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JNU needs Swami Vivekananda’s spirit, teachings to help it scale new heights

Even when showered with global praise and a legion of renowned followers, Swami Vivekananda loved his tattered orange cloth. He taught us kingly values. These will permeate JNU now and make it grand.

Written by Rashmi Das | Updated: November 30, 2020 9:03:10 am
The Vivekananda statue at JNU. (Express Photo: Tashi Tobgyal)

Swami Vivekananda will give JNU its nationalist spine. In his lecture on “Six Lessons on Raja Yoga,” he said: “Take care of the spine, everything happens along the spine.” Vivekananda was a spiritual generalissimo. In his lifetime, his visage and work evoked awe and reverence from university bigwigs, industry captains, top opera artists and an array of intellectuals. To an enslaved nation facing an imperial world order, he gave us our manliness.

It is therefore fitting that a Vivekananda statue in JNU has been installed at the entrance of the administrative block. As Swamiji had instructed, this statue will inspire to “tell the truth boldly, whether it hurts or not. Never pander to weakness. If the truth is too much for intelligent people and it sweeps them away, let them go; the sooner the better.”

Many in the JNU faculty could benefit from Vivekananda’s lectures on karma yoga. They are in dire need of it. Performance culture, tenacious hard work, selflessness, honesty, the emotional experience that is India — they are bereft of such realisations. Having converted their centres and schools into leftist swamps, they have survived on past regurgitations of stale theories. Many of them have routinely shirked their teaching responsibilities during the pandemic. Their indolent excuses citing capacity constraints would make the communications industry of India squirm. These faculty members have said that they teach big classes and are not able to accommodate the number of students. Truth be told, the university has conducted over a dozen webinars to teach faculty members how to use the latest online tools so that any number of students can be taught — not only for JNU faculty, the university has trained 5,000 teachers across the country in the use of online learning and evaluation methods.

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The participation of the left-leaning faculty in such webinars has been extremely poor. Many are unaware that such webinars are held, despite the university posting these details regularly. The culture of non-performance in these left swamps is another contagion that the university has to grapple with. These faculty members hawk around in the name of the student community but in reality, they are the most malevolent anti-student force and relentlessly cause damage to the university system.

This behaviour was evident in the run up to the conduct of the JNU Entrance Exam (JNUEE) 2020-21. While many faculty members of different Schools and Centres went to the office of National Testing Agency (it conducts all important educational entrance tests like JEE-Mains, NEET, UGC-NET), to set the questions papers for JNUEE, some deans and chairpersons played saboteurs and refused to cooperate. The Academic Council in its latest meeting, 155 (B), took “serious note” and referred this to the Executive Council of JNU, (the highest decision-making body of the university) for suitable action.

The 290th Executive Council (EC) meeting held on November 25, has classified this as a grave misconduct of service rules. The EC has constituted a fact-finding committee to identify the recalcitrant faculty members so that suitable penalties may be meted out to them. The fact-finding committee is headed by Rajneesh Shukla, the Visitor’s nominee to the EC; deans of two schools who will be named shortly, will also be part of this committee.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, while unveiling the Vivekananda statue narrated an episode from Swamiji’s life. During his travels to the West, Vivekananda was often ridiculed for his saffron robes. On one such occasion, an Englishman chided him and said, “why don’t you dress up as a gentleman?”. With his characteristic mirth, Swamiji responded, “in your culture, tailor maketh a gentleman, in ours character makes one a gentleman”.

Explained | The row over the Vivekananda statue that PM Modi unveiled at JNU

The relevance of this message should be high priority for JNU.

Some self-styled intellectuals of the leftover variety are harried by the Vivekananda statue, more so by “tattered orange cloth” with which it was covered prior to his unveiling. Even when showered with global praise and a legion of renowned followers, the monk loved his tattered orange cloth. He taught us kingly values. These will permeate JNU now and make it grand.

This article first appeared in the print edition on November 30, 2020 under the title ‘Who’s afraid of Vivekananda?’. The writer is member, Executive Council, Jawaharlal Nehru University and editor, TelecomLive & InfraLive

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