Why I need to tell my family not to be scared of JNU

Anwesha Mukherjee

Anwesha MukherjeeI am a PhD(2nd year) student from SIS,JNU. A woman, student, wife and patriot.

I have moved out of the JNU campus after my marriage in 2014. In these two years, I have worked with a corporate setup, did part time job with a semi public institute, travelled bits of the world and also lived abroad for sometime. In this entire time, my only relation to the campus was my seldom visits to meet my guide for ongoing PhD supervision. So basically I saw myself involved in a whole lot of “other” activities which were only self indulging. JNU gradually took a backseat in my list of daily affairs.

So on the 10th of February, while scrolling through my Facebook news feed, I came across tons of posts and comments on the ruckus happening in JNU.  Sudden twitter trends on #shutdownJNU and anti national JNUiites sent a shiver down my spine. With each day, the anti-JNU slogans kept growing their voices and I saw myself restless through all this. Here, I had my family and non-JNU friends lambasting JNU like frenzy and my newsfeed had all my JNU friends supporting the glorious institution.

The memories of four years I had spend living on the campus as a masters and Mphil student in Tapti Hostel, came rushing back. There would be constant political debates and discussions going on everywhere on the campus. I am not talking about all the formal political student party debates and academic talks. I very fondly remember the late night discussions I would have with my friends over a cup of tea or the long walks on the ring road. I had no political party lineage. Probably, one of the most apolitical person on the campus. I knew several like me too. But I would enjoy various discussions as it primarily involved knowing the other. A different point of view, listening to it, giving it some space in my brain, contradicting the other’s opinion on particular topic and so on. I was learning a new way of looking at the world. Trying to accommodate the other in my own purview of thinking helped me grow as a person. I saw myself opening up to several viewpoints. Putting myself in another person’s shoe is a task most of us can never imagine. JNU taught me exactly that.

I am upper class Hindu Brahmin woman. Atleast that is what I have been made to believe since childhood. JNU made me question all of that. There was phase of existential crisis as well. I was intellectually more sound and open. Two years out of campus and I am back to square one. I think of just myself- my family, my desires, my wealth, my makeup, my food, my fashion, my cleanliness, my travels, my fun and so on. My thinking now primarily involves how I can make more money for a comfortable living in this country. Not to mention, I do think of settling abroad as well.

The space of the other has diminished completely. Self is primary. I feel this is the case of most of us outside the campus, specially people who have no clue about what goes on in the campus. The idea of thinking about the nation, questioning my own identity started from JNU. Initially I had full plans of getting a PhD degree abroad but JNU had taught me why India is equally good to excel academically. JNU had taught me why questioning certain deeds of the government is necessary. JNU had taught me which deeds of government is praiseworthy. JNU taught me to think beyond myself, think of other people, think of community, think of nation, think of India.

There were so many diverse views and opinions on any particular matter, be it why Israel attacked Gaza Strip or whether cats should be allowed in the hostel. Everyone had an opinion.Eveyone had a voice.That was the beauty inherent to JNU. People did not think about themselves when voicing an opinion. I thought about other. Governments change but people in JNU raise voices. They do it peacefully. They don’t throttle you for your opinion.Infact,they teach you to have an opinion.

My family and non-JNUiite friends are frantically opposing me to go to JNU as they have safety concerns. My mother who would otherwise, coax me to study for PhD, suddenly stops asking anything regarding JNU. My parents-in-law are very scared for me. My husband is scared too. But it is very essential for me to support JNU. If I wont raise my voice for it,then how will I expect you to understand?I don’t debate vehemently. I don’t argue. I put forth my view points. As a social science student, it is my duty to be the voice of my institution for so many of you who don’t know JNU and don’t think even once before terming us anti-nationals. I am not anti-national. Maybe your perception of nationalism is skewed. I feel proud that in my mind I am not leading a life within four walls. My mind has travelled far beyond. So, I want to tell you my dear that JNU is a big part of my existence and me as a person. This commotion sparked the old free thinker in me which had been submerged somewhere within the boundaries of commodity fetishism. Dont teach me about my nation and nationalism because I am too blunt to admit that what kind of self nationalism we perform outside JNU on our day to day lives. I can never thank JNU, enough for that.




  1. Thank you, Anwesha! You penned down beautifully what many of us non-partisan, issue based JNU’ites are thinking. JNU has taught both of us to think beyond our ‘upper class Hindu Brahmin woman’ mentality, as you put it. JNU has taught me to have an educated opinion in a campus which is meant for debate and discussion (not forceful arbitration). To see people labelling the campus without any substance is alarming and equally distressing.

  2. Thank you, Anwesha! You penned down beautifully what many of us non-partisan, issue based JNU’ites are thinking. JNU has taught both of us to think beyond our caste or class mentality. JNU has taught me to have an educated opinion in a vibrant campus which stands for debate and discussion (not forceful arbitration). To see people labelling the campus without any substance is alarming and equally distressing.

  3. Your words gives some comfort that there are Humans as well in JNU!! With the hype that was given to some people shouting slogans, it seemed as if JNU is a campus full of retards. Dissent is ok but dissent can be from Govt. from authority, from one sect, but, I think the leaders of the event went too far by calling for Hindustan’s Barbaadi!! What will you do if someone in one of your debates calls for the destruction of the only country which has given you everything. After all, JNUits are not the only one living in this country. Calling themselves intellectual and taking the position of opinion leaders of a better world, does not mean that they’d stoop so low as to cover their heads and only think in contravention. If this was done by some petty laborers it’d not have generated so much fuss about govt. action against them, would it? Wouldn’t that be crushing dissent? That’s where this debate is, it’s not about dissent anymore, dissent is not about destruction of the very country you live in, even in times of freedom struggle those elements were considered anti national.

    • This agitation has achieved only two objectives:
      – Lot of Publicity
      – Anarchy (Now people think intellectuals are usually foolish [not 100% of course])
      (Give us something constructive Dear Intellectuals of the Country)

      I don’t expect a change in anything due to this foolish sloganeering.

  4. No one says that the entire JNU is bad but there are some elements, much more than some other Univ. have who think on different lines. You know that it has a leftist orientation and you very well know that leftist take out the umbrella when there is rain in China or Russia. They have more loyalty to their Mao and Lenins than our heroes. And that element from Kashmir, needs no elaboration. I too have been to many countries besides all the states in our country, more where there was disturbance and dissent. I feel a student’s job is to study and make good use of the subsidy the JNUites receives and not indulge in activities which are meant for politicians.