Modi’s siege on JNU: Hindutva’s battle for India’s classrooms is out in the open: Mitali Saran

Modi’s siege on JNU: Hindutva’s battle for India’s classrooms is out in the open: Mitali Saran

Here’s a rough theory about the Left and the Right. The basic temperamental difference between the Left-inclined and Right-inclined electorate seems to boil down to their relationship with otherness and authority.

The Left tends to be inclusive of otherness. It thrives on diversity and churn; its ideal social structure is relatively flat and fluid. It understands the merits of intellectual critique and challenge to authority, because it understands the value of social, educational, artistic, and political innovation. Its vision of the future is of an increasingly equal society with increasing personal freedoms.
The Right tends to draw its sense of well-being from a firmer, more vertical social structure, in which there is a clear chain of command and in which everyone knows their place, and stays there.

It tends to view otherness with suspicion and/or fear. It defers to established hierarchies of power, wealth, religion, gender, caste, class, and age. And since the law is Left-inclined and designed to safeguard the individual, the Right is more inclined to ignore it and dispense street justice. Just bear that theory in mind. JNU is only the newest battleground

The clusterfuck that is the current row over Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) is not really about Kanhaiya Kumar’s alleged sedition. It is merely one episode in a colossal tussle between the Left and Right over a prize catch: education, the shaping of the future citizen.

And there is apparently no place too low to go in pursuit of that quest. The Indian state has criminally neglected education for decades. Despite plenty of primary schools, a Right to Education Act, and all the right policy noises, our education system is abysmal. Schools are often just empty rooms; teachers are absent or barely more literate than their students; a lack of infrastructure—from toilets to educational materials—hinders both enrolment and learning outcomes. Kids suffer the same social discrimination inside classrooms as they do outside.
Higher education has gotten more attention, and islands of excellence such as the Indian Institutes of Technology and JNU regularly produce people who do India proud. But in general, the absolutely crucial role of education in nation-building has suffered from an inexplicable lack of political backing.
Today’s central government, for all its dull-witted devotion to Vedic flying machines and cow urine, is sharply cognizant of the power of the classroom. And it will do all it can to capture it and cast it in its image. The Sangh Parivar is very clear about what kind of Indians it wants in India, and much more driven and organised in the pursuit of that aim.

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