Buzzing Blogosphere: Kanhaiya Kumar And The Hype Of Nationalist Idea

‘Kanhaiya Kumar’ is the buzzword of the season. If you’re in any way connected to the outside word, there is no way you haven’t heard the name of the student who put JNU on the map. He spent two weeks in jail on charges of sedition, after which he was released on bail on 3rd March. His arrest attracted nationwide protests from students and professionals, who cheered his hour long speech and chants of ‘Azaadi’. There are also people who think he doesn’t deserve the adulation and title of ‘Next Big Politician’ that have been bestowed on him. Let’s see what the Indian blogosphere is saying about Kanhaiya Kumar‘s release and the subsequent events. 

kanhaiya kumar release

Sedition is quite a grey area as ‘anti-national activities’ have no proper definition. Most people are of the opinion that the Indian judiciary is pretty slow when it comes to clearing pending cases, but this case was handled pretty quickly, raising questions on the priority assigned to cases. Indira Jaising on their blog where she shares some serious issues with India’s Judges.

“The time has come for us to remind ourselves what nationalism is, and what constitutes ‘anti-national’ activity. Surely, as judges, you all know that there is no such offence as an ‘anti-national’ act in any of the statute books in India.

No doubt our forces protect our borders, but think, why do we face external aggression on our borders in the first place? Why have we not succeeded after 68 years of independence in making peace with our neighbours who, until 1947, were part of one nation? A generation of us are still around, including myself, who belong to the other side of the border, and all that we want is peace and nothing but peace. What have you done to guarantee us this peace?”

Indian society and political hierarchy is highly influenced by both the ‘left’ and ‘right’ ideologies and perspectives. This has created a divide among people based on which side they identify with. Drishtikone blog compares the past and the present of leftist ideas.

“Several European academics and scholars came together to write a collection of articles on the deeds of Communism.  It was called “The Black Book of Communism: Crimes, Terror, Repression”.  It documents in detail a history of crimes by Communist regimes the world over that resulted in multitudes of deaths and hunger.  The book details out the genocides, extrajudicial executions, deportations, and artificial famines that were perpetrated by the Communist regimes in the world.”

Kanhaiya’s case is not a one off incident, as such demonstrations gave taken place on campuses earlier too. Subhas Chandra Pattanayak ponders on the timeline of events and what they mean in the scheme of things for Kanhaiya and the others involved. 

“The people of that State have been given the environment to assume that they belong to a different nationality. Fellows that have governed India ever since independence have helped them with separate identity in India’s constitution and Laws to suit their claim. Consequently Afzal Gurus or Maqbool Bhatts are being generated. This has been injuring India non-stop and the situation has gone so sore that the country had to suffer the ignominy of witnessing “fascist forces” displaying their photos on their chests and raising slogans in their favor in India’s epitome of academic pride: the JNU.”

Political issues get blown out of proportion for various reasons. Vinod Narayan makes an effort to keep perspectives realistic.

“Well I still do not know if Lenin really said so. But Personally I am of the opinion that Lenin is not the right person to be quoted for upholding democracy. The problem in Lenin’s way of thinking like many others (now and before) in that line of thinking was that they look at Democracy in itself divided into two; I will call one ‘bourgeois democracy’ which they say should be fought and then a ‘Proletariat Democracy’  which one should defend even with violence and curtailing freedom. The individual and his freedom of speech or expression does not figure anywhere. That by itself is not a sustainable model of democracy because it is built on differentiation and not assimilation. And so I beg to defer here with those who cheer Kanhaiya.”

Kanhaiya’s speech may have resonated with many people, but there are quite a few who see him as a criminal and not a hero. Krishna Anand tells us why as he writes for MyVoice.

“Kanhaiya made some seriously loved political statements in that speech. Wasn’t he told by the High court to refrain from doing exactly that? How did he know who said what in Parliament & Twitter when he was locked up?

This isn’t as straight as it seems, this man has the backing and funding of politicians, media and all those who see him as a means to get back on Modi. To bring him down. They will do all it takes, back anybody needed to Achieve that goal. There is some serious thinking our media need to do. You cannot be on the constant look out for characters who are insulting Modi, and you must realize what your duties towards this country are.”

