Romila Thapar: “The protests by JNU students and teachers have been remarkable ..”


Indian Writers Forum, February 15, 2016

Eminent historian Romila Thapar has been associated with JNU since its early years. She talks to writer Githa Hariharan about JNU’s vision for educating the young to be questioning citizens. She also traces the pattern of recent attacks against voices of dissent on Indian campuses.
Romila Thapar:

  • The Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) has always had the unique characteristic of encouraging the historical method(s) of questioning existing knowledge. So you could be a philosophical Marxist without being associated with the Communist Party at all. 
  • JNU has especially nurtured, among the young, a sense of what it is, to have and nurture a democratic society. At JNU the participation of students, academia and the administration can be seen at all levels, in all bodies of the University. This is exceptional. 
  • I recall when I was there, when professor Bipan Chandra was there, we would be gheraoed by students constantly. As would the Vice Chancellor. But all the issues that came to us were sorted out in the University; not through the police! 
  • The recent attack by the government using the police strikes at the very heart of an Institution and strikes at what institutions must be in any democratic society. 
  • That is why I find the protests of the students, the teachers and all others, simply remarkable. They are, as we are all standing up in defence of all persons who have been arrested which is, in actuality, a defence of the Institution.




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