Ms. Smriti Irani, No Flag Can Hide Bigotry!

Nupur Jain

An alumna of JNU, Nupur is currently writing a graphic novel on Bombay cinema utilising the iconic image of Amitabh Bachchan as metaphor.

The HRD Ministry has passed a unanimous decision along with Vice chancellors of Central Universites to hoist our national flag on a 207 feet pole at all Central Universities in India.

After the resistance met at campuses at FTII, HCU and JNU for the present government’s actions in varying incidents, the timing of the decision being made leads to an inference, and questions.

The timing clearly signals that the Ministry perceives somehow a lack of feelings for the country amongst those who dwell on campuses across central universities in India. Where did this perception come from? From the incident at JNU where a meeting was held questioning Afzal Guru’s hanging for the parliament attack in 2001? But JNU already has a national flag in the centre of the university flying in dignity and freedom at its administration block. The presence of the national flag can be perceived in the daily routine of the University as students walk down to classes from their hostels. That its presence did not stop from such a meeting being organised highlights the redundancy of the arguments made against such meetings, and against the redundancy of the idea that questioning anything and everything in the state of India that affect the student as much as it affects every other person of India amounts to lack of feeling for the country. On the contrary, that such a meeting is held and that the students are aware and curious about what is happening in the country points to the fact that they feel strongly and are passionate about being citizens of the country and are active in voicing their opinions on the proceedings of the state, or for that matter, the problems that exist in India. And that JNU is a university where people are aware and active in trying to resolve issues in the country is made clear by the professional choices students of JNU make in their lives. Politicians, academicians, activists, writers, bureaucrats, police personnel, army men and women, artists and a lot more come from this university.

That the HRD Ministry did not know that JNU has Indias symbol of freedom on campus already can be forgiven. But what is astounding is that it perceives that those on such a campus lack pride and passion for their country. As an alumna of JNU, I can say with certainty that we are even more conscious of the fact that the personal is political, and that every action we do defines both the nation and the country as a whole in India. And we fight for the idea of India inshrined in the constitution knowing and practising this in our everyday lives.

Tricolor in the JNU students' protest in Delhi. Courtesy: Indian Express
Tricolor in the JNU students’ massive protest in Delhi this week. Courtesy: Indian Express

Also, while condemning wholeheartedly slogans if made for Indias destruction, i would like to raise other questions. Is it not a person with national pride who asks and works towards the freedom from poverty and the freedom from caste oppression? Why was a man who asked for such freedoms arrested on charges of sedition? Why was Kanhaiya, a man who was not making such slogans, pin pointed as the centre of these slogans? Why was a campus made distraught by sending in police before even examining the entire proceedings of the meeting held on 9th February, 2016? Why was the media painting the ENTIRE UNIVERSITY as some haven for anti-national activities, when we already had enough proof that the people who belong to JNU saw the national flag flying high everyday in their daily routine and carried it in their hearts with fervour and wisdom?

One last question. Now that you, the HRD Ministry, know we have india’s national flag in the campus, would you replace it with your 207 feet flag? Or would you just put another national flag in the campus? Can I ask you, what will be the point of either actions?





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