Open Letter to Manash Pratim Gohain PDF Print E-mail

KK Kak

It's nice to have you back after a gap of a few days, writing once again in the Times of India about JNU and Kanhaiya Kumar (what else?). I would like to compliment you on diversifying the subject of your articles -- at last you interview persons critical of the JNU situation, like ABVP leader Saurabh Sharma (, and Prof. Makarand Paranjape ( I am not clear how you concluded that Sharma 'probably' can't match Kanhaiya Kumar in oratory or Shehla Rashid in popularity - - as far as I know, he got roughly the same number of votes as Rashid did in the JNUSU polls, and we have no sample of his oratory to test against Kumar's -- 'probably' is an easy cover for you when the facts aren't conclusive. However, the most interesting part was the statement that `with Shehla and Rama busy with movements outside the campus and Kanhaiya not being very active, Sharma became the face of the JNUSU and he managed it well’. Well, well, we readers were under the impression, given recent coverage by you, that 'great hero' Kanhaiya Kumar spent all his time fighting for the poor and underprivileged -- now it appears that he didn't even exert himself in the JNUSU and let the ABVP guy do most of the work.

As you say, Sharma's background (son of a pharmacist) is nearly as humble as Kanhaiya's, his uncles helped fund his B Tech before he came to JNU and, in four years in JNU, he completed his M Tech and is doing his PhD in neuroscience. In contrast, Kanhaiya Kumar (as per Wikipedia) finished school in 2002, his graduation in 2007 (5 years for a BA!), and has been in JNU ever since (9 years -- how long does it take to do a PhD after graduation, and that too at taxpayer cost?). Better still, his PhD (should he actually complete it) will be in African Studies, which will help him get a job back in JNU, or maybe in the CPI. So, just which of the two is a better student role model? You read your own newspaper, Mr Gohain? You’ll have read Mangesh Khochade started his career in his early 20s, stopped getting his salary from Kingfisher Airlines in 2011 (when he was 24), took up a second job in a doughnut company for Rs 5000 / month and worked 16-hour days there. His father fell ill and died, and he didn’t have money even for his father’s barsi. His mother fell ill, and he had no money to help her. So -- at age 29, same as Kanhaiya – he managed to find a third, better-paying job. This is what people do who need to make a living to support themselves and their families. Unlike JNU’s perpetual students like Kanhaiya, they do not have time to play politics while living comfortably off the taxpayer. Also, as Prof. Paranjape pointed out, Kanhaiya couldn't even get his facts right in his big speech -- and when the professor said so, he was heckled by Kanhaiya and Kanhaiya's supporters -- apparently their commitment to freedom of expression is limited to themselves. In fact, not only are they selective in their commitment to freedom of expression, they are also graceless -- wishing JNU Registrar Bupinder Zutshi a happy birthday and simultaneously wishing JNU students a good riddance from him ( Even politicians wishing their rivals are not so graceless - - but manners are evidently not required to be a tolerant liberal of, at any rate, the JNU hero kind.

That manners are not required is even more evident from an incident last year when 'great hero' Kanhaiya Kumar was fined by the university for urinating in public and abusing a female student who protested. It is notable that you have not reported whether Kanhaiya Kumar, so vocal on everything else, has uttered a word on what has been said by Ms Kamlesh. Are we to assume then that the allegation is true, and that this great hero can't even find his way to a toilet in a place like JNU? And why has his mother, so vocal till now, suddenly gone silent? Can you please do another interview with her in which you ask her 1) whether she ever taught her son not to pee in public 2) whether she ever taught him to show respect for women 3) whether that Rs 3000 fine was also a conspiracy by the ABVP and the Central Government?

Another of your articles ( gives us a good idea of how these excessively tolerant and liberal (sarcasm intended) students got that way. Prof. Prabhat Patnaik warns against an attack on `inclusive nationalism’ and demands that `violation of the social contract (the Constitution) on which modern India is based, should be discussed’. He adds that `this kind of destruction of inclusive nationalism will lead to social disintegration of India’. Let me understand this -- `Bharat ki barbaadi tak jung ladenge’, `Bharat ke tukde tukde honge, inshallah’ is inclusive nationalism? How can demands for the destruction of the nation be inclusive nationalism? And violation of the Constitution should be discussed? In that case, what is the big problem even if the Central Government violates the JNU students' Constitutional rights to life, liberty,and freedom of expression -- we can all discuss it, right? And if so-called Hindutva radicals violate Constitutional provisions on equality of religion -- well, we can all discuss that as well, preferably over tea at Ganga dhaba. Readers will also be interested to know – why, Mr Gohain, did you not take the trouble to ask Prof. Patnaik? -- if his contention that destruction of the Afzal Guru / Bharat ki barbaadi type of inclusive nationalism, that will lead to social disintegration of India, is applicable at the micro level too. In other words if, instead of Bharat ki barbaadi, some inclusive nationalists go micro level and shout `Kanhaiya ki barbaadi tak jung ladenge’ or `JNU ke tukde tukde honge, inshallah’, does opposing that also lead to social disintegration of India?

If people in the liberal West exercise their freedom of expression and inclusive nationalism to deny the Holocaust (not indulge in violence, just verbally deny or justify it), they can get upto 1 year in jail in Belgium, 10 years in Austria, 3 years in the Czech Republic, 1 year in France, 5 years in Germany, 3 years in Hungary, 5 years in Israel, 6 months in Luxembourg, 3 years in Poland, 5 years in Romania and so on (thank you, Wikipedia!) -- presumably Prof. Patnaik would call them all failed states. Perhaps he – or you - could comment on 87-year-old Ursula Haverbeck, jailed for 10 months in Germany last year for calling the Holocaust a lie. Or Vincent Reynouard, jailed by France for 'disputing crimes against humanity'. Perhaps Prof. Patnaik too denies the Holocaust, and can get away with it in his socially-disintegrating India?

I'm not even talking about what happens to people accused of insulting Islam/Allah/Prophet anywhere in the Islamic world, or in India for that matter -- ask Shirin Dalvi, who was driven into hiding by Muslim mobs after her newspaper reproduced the Charlie Hebdo cartoons (the mobs also burnt down her office). She was later arrested for hurting religious sentiments -- what happened to freedom of expression and inclusive nationalism? Writer Fatima Nooat was sentenced to three years’ jail this year for contempt of religion when she criticized the slaughter of animals during Bakrid -- courtesy the Government of Egypt.

Or perhaps JNU could have a discussion on some of the more interesting provisions of the USA's Patriot Act, and the people sitting in Guantanamo. Or about what happens to dissidents in Communist China or North Korea. Or the lese majeste laws in Thailand, which can get you upto 15 years’ imprisonment for insulting the royal family.

The world certainly has a lot of failed states for Prof. Patnaik and you to worry about!


`We would like to register our astonishment how an idiot like that ever became a professor’
(from Harry Potter 3).