Tuesday 20 November 2018

Mob-Mindedness, Minority Exclusion and Institutional Communalism in the School of Arts and Aesthetics


The present situation in the country is on the verge of total collapse into conflict between opposing sections of society and different warring communities. In the midst of the communal name-changing of places and mob-lynching of Muslims, women and Dalits, BAPSA raises the clarion call for unity of the oppressed, by which is meant the co-optation of the oppressed sections of society as masses ready to transform society! What a huge task that is set upon the shoulders of people who everyday live a life and death struggle with humiliation and fear and an organization like BAPSA only claims unity with certain reserve representatives who can be characterized as the lumpen elements of the populace like OBC forum and Muslim Students Front well known for their anti-student stances on education policies at the larger level, with no intent of political education. Why and how would they take up the task of political education when they do not have a political program! While the Left in JNU is raised and fought on issues both within and outside campus such as the water problem and the lack of availability of hostels, DTC workers strike, and the movement of manual scavenging of the sewage workers, BAPSA has only paid lip service and has put zero efforts to mobilize students on these pressing issues. In SAA, where we are blessed with the presence of Sanjay Kumar, a councilor from BAPSA, you can look around, inside and outside the department and not find a single statement or poster on these issues. These factors do not bother the students of SAA anymore.

Why? Because of the unity of the oppressed? Who are the oppressed? These are the people who “feel” oppressed. These are students from well-to-do families guilt-ridden in a department where no empathy is to be found or experienced from the lot of the oppressed coming from villages and studying in JNU. For the students of SAA, the students coming to study in JNU from the countryside in departments like SL,L&CS are the mob. With this characterization of the mob that supports the Left-unity because organizations like AISA have fought for their essential rights as a student like RGNF, MANF and MCM scholarships which students in SAA seldom avail, the students of SAA characterize themselves as the torchbearers of the struggle against oppression. How do they struggle against oppression? By means of personal slandering of professors and students who are against them and their agenda of identity politics and targeting those who refuse to reduce people based on their immediate identity and choose to look at what the individual has to offer as a social being. They would dare not target a professor like Y. S Alone and Naman Ahuja, the former because he is believed to be a Buddhist and the latter because his academic standards are much greater than so-called scholars like Kancha Iliyah. Also because of the fact that these professors have not been as actively participating in the struggle against the draconian JNU administration as the Dean Kavita Singh who was replaced by Mazhar Asif because of her stance against mandatory attendance and its vociferous critique in public spaces and Ranjani Majumar who has been fighting the battle in the court and is vital to the legal team of JNU students and teachers against the administration.  You must not make the distinction that the former are good and the latter are bad, for then you will make the mistakes like the politically bankrupt BAPSA and DSU. DSU is a marginal presence in the campus, along with BASO who claim to be Leftists, Marxists, communists and so on and so forth but no student in the campus would validate these false claims, except the students of SAA. This is not to say that is a critique of the students of SAA and their ideological field of thought. No, the students of SAA are brilliant and smartest. So smart apparently that the issues of the world and the global rise of the right would be discussed in their classrooms and they would still have no political line to offer outside of that space.

Whose fault is it? It is the fault of the students of SAA and their problem of not being able to correctly handle the antagonisms created in society that permeates into the campus and raises problems between the different sections of students and between students and teachers due to the fascist authoritarianism of the administration which is a cog of the start machinery as an instrument of the semi-feudal semi-colonial ruling class which creates conflicts where there is peace so that the disruption leads to dispossession which can be at some point seized by the ruling class. This the ruling class does by furthering their personal interests into the field of politics, like the kangaroo court of the students who impeached the teachers and demanded responses for baseless claims. None of the people in BAPSA or individually can substantiate these claims in front of the students, let alone the teachers if there was any iota of concrete consideration given to the students to think about what they were doing. This is how ideology functions. They do not know it but they are doing it, and by doing it they are pursuing their own ruin which is evident in Prof. Majumdar’s decision of no longer teaching MA students. What or more pertinently who has driven her to take this radical action in her professional career? The answer is: the so-called “radical” politics of SAA, which is simply opportunism under the guise of radicalism. The minimum requirements of any SAA student are that s/he has a laptop, a luxury that many students in JNU still cannot afford. The other requirement is the proficiency of the English language. Other than these two basic requirements, the rest is upon the student, as to how many movies the person has seen or how many books s/he has read. Political correctness and an informed stance on political situations is neither required nor encouraged.