Kanhaiya has not just opened up the debate about politics and development in India, but also inspired others to take an interest in what’s happening in the country. Reema Moudgil thinks that this incident has opened up the forum for many such diverse voices to be heard in the country.

“And if we thought that the sight of goons boasting on camera just how they had beaten Kanhaiya Kumar till he wet his pants, was what defined nationalism in this country, we were wrong. It was the genuine mirth on scores of young faces as Kanhaiya spoke about his jail experiences and articulated his take on the politics of arm-twisting, that brought home to us this electrifying realisation. That bubbles, no matter how big they get, do burst. Lies are caught. And a hollow political idea must acknowledge at some point that its time will never come. And that the light of clear and present truth will show us ultimately how empty catchphrases really are.”

The speech made by Kanhaiya Kumar is today looked up to by many young people. It speaks of challenges, hope, fight for rights and most importantly, making India reach the full potential possible. Ipsita Chakravarty tracks the events.

The challenge

Through his speech on Thursday night, Kumar articulated the components of this azadi. He spoke, once again, of his faith in the Constitution. The #StandWithJNU movement, he said, believed in the principles it enshrined: socialism, secularism, equality.

They were demanding azadi in India and not from India, Kumar said. “Is it wrong to ask for freedom from the problems that the country faces?” he demanded. Azadi meant freedom from “jaativad (casteism)” and “Manuvad (the doctrine of Manu)”. It meant freedom for a coalition of the oppressed ‒ Dalits, women, farmers and minorities. It also seemed to mean freedom from the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh and the “programme set by Nagpur”, where the Hindutva organisation has its headquarters.”

Students debating in national issues in University Campus is not a new thing. It did happen in 60’s and 70’s as well. They why so much hype by the media now? Kalpana Sharma, author-journalist-writer talks about how the changes are more than what meets the eye.  

“Since the arrest of Kanhaiya Kumar on February 12 on charges of sedition and the subsequent arrest of two other JNU students, Umar Khalid and Anirban Bhattacharya, students from many more universities across India have come out in their support. This kind of solidarity among students across universities has not been seen in recent times.

These protests could, of course, subside. The majority of students might decide to get back to classes, and to worrying about their careers. But the chances that this “infection” will spread are greater because the JNU students and the Dalit students from Hyderabad Central University have widened the ambit of their protests. It is not just freedom of expression that they are demanding; they are equally passionate about freedom from caste. It is this combination that must worry the current dispensation at the Centre, or at least should worry them.”

It is a good sign that people across age groups and all walks of life are willing to express their national opinions. May be this is how leaders are born. Unless we live the pain, we probably cannot fight for it. D P Satish writes on IBNLive comparing Kanhaiya Kumar and Arvind Kejriwal.

“Instead of keeping quiet, Kanhaiya is also talking too much. He must realise that the law of diminishing utility equally applies to him. The same media which has created Kanhaiya the “crusader” can finish him off overnight.

Kejriwal had the backing of both educated middle class and the lower class. Comrade Kanhaiya will not get the backing of educated middle class, if he keeps talking about “Revolution” etc. Even the lower class has no stomach for another “Revolution”. They are also tired of these big big words.

In an aspirational society, if Kanhaiya wants to be a real leader, he has to be pragmatic. His so-called Communist idea has few takers in India. Kanhaiya and his fellow comrades must realise that the country has moved ahead and only these people are still there. The net result is the fast declining Communist parties might find a powerful public speaker in Kanhaiya. That’s it.”

Media coverage is essential for politicians. It is highly complex with people who are a mix of defined and non defined goals in the space. The whole issue has made Kanhaiya won but Prabhat Sharma tells us how the government is a bigger winner.

“Probably for the first time- a student rally at JNU after Kanhaiya’s release actually  displayed the national flag. In his address, Kanhaiya took all pain to reiterate that he is not seeking ‘azaadi’ from India but within India and from all those ills that most politicians routinely mouth- caste discrimination, poverty, corruption and so on. It takes no brains to say that – the space of anti- India elements in JNU has now shrunk to nothing with Kanhaiya’s assertion. This is exactly what government wanted and got it now within a month.”

These were the bloggers who shed some light on the #KanhaiyaKumar issue with their distinct perspectives. If you wish to share your opinions with us, write to us in the comments below.

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