Within few hours after the ‘Home Coming’ speech by JNUSU leader Kanhaiaya Kumar in the campus on his return, annoyed BJP leader and Union Parliamentary Affairs Minister M. Venkaiah Naidu advised him to just shut up and not do "politics".
The problem is not with Mr Naidu as politics and studies were seen as two different things in the past when he was a student. Even to this day many parents hold the same view. Many do not understand that JNU is live even after dinner with some discussion, debate or meeting over some ideology or view point. These are major means of learning both sides of the coin for JNU students.
"He is enjoying the publicity. What is there? The question is let him condemn those slogans and distance himself from that. Let him help the authorities to see that such activities are curbed in the university," Naidu threw a piece of advice hastily, but the JNUSU leader has done it already and repeatedly.
"They must study and stay away from politics," said the minister. The minister from Nellore, being new to JNU’s academic style and discourse, has forgotten that this is the first question every student poses to seniors once he or she is inside the campus. The answer is universal cutting across all student wings of all political parties. "When politics decides your future, you should know what politics you choose to support."
We are living in a society that is full of politics. Your health, education, your tax, your lifestyle and your freedom — everything is decided by politics or political leadership of the country. "There is no avenue of politics it does not enter," said political scientist H.J. Laski to those who asked him the same question more than a century ago.
When your life is determined by politics, when your freedom is protected or curbed by politics, when your daily eating habits are tweaked by politics, when your religion is discussed and discerned by politics, how can any student or citizen keep away from politics, let alone students of JNU?
Unless students know both sides of the politics, how will they know whether Left is good or Right? The next obvious question is what ABVP is doing in all university campuses. So, BJP leaders, especially ministers, should not throw in unsolicited advice.
Students should be encouraged to probe all trysts and travails of life so they can emerge as true leaders of society. They should be encouraged to question everything the way US education system does. Then only we can have true genius students coming out of our universities. And that is the reason why so many JNU students shine outside so naturally.
It is time BJP ministers, including the HRD minister, take a close look at JNU and see what is so unique about this institution. The times have changed and the time is to advise students to discern themselves what is good and what is not. They should see both sides of the picture instead of becoming blind followers of parental advice in society. If Venkaiaah Naidu’s advice was taken by JNU since its inception, we would not have seen so many political and social leaders, leaving aside many game changers.