Cameraperson: Nitin Chopra & Sumit Badola
Video Editor: Rahul Sanpui
Indian universities were never aloof from politics. After 2014, however, a sense of unease prevails at campuses across India.
The sheer scale of protests inside universities in the last four years has taken everyone by surprise. Academicians like Professor Apoorvanand who teaches at the University of Delhi (Hindi Department) blame the Modi government for mishandling student protests.
“We saw unrest in Hyderabad Central University, we saw unrest in IIT Chennai, we saw unrest in FTII, we saw unrest in Jawaharlal Nehru University, we saw unrest in Ramjas College (Delhi University) and other places as well. What were the reasons? This is unprecedented because this is the first time in independent India that the ruling party is waging a war against students.”Prof Apoorvanand
In a book titled The Idea of a University, Prof Apoorvanand along with other academicians have argued in favour of more academic freedom at higher education institutions.
In February 2016, thousands of students protested at the Jawaharlal Nehru University after an event to mark the hanging of 2001 Parliament attack convict, Afzal Guru, was disrupted by ABVP members. Three students were charged with sedition.
With Union ministers and media taking sides as the controversy turned into a JNU vs State fracas, many wondered whether it was an ideological clash.
“I won’t even say it’s an ideological clash. It’s an attack on these students who want to dissent by students who feel beholden to the state.”Prof Apoorvanand
According to Prof Apoorvanand, the problem lies with the BJP-led government trying to ‘impose a certain kind of nationalism on all of us’.
“Here is a right-wing government, which professes a specific kind of nationalism, which it feels should be the only and official nationalism all Indians should practise. And it wants to impose this version of nationalism on all of us.”Prof Apoorvanand