This was explicit in the school GB M where students like Ajay Pateer, whose films are as bad as his sense of humor and political correctness and Naman whose ideology goes only so far as the logic of scoring weed from Subhash Nagar and drinking in Kaveri. This is not to pass moral or personal judgments on individuals like those passed regularly in school GBMs and the recent debacle of an all-students and faculty meeting. The purpose of this piece is to make people think as people and not as a mob. This is applicable to those like Apeksha and Devika who have seen the political situation for long and have done nothing more than sharing content on the department WhatsApp. What is to be expected of a department where the former councilor Sourodeep could not even produce a written document for the analysis of the work he had done under his ‘reign’ when the movement against mandatory attendance led to the lockdown and Sourodeep was present in the capacity of BAPSA. One person is the capacity of BAPSA! And so it is that in SAA, what is practiced in the name of politics is the bare minimum. What else would you expect from a centre where students only talk about websites, memes and what is going wrong in their measly lives! The students of SAA are not a force of movement as they had proven with the downfall of the lockdown, to which BAPSA again only paid lip service and DSU was nowhere to be found!The students of SAA are a mob, and that is the reason they care so much about the minority question because they are guilty. They are a force that effects actions like mob-lynching and exclusion of marginal identities. The radical politics of the students should be directed more and more outwards but here we regretfully see the opposite happening. DSU and BASO as a marginal presence is tolerated by BAPSA in SAA so long as they are monkeys rubbing each other’s backs. Here they find no stratagems of conflict, because both DSU and BAPSA are opportunists whose politics will only benefit the ruling class. In the name of minority exclusion in SAA, these forces, or wisps of air are actually propagating communal politics by antagonizing the student community and the teaching community as two communities with opposing interests. The notion that a Dalit or a Muslim student is more exploited in the campus is baseless so long as nothing is done to empower them, and BAPSA has done nothing on this front, other than using this notion to create a mob of blind followers of agendas that ultimately serve the interests of the administration as it would be easier for the admin to put pressure on students and teachers separately. It cannot be denied that minority representation in SAA is abominable, and that is why communally speaking we have seen a lineage of Hindu councilors, savarna until BASPA came to the rescue, and Prof. Soumyabrata and Prof. Alone came to BAPSA’s rescue, as much as they could in their own personal terms. Because remember, “personal is political” is the ultimate motto of politics in SAA. There is no such thing as social. But what has BAPSA rescued the students from? From the social? Perhaps but… NO! The answer: their consciousness and reason. 
The real question then has to be posed: who needs mobs? Who needs to be in mobs? People who cannot fight for themselves and people who can make use of this uselessness; in a nutshell, cowards. The students of SAA in particular are afraid of what the students in JNU in general are afraid of and there is little need to mention it here because as has been stated before, the students are SAA are the smartest. They are not foolish but cowards, or at least motivated by cowardice. Why would they not be cowards? They are part of an institution, an institution much like the prison and the courts, an apparatus of the state. A civil service aspirant is not very different from a SAA student who spends his evenings and nights cooped up in reading spaces making their own labor a point of universal crisis to achieve resolution or redemption in the success of achieving an opportunity on passing the exams. So students of SAA are also opportunists and see situations, gravely politically incorrect ones like the signing of the letter, as an opportunity of having done a political task and brushing their hands off this dirty work, getting back to their ivory tower, i.e. in the reading space of the library. The opportunist rend in the students is what mobilizes them towards BAPSA and their political activities. An activist in AISA for instance, will have to paste posters, meet and discuss issues with students at the dhabas, got to each room of the hostel to notify them of any events happening and in this way build a political presence in the campus. The affiliates of BAPSA, and it is no error if it is written as BASPA in places (for two reasons, one is the that both of them practice identity politics along caste and religious lines using feudal consciousness and the other is the affiliation of leaders they uphold like Mayawati and Kashinath), formulate their politics in negation to the political work of the organized left, much like DSU/BASO (once they were one :() and their criticism is only limited in words.
 As soon as they are transformed into deeds, they create divisions within students through their hollow rhetoric which suits the hollow existence of SAA students and/as intellectuals, and someone or the other ends up being excluded. It is a paradox in politics that those fighting against exclusion exclude people from their struggles violently and deliberately, at least as violently as the left-leaning campus would allow. Now let us get a glimpse of what has happened structurally in the institution with the presence of these forces and the possibilities of what will happen. After successfully sidelining the actual champions of struggle because of who the students don’t even have to see the attendance registers, they have put students in a position that they are resentful, but still arrogant enough to believe the signature upholds a valid critique. The students of SAA are hopeless and helpless. Gone are the days when there was a move to constitute a grievance redressal cell between students and teachers, at least according to BAPSA, much like the demand Keerthana raised about having a regular gender sensitization cell, which culminated in one event and raised nothing out of it. Like Prof. Majumdar, Prof. Ira Bhaskar is also not taking any more classes for MA. If we apply the supply and demand logic of Sourodeep, , there is a demand of new professors, which is filled by Prof. Soumyabrata by calling his students to take classes, albeit unpaid but this would not be the case for very long. In light of the new national policies in education, there would be drastic rise in ad-hoc faculty which was never the case in JNU because of its indispensable academic excellence. This has paved way for the opportunist students and the opportunist BAPSA and the opportunist section of students to take the “risk” of signing the letter that impeaches the professors and make way for their own career as intellectuals in JNU, because the new intake of SAA students would see this step as heroic for the sheer violence in it. Sometimes, cowards are more prone to violence because of the fear that makes them show courage through cruel behavior, and heroism is not always bravery, but a historical feature of bourgeois individualism. It is the service of this bourgeois individualism that the students of in MA struggle with the professors as a class and mistake it for ‘class struggle’, when in actuality they are only fighting for themselves. For raising the issue of a Muslim student who was not admitted into the university, students like Debjyoti reduce the person to his immediate identity and fight for the absent presence of minority students in campus. This is the motto of SAA, to which the MA students follow Debjyoti quite heroically while paying no heed to the actual presence of minority students in SAA and their actual marginalized status. On the other hand, they further marginalize the minority so much so that they are forced to reduce every aspect of their social interaction along ethnic lines. In all of this certain things are clear as crystal, no struggle will achieve anything if it is undertaken by the students of SAA in this manner. This is a brand of politics serving the guilt-ridding mechanism of the students who have everything need in life, except a proper understanding of the world because they believe that they are the world and nothing is beyond them. This claim of self-righteousness in signing the letters to address discrimination is just co-optation into identity politics on moral grounds. There are two problems that arise out of it. One is that it denies any specific circumstantial considerations of the event and its validity form the side of the students more than the side of the teachers. The other is that as soon as the students of SAA believe they are right, they become right-wing in their firmness and lose all sense of self-criticism because they mistakenly believe themselves to be morally infallible in their position with respect to the issue of minority rights, and this is without any representation of the minority of that community among the signatories, if one is to borrow the logic of representation from BAPSA. The solution to the problem of discrimination does not lie with the students of SAA, because the students of SAA are discriminatory in nature, and this is not a personal judgment but the observation of people from other departments about SAA. In vain then, the foolish and coward students of SAA talk about justice in their department when their mobilization consists only in getting as much of their brethren as they can to lynch teachers.

