No country for radicals; A freedom of contrasts, writes Raveena Tandon Thadani

Throughout school, most kids, at least I was one of them, were waiting to get out and get into a college; in a hurry to grow up, so as to speak. We all dreamed of college as a place of freedom – from uniforms (argh! those boring greys) and from studies and discipline. Picnics and romances and first crushes – college was that faraway dream of partying all day at socials in the ’80s – college parties!
I still remember standing in the admission line, stars in my eyes, looking forward to the promise adventure that college life held. I started working with Prahlad Kakar’s advertisement company as an intern. I wanted to get into production and direction almost immediately. I used to attend college early in the mornings and head out by afternoon to PK’s office. But college was fun and full of laughter. Most of the time, we would all be bust with some fest or intercollegiate competitions – be it fashion shows, drama or dance. Our cultural programmes would actually be what they’re supposed to be – focused on art, literature and dance.
So, it came as a shock for me – the revelation that cultural programmes can also be highly motivated political programmes where violence against a country can be propagated under the name of culture. All of last week, the nation was stunned by the visuals and video recordings that came out of Jawaharlal Nehru University. Student politics has taken on a vicious form.
I live in front of Rizvi College and Springfield High School – and every morning I wake up to the strains of the national anthem being proudly sung by the kids of the school. The sound reverberates through the neighbourhood. As I step out early morning to get into my car to drop my kids to school, few of the cheeky older ones yell out from the college canteen windows and wave out to say hi and I wave back most of the times.
God forbid, I’m a bad mood or if one them tries to be too cheeky, I actually threaten to go up there and pull their ears, and they all run away giggling…. These are the kind of innocent fun moments that sharaarati college brought. Valentine’s Day and Rose Days were something we girls looked forward to. The maximum roses one got that day would get you crowned the Rose Queen.
Rizvi College goes through this whole week of festivals – with music, singing and talent contests – loud music and cheering goes on till time permits at night. I do enjoy it, it reminds me of my college days. Often, I do hear Tip Tip Barsa Paani or Kisi Disco Mein Jaayein being played and I imagine the young talent dancing away and I do get tempted to walk across and join them on stage and shake a leg. Wonder what their reaction would be. But the most favourite song I hear being played often is AR Rahman’s version of Vande Mataram (Maa Tujhe Salaam). The whole audience sings along and I’m proud.
I have attended blood donation drives in this college and campaigns to encourage voting and I see the good work these student associations are doing and am proud of those students and I bless them in my heart for the good work they do for the community. I believe my country is in good hands. This is what colleges and universities should be. And then, when I read about the goings-on at JNU and some other colleges, it saddens me to see that those kids who grew up in this country, singing the national anthem every morning in their schools and later on, in their colleges, want to blow apart their own motherland! They might have differences with the ruling governments and have the right and freedom to do so. But what cruel circumstances must be that robbed these youth of the innocent pleasures of life to turn them into hardened radicals ready to associate with radicalized elements who want to see this country destroyed?
You might have grievances against the governments, but how can you demand for the break-up and destruction of the very country you were born in? The explanation given by the intellectual liberals is that the students did not do any sloganeering .. But then the important question is how did they allow their names or support on a pamphlet  describing and event that was celebrating a terrorist or encouraging terrorist activities.. Wasn’t that leading to trouble ? The problem that this has arisen is from the spread of social media.. All along JNU has been known to indulge in anti national activities but behind closed doors .. The killing of 63 CRPF men in a Naxalite ambush was also celebrated by some of these “students” and congratulated by another leftist liberal Arundhati Roy… Isn’t the hate for for your country going a bit too far when you  rejoice the  death people who are sacrificing their lives to keep you secure..Colleges are supposed to be centers of learning, temples temples of education (and not radicalization). Today, it’s fashionable to disrespect the flag or refuse to stand for those 52 seconds for the national anthem and some intellectual defenders actually encourage this. While soldiers are dying trying to save the very honour of this flag. They bear the torturous cold and treacherous enemy bullets, ready to give up their lives so that nobody breaches the security and sovereignty of this nation. If it wasn’t for the extreme nationalism and crazy junoon, would these brave Jawans face death with a smile on their faces? And what do we do ? Practice our right of freedom of speech and threaten to blow up our country into tukde from within our campuses which our founding fathers probably laid the first stones thinking they were laying the path of greatness for the future generations?
These so-called revolutionary students are now absconding like cowards. Forget facing a bullet on the front lines, it is fashionable to say that one is an anti-national and refuse to stand up for the national anthem as it is now considered to be ‘fake nationalism’. I have actually heard some prominent liberal news channel anchors actually comment that standing up for the national anthem is actually like asking me for a certificate of patriotism. Seriously? What happened to basic respect and manners.
We normally stand up and greet an elder if they walk into the room, so why not? One can argue it’s okay, they know we respect them and that one doesn’t have to show it or produce a certificate to show respect by standing up when my mother enters a room or to offer her a chair, she knows.
The revolution for Indian Independence began with the Rebellion of 1857 because Mangal Pandey refused to bite into a bullet that was allegedly smeared with beef and pork fat. Today, he would have been scorned and ridiculed. The poor chap would’ve been accused of fake patriotism and extreme nationalism the spreading hate in the name of religious sentiments …Umar Khalid , Lenin Kumar , Kanhaiya , and some others might have not actually done the sloganeering. Their event was hijacked, but I didn’t see them denying that on any news channel- I fact I saw Lenin Kumar trying to defend the sloganeering while Umar Khalid sat grinning throughout a whole TV debate- and now his family and some supporters of his playing the Muslim victim card- err… Kanhaiya is not Muslim and neither the others who are booked. They do have the right of freedom of speech, but in today’s dangerous world where country’s are at war within and getting bombed out of the map by crazy fanatical terrorists and there is a refugee crisis in half the world, where threats like ”Bharat ke tukde tikde honge” cannot be taken lightly which in other parts of the world is almost happening literally, cannot actually let these words come true one day, can’t let the seeds of ”Har ghar mein Afzal actually bear fruit. The common man is  angry and distressed with hearing this kind of sloganeering coming from campuses.
To conclude this, I wish some of the political parties show sensibilities and restrain their party workers as some members of the ruling party trying to take out morchas and break barricades to be let into the universities is adding to the chaos. Now some members of the ruling party are making their presence felt at the AMU University to check on what the students are eating???? Haven’t they other better things to do?? Like run  the administration or the running the office for what they were elected to do for a change??
The news channels have gone into overdrive with hyperbole and conspiracy theories. Prominent/ eminent people on social media/twitter doing away with any basic courtesies just lashing out and insulting each other. What the heck? Get civilized people, calm down sit back analyze and let the law take its course, until some other drama unfolds…..
Peace out.
– Raveena Tandon Thadani

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