Years ago, there was a certain, highly coveted institution of magical learning that was shut down.
The Ministry of Magic disagreed with its practices and the Daily Prophet went on to spread lies about its functioning.
Cornelius Fudge was on a rampage and Dolores Umbridge was appointed to take matters into their control.
What happened next was a series of acts to punish students, eductional decrees that prohibited them from basic functions like going in groups and having discussions.
No opposition was allowed or tolerated. Will this be our future?
As a graduate student in Delhi University, I would look at J.N.U with awe. Those students seemed so well informed and in control of their lives. They had stand points and opinions,had in depth understanding. They stood for what was right, what was human and made their opinion matter. They made headlines,they shaped politics, they made the present and they made history.
The three years in my Graduation, I wanted to be just like them.
The media has a very different, stereotypical understanding of what Jnuites are like.
“Khadi kurta donned charasis”
“Dadhi waale radicals”
Who, according to many, run the narcotics trade in this country.
J.N.U they believe is home to and a breeding ground for communists, radical feminists, anarchists, naxalites, maoists, and now even anti-nationals. These are beef eating, devil worshipping misguided stoned youth who are wasting tax-payers money.
However, in just the one year that I have spent in this place, I have seen a very different world.
A world where one can truly be themselves. Where every opinion was appreciated, even encouraged. Because all opinions deserve the same platform and equal respect.
I studied Political science for 3 years in graduation, and dissented the whole idea of politics vehemently.
But after coming to J.N.U I have truly understood who stands left, right and centre, and why. Because here I get to witness mere theory in active practice!
Most of us don’t even have political associations. Even I don’t adhere to any ideology or political association.
We see practical results, based on what the counsillors have done for the centres and then we caste our votes. Not once were we pressurised to follow an agenda. We joined in large numbers because their agendas made sense to us. We joined because we believed in their argument.
The recent events have been coloured with the wrong brush. Media trials and hashtag trends have distorted the truth.
What the students union did was merely support the rights of an alternative minority opinion to have its freedom of expression.
As is depicted by this very famous quote allegedly attributed to Voltaire.
“I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”
From where I stand, the situation has grown beyond what each of us thinks individually. There is no black and no white, just a whole lot of greys.
And amidst this, the unity of J.N.U is nothing short of beautiful.
We are united and are very clear in what we stand for. And that is the sanctity of J.N.U as a democratic space.
In our opinion nothing justifies police presence on campus or Bajrang Dal on our gates questioning students.
The fact that I was scared to express my opinion for all these days, is proof of the fear that the current scenario has left on us.
Today it is J.N.U, tomorrow it could be any other University.
But, yesterday I saw almost 20,000 people on the streets of Delhi, Teachers, students, social activists, city dwellers, karamcharis even Journalists. All supporting the idea of J.N.U and its cultural ethos. All supporting the idea of democracy in educational institutions.
Voltaire, in his Treatise on Toleration(1763) said,
“The supposed right of intolerance is absurd and barbaric. It is the right of the tiger; nay, it is far worse, for tigers do but tear in order to have food, while we rend each other for paragraphs.”
This can be paraphrased to fit our digital age of TRPs and Retweets.
But the matter of the fact remains that Jnuites are as much a part of this great Indian Democracy as anyone else.
As students and as citizens of this great nation I think everyone has a right to be heard.
I am proud of this nation and its institutions that work for the people, but I am also proud of this educational institution I worked so hard to get in.
Because today if I can have an informed opinion, about a pleothora of subjects across the canvas globally, it is because that I get to live in breathe in this space. It is J.N.U that has given me the courage to stand for others, and the confidence to stand up for myself. And I hope that its sanctity shall remain sacrosanct.
And if you were to ask me, I’d do it all over again.