Academics must stay as academics

Deliberately maligning one community is unacceptable. An institution like Jawahar Lal Nehru University must rise above prejudice and hatred against a particular faith. After all this university has a history of intellectual excellence, not just in India, but the world-over

Bilal Kaloo
Srinagar, Publish Date: May 23 2018 11:20PM | Updated Date: May 23 2018 11:20PM
Academics must stay as academicsFile Photo

According to the recent news update in media wherein Jawahar Lal University (JNU) has passed a proposal to set up a Centre for National Security Studies under which there would be a course on "Islamic Terrorism" is a matter of grave concern.

Such open and blunt endorsement that propagandizes terrorism as rooted in the religion of Islam is a shocker and is totally unacceptable. A nation that cannot deny and downplay the contributions and sacrifices made by Muslims in her freedom struggle can never be so ungrateful and callous to reveal intimidating indifference in maligning their community by allowing academic institutions to trigger communal discord. These parochial trends are explicitly provocative and highly condemnable and these ill-conceived initiatives with vested interests must be immediately opposed to ensure cordial and conducive social space for all the religions to coexist peacefully.

‘A university stands for humanism, for tolerance, for reason, for the adventure of its ideas and for the search of truth. It stands for the onward march of human race towards even higher objectives. If the universities discharge their duties adequately, then it is well with the nation and with the people. But if the temple of learning itself becomes a home of narrow bigotry and petty objectives, how then will the nation prosper or a people grow in stature?’

Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru (Convocation Address –University of Allahbad 1947)

The proposed course on ‘Islamic Terrorism’ is a brazen contradiction of cherished universal values as envisioned by the first prime minster of India Jawahar Lal Nehru.

Academic institutions in their research canvass must evolve and expand their academic circumference to include and address emerging issues and challenges in the society. Under intellectual responsiveness, sensitivity and seriousness towards pressing issues in the society of grave concern need to be explored. Rigorous research with the intention to understand the nitty-gritties of the social issues is much needed to subsequently pave way for possible solutions.

Developing an objective and rational body of knowledge pertaining to issues like terrorism will bring a lot of clarity not only in understanding the nature of terrorism, but also its diverse ramifications and the underlying forces and factors that nourish its roots. But a preconceived assumption to associate terrorism with a particular religion has many repercussions to offer. 

Being an academic institution of national repute, Jawahar Lal Nehru University (JNU) has an acclaimed stature and standing within and outside the country. Making such a prestigious institute a laboratory to conduct such eccentric experiments and expeditions that are completely inconsiderate about social realities and social sensitivities will flare up further reprimand and resentment at a time when communal polarization is such a daunting challenge. 

The attempts to engineer the perceptions by derogating communities on religious affiliations are deplorable. Acknowledging and advocating institutionalization of terrorism with a particular religion will strengthen orthodox stereotypes that label all its followers with a pejorative tag. 

Categorizing specific and selective acts of violence with reference to a particular community as ‘terrorism’ and turning a blind eye to more gruesome and demeaning inhuman acts on part of other communities as fair is highly illusive and objectionable. Terrorism has no particular religion as acts of terror find involvement and patronage of wide range of individuals and groups that have different religious affiliations. It is thus totally unwise and illogical to unnecessarily target and tarnish the sanctity of one particular religion that can invoke further hate and hostility and alienate the community further. Academic institutions especially the universities are abodes of peace and harmony that groom and guide young generation towards excellence and their potential can better be channelized into productive and purposeful endeavors. Demeaning nomenclature of courses like ‘Islamic Terrorism’ reveals not only a diseased mindset but also dents the reputation of a prestigious academic institute that epitomizes universal doctrines of humanism, tolerance and peaceful coexistence.

 

(Bilal Kaloo is Assistant Professor Department of Education (South Campus) University of Kashmir)

 

 

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