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Tuesday, September 28, 2021

JNU student groups, teachers’ association slam VC for ‘holistic’ statement on counter-terrorism course

JNU Students’ Union vice-president Saket Moon said vice-chancellor Jagadesh Kumar's comments did not address the main issue of singling out a religion and a few countries.

Written by Aranya Shankar | New Delhi |
September 2, 2021 12:02:06 pm
The Indian Express had reported Monday that the course titled ‘Counter Terrorism, Asymmetric Conflicts and Strategies for Cooperation among Major Powers’ was passed in the academic council, allegedly without discussion, on August 17. (File/Representational)

Several Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) student groups and teachers’ associations have slammed vice-chancellor M Jagadesh Kumar for calling the new counter-terrorism course to be taught to engineering students “holistic”. Kumar had Wednesday said the criticism of it was “needless controversy” without going into the “academic merits” of the course.

The Indian Express had reported Monday that the course titled ‘Counter Terrorism, Asymmetric Conflicts and Strategies for Cooperation among Major Powers’ was passed in the academic council, allegedly without discussion, on August 17. The course asserts that “Jihadi terrorism’ is the only form of “fundamentalist-religious terrorism”, and that the erstwhile Soviet Union and China were the “predominant state-sponsors of terrorism” that influenced “radical Islamic states”.

JNU Students’ Union vice-president Saket Moon said Kumar’s comments did not address the main issue of singling out a religion and a few countries. “The main issue of using terms like “Jihadi violence” was not addressed. He has said it is a world-accepted fact, which means he’s peddling the RSS ideology. A course like this needs to have more balance and should include all forms of political violence, including those from the Hindu Right-wing. We demand that this course be rolled back,” Moon said.

JNU Teachers’ Association secretary Moushumi Basu said, “international Relations is a diverse subject and much more than states a study of relations between them. Epistemologically it has grown to embrace several diverse approaches and concerns – the present set of IR courses does not do justice to the discipline and, in fact, turns the clock back. The VC’s comment is silent on the process whereby such a course has come to be introduced, without any critical scrutiny.”

Fawaz Shaeen, national secretary of the Students’ Islamic Organisation, said the course “seeks to reinforce the misinformed ideas about Islam and Muslims”. “It’s ironic that the vice-chancellor talks about evolving India’s perspective in a ‘holistic and objective’ manner, considering the course material for the ‘counter-terrorism’ programme reads like a propaganda pamphlet rather than an academic document… It’s disingenuous of the vice-chancellor to say that the country saw the rise of religious fundamentalism and radicalisation ‘through perverse ideologies in its neighbourhood’ when India has a long and well-documented history of communal violence and majoritarian hatred that finds its origin in the home-grown fascist ideologies.”

Jitendra Suna from the Birsa Ambedkar Phule Students’ Association said the affiliation of “terrorism to religion and that too only to Islam” was an “atrocious and yet another vicious ploy of the Hindutva regime to creating an imagined enemy which will benefit them in creating binary of Hindu and Muslim”.

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