At a time when there is a nationwide outrage in India about the anti-India sloganeering by fringe elements within the JNU campus and the left-liberal media is carrying out “Op-ed” styled coverage of the incident, the piece of advice coming from a Harvard university professor to the Vice-Chancellor of JNU comes as no surprise as the world is keenly watching the turn of events revolving the imbroglio. The West, especially the United State of America on various occasion has accused South Asian countries of curbing freedom of expression. But would any university in the USA allow its students to carry out celebration of the martyrdom of Osama Bin Laden? Is it not a treason there to call for the destruction of USA? Of course not. Indian state’s very sovereignty is being questioned by these secessionists posing as students and intellectuals in the garb of free speech. Why should Indian administration go soft on the seditious vitriol dished out by these anti-national elements?
In 2006, Vikram Buddhi, son of an Ex-Navy Captain and nuclear scientist, an award-winning student at Purdue University in the United States who was pursuing a double Ph.D. in cancer research was indefinitely incarcerated for allegedly threatening George Bush over a web discussion. No one in the United States bothered about his civil rights and right to free speech. Doesn’t it reek of double standards?
The Kent State university shootings are known to be one of the worst attacks on civil liberty. On May 4, 1970, Ohio National Guard guardsmen fired 67 rounds of bullets over a period of 13 seconds killing 4 students and wounding nine others, one of whom suffered permanent paralysis. Their fault – they were protesting against the Cambodian Campaign peacefully, which President Richard Nixon announced during a television address. Some of those who were shot were not even active participants in the protest and were walking nearby or observing the protest from a distance.
The Harvard professor in his e-mail to the VC says “The charge of sedition lodged with a student leader and the police action at JNU are violations of basic academic rights, freedoms which I have always associated with JNU”. But it is ironical coming from a Harvard professor when his own university never believed in freedom of speech. In December 2011, the university had terminated Dr. Subramanian Swamy’s from his duties as visiting professor for his critical column for Indian Daily News & Analysis newspaper in the backdrop of a terrorist attack in Mumbai. So much for free thoughts and liberal thinking one must say! Dr. Swamy’s column was labelled “hate speech”” that incited violence and subsequently, Harvard’s Faculty of Arts and Sciences voted to cancel Swamy’s scheduled summer 2012 courses. Those who live in glass houses must not throw stones at others. Sermonizing others on freedom of speech is easy, but those seeking the moral high ground need to introspect within themselves.
Although I never believed in New World Order and other conspiracy theories, but the increasing interference of Western interests in the everyday internal affairs of India does add fuel to the long-time accusation of right wing thinkers that there is a nexus of certain political groups with vested foreign forces. Ford Foundation anyone?!
“A nation can survive its fools and even the ambitious. But it cannot survive treason from within. An enemy at the gates is less formidable, for he is known and carries his banner openly. But the traitor moves amongst those within the gate freely.” quoted the HRD minister, Ms. Smriti Irani in the parliament responding to the ongoing JNU row that is gripping the nation. If we do not get our house in order, we give a chance for outsiders to poke their nose in our affairs. Can’t we all agree to unite as Indians on the issue of the sovereignty of the nation? Let us all forsake our egos and unite as Indians; we’ll get our chance to play petty politics some other day!