The world of SAA students is communal, perhaps not as communal as BJP but most definitely similar to Congress, which pays lip service to the Muslims to increase their vote share and does nothing subsequently to improve their conditions. The students of SAA are soft-right in their radicalism if they are to be considered radical at all because in neoliberalism, these micro-political issues become rallying point for ethnic communities in their demise in ethnic conflicts, such as Suu Kyi in Myanmar and Putin in Russia. The hand with which Aakash and Debjyoti signed the poster near the canteen is the same hand which wields the machete to kill a Muslim for eating beef. The rise of micropolitics is the demise of a politics that is able to resolve differences, that is helpful in achieving certain goals in the course of social development. We need to address these issues of communalism and right-wing politics which is the weapon with which BAPSA has raised conflict upon the students and teachers and deliberately oppressed people in the name of the unity of the oppressed. The issues that must be brought to the GBM therefore must be the following:

Discrimination in the department and who is the authority to seek grievance

End to personal slandering and blaming students and teachers on moral grounds

Separate discussions forums for problems between students and problems between professors

Taking up the responsibility to ensure a more inclusive dialogue and not mobs, by the SFC

To state clearly the agenda of identity politics to besmirch the reputation of teachers

Ensure the professional integrity of students and teachers in the university

To lay aside all claims of anonymity and discuss things with the responsibility of an authority, even if it means becoming one

To address the question of false representation of minority is SAA by BAPSA

To repudiate the practice of mob-formation involving students without correct intent or clear consent.

End of Part I

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