Nationalism class at JNU: You cannnot define nation by forcing someone to toe a line

At around 6 pm, teachers formed a semi-circular human chain around hundreds of students who sat on the ground outside the administrative block in rapt attention, some taking notes.

Written by Aranya Shankar | New Delhi | Published:February 18, 2016 4:04 am
JNU students at a protest against the arrest of JNUSU president Kanhiaya Kumar inside the campus Wednesday. (Express Photo Tashi Tobgyal) JNU students at a protest against the arrest of JNUSU president Kanhiaya Kumar inside the campus Wednesday. (Express Photo Tashi Tobgyal)

It was a class unlike any other at Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU). At around 6 pm, teachers formed a semi-circular human chain around hundreds of students who sat on the ground outside the administrative block in rapt attention, some taking notes. Many also occupied the steps to listen to the speaker. In the centre of them all stood Professor Gopal Guru speaking on ‘What is the nation?’

“This subject is important because some definitions of nation are simply unwarranted judgments. It is a serious problem that we are confused about what a nation is. For some of us, the response comes from emotions… I’m not to be bullied by somebody’s emotional definition of nation. You cannot define nation by forcing somebody to toe a line,” said Guru in his class, which was being live streamed.

Wednesday saw the first of the classes on nationalism that JNU teachers have decided to hold in the campus everyday in the evening, to counter the “anti-national” tag accorded to the students for organising an event on the death anniversary of Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru.

Share This Article
Share
Related Article

Several well-known academics including Tanika Sarkar, Mridula Mukherjee, Achin Vanaik, Nivedita Menon and Ayesha Kidwai are scheduled to deliver lectures on various aspects of nationalism in the coming days.

With two cameras pointing at him, and many more phone cameras recording his speech, Guru spoke about the difference between nation and the state, and the nation and the government. “There is a tension between nation and state and the latter is becoming much more powerful. For understanding nation, we need to imagine nation in terms of the aspirations it is promising. It is not based on rumour, insecurity or humiliation. Today, there is growing stigmatisation and you can’t build a nation based on stigma,” said Guru.

Amidst claps from both students and teachers, Guru also spoke about the Centre’s Swachh Bharat Abhiyan. “The whole scheme is based on somebody’s labour, because you need the sanitation workers to make Bharat “swachh”. But you see a separation between the social and the economic, with only stress on the latter. If somebody dies in a manhole, you don’t speak. You must connect the social and the economic,” he said.

Talking about symbolism, Guru said there was a choice between following the symbolism of the Chakra or the symbolism of Bharat Mata. “Every spoke of the chakra has to go up and come down at some point. It is more egalitarian in that sense. We need to see which symbolism is better, the Chakra or the symbolism of Mother India,” he added.

For all the latest India News, download Indian Express App now

  1. B
    bansi gopal
    Mar 24, 2017 at 5:38 am
    could not understand anything, what he was trying to say. anyhow leftists are strange group of people.
    Reply
    1. A
      Anonymous
      Feb 18, 2016 at 3:43 pm
      i am sorry but non of JNU students should be hired in corporate world. they are pestisides.
      Reply
      1. J
        Jay
        Feb 19, 2016 at 5:25 am
        ur alreay are
        Reply
        1. J
          Jay
          Feb 19, 2016 at 10:56 am
          what the f are u in india teacher...tax payers ki money jo nationalist unke paise se roti khane mein sharam nahi aati tujhe gaddar
          Reply
          1. M
            MyTake
            Feb 19, 2016 at 5:03 am
            Guru, one question. Whose duty is to TEACH responsibility? Understood terrorists' duty is to teach terrorism and they are doing it well. What you give in return to the people when you take their money in exchange when you pose as teacher? Did say TEACH-er? Yes, I did. By the way why media now going on overdrive when Ram, Sham, Jadu, Madu ggiving "lectures" here and there? Where they were all these days??
            Reply
            1. G
              Gurdev
              Feb 19, 2016 at 2:07 am
              Yes they are parasites who are fed in the university on public money and they will keep eating this public money w of their life sitting in some government department or organisation like most of them are doing now
              Reply
              1. S
                Saurabh
                Feb 18, 2016 at 6:45 am
                ABVP and RSS are no benchmark for patriotism. They had hardly any role in Indias independence movement. They want to glorify some old vedic culture and own them and want to establish that as a Indian culture for their vested interests and also to come to power.
                Reply
                1. S
                  Saurabh
                  Feb 18, 2016 at 6:39 am
                  Commenting here will do nothing if you have guts then go Delhi and close it...
                  Reply
                  1. S
                    Saurabh
                    Feb 18, 2016 at 6:37 am
                    When you can't reply meaningfully then you people abuse using derogatory language. Is this what you have been thought..?
                    Reply
                    1. S
                      Saurabh
                      Feb 18, 2016 at 5:32 pm
                      Don't worry they be hired in government services.
                      Reply
                      1. A
                        Abhijit Bhattacharya
                        Feb 18, 2016 at 4:43 pm
                        Why to waste such talent by serving the Adanis and Ambanis of the world?
                        Reply
                        1. S
                          Sane Indian
                          Feb 18, 2016 at 6:16 pm
                          What is my opinion ? Here you go. JNU sjhould be shutdown and relocated to Cuba, Venezeula or wherever the rotten idelology is still leaving its rotten last breath..If not, people will force it happen and that I am afraid may be bloody violent..I dont wish that..
                          Reply
                          1. Q
                            qwekids
                            Feb 19, 2016 at 3:26 am
                            Then please stop slary of this s .. they will first attaxch emotionally to India
                            Reply
                            1. A
                              ambrish
                              Feb 19, 2016 at 6:22 pm
                              NO WONDER WHY JNU STUDENTS ARE CONFUSED WHEN THEY HAVE INTELLECTUALLY BANKRUPT GURUS LIKE THIS GUY.
                              Reply
                              1. C
                                ccccccc
                                Feb 18, 2016 at 10:15 am
                                Great! I wish they had shown this entusiasm in not hosting kashmiri separatists on the campus...
                                Reply
                                1. C
                                  ccccccc
                                  Feb 18, 2016 at 10:17 am
                                  i pity at your history knowledge...saying that ABVP had no role in India's freedom struggle is like saying why did Krishna not come to Sita's rescue in ramayana!! How moronic!
                                  Reply
                                  1. M
                                    Md. Asif
                                    Feb 18, 2016 at 10:16 am
                                    Check the spelling of cannnot used in Headline..
                                    Reply
                                    1. M
                                      Md. Asif
                                      Feb 18, 2016 at 10:20 am
                                      JNU Turmoil seems pre-planned as it ume to be International...:)
                                      Reply
                                      1. S
                                        Sandeep
                                        Feb 18, 2016 at 1:22 am
                                        Let JNU be FTII . let it closed indefinately. But flushing out Leftist, anti nationals should be priority.Let Italian Mothers, / musolinni,s followers g son say any thing
                                        Reply
                                        1. B
                                          Bolo Ram
                                          Feb 20, 2016 at 3:19 am
                                          A like you should not call others intolerant. Now that anti national activities are not allowed by minorities,it is "Intolerance" -right?
                                          Reply
                                          1. D
                                            Devender Kumar
                                            Feb 18, 2016 at 5:03 am
                                            Writer should leave the country , we don't want such freedom of expression where you don't give respect to the country.... With this one think is clear we should be ruled by some like Hitler.... We Indians are " latho ke bhoot jo bathoo se nahi manthe.."
                                            Reply
                                            1. Load More Comments