Millions of Indians still rue the destruction of the ancient Buddhist university of Nalanda a thousand years ago, and yet we stand by and witness the destruction of the Nalanda of our times.
Dr. Abdul Kalam is known to have remarked “What the students of JNU think today, India will think tomorrow. I wish India should replicate such culture and university at other places too”.
Often referred to as the Oxford of India, Jawaharlal Nehru University has been one of India’s most prestigious universities, respected globally for its high quality research and scholarship. It has given India eminent economists, noble laureates, scientists, social workers, academics, and at present two of the most prominent cabinet ministers - India’s Finance Minister and External Affairs Minister.
Yet in recent years it has been frequently in the news, not for academic reasons, but for political ones. People who have little to no insight into what really goes on inside JNU, have come to associate it with aggressive politics, loud protests, and occasional violence. People with more extreme views have gone to the extent of branding it as “anti-national” and even called for government takeover. Unsurprisingly those who respect and admire this institution worry about its future and of the culture that had until now made it outstanding among the hundreds of Indian universities.
One such insider of JNU is Dr Makarand Paranjape. He has recently authored a book on JNU - Nationalism and the Uncivil War, in which he shares his view on what ails JNU and how it can be saved.