor patriotic. They stand for unbridled exploitation of India by imperialist countries, they work for unchecked oppression of the vast sections of Indian people and they are working to disrupt the unity of the Indian people, all these go against genuine patriotism. Backed by corporate media, supported by tiny though powerful section of the elite and aided by the reactionaries dominating administrative and security agencies, RSS is painting all those opposed to it as anti-national. Attacks of RSS must be resisted & defeated.