Home / Editorial / JNU events signal culture of authoritarian menace

JNU events signal culture of authoritarian menace

NEW DELHI: Eminent professors from prestigious universities, including Noam Chomsky and others have written condemning the arrest of Jawaharlal Nehru University student leader Kanhaiya Kumar, and expressing solidarity with the students and faculty protesting the government action on campus. The signatories also condemn “the culture of authoritarian menace that the present government in India has generated”.

JNU students demanding the release of union president Kanhaiya Kumar in New Delhi.

Here’s their statement and the list of signatories:

We have learnt of the shameful act of the Indian government which, invoking sedition laws formulated by India’s colonial rulers, ordered the police to enter the Jawaharlal Nehru University campus and unlawfully arrest a student leader, Mr. Kanhaiya Kumar, on charges of inciting violence – without any proof whatever of such wrongdoing on his part.

From the reports of a large number of witnesses and the most highly respected journalists in the country, these are the known facts that no impartial observer denies: In a student meeting, acting well within the rights he possesses by the law of the land, Mr. Kumar spoke critically of the BJP government’s policies. On the previous day, at some other event, which he had no part in organising and at which he did not speak, a handful of other students, not even identifiable as students of the university, were shouting slogans about the rights of Kashmiris to independence from Indian military oppression over the last many decades. Mr. Kumar, whose speech (widely available on a video) cannot in any way be connected with the slogans uttered on the previous day, was nonetheless arrested for ‘anti-national’ behaviour and for violating the sedition laws against the incitement to violence. Since there is no evidence to establish these charges, we can only conclude that this arrest is further evidence of the present government’s deeply authoritarian nature, intolerant of any dissent, setting aside India’s longstanding commitment to toleration and plurality of opinion, replicating the dark times of an oppressive colonial period and briefly of the Emergency in the mid-1970s.

These actions of the police have brought great dishonour to the government; and the failure of the Vice-Chancellor to speak out against these actions and moreover to allow the suspension of seven other students on charges that have not been established by a fair and transparent inquiry, will bring great dishonour to the most prominent university in the country in the eyes of the academy all over the world.

We, the undersigned, take a stand of heartfelt solidarity with the students and faculty of Jawaharlal Nehru University in their efforts to resist these developments on its campus and, in the name of the liberties that India and Indian universities until recently could take for granted, we not only condemn the culture of authoritarian menace that the present government in India has generated, but urge all those genuinely concerned about the future of India and Indian universities to protest in wide mobilisation against it.

Signed by:

  1. Noam Chomsky, Emeritus Professor of Linguistics and Philosophy, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, USA

  2. Orhan Pamuk, Nobel Laureate, Turkey

  3. Jonathan Cole, Former Provost of Columbia University, USA

  4. Judith Butler, Professor of Linguistics, University of California, Berkeley

  5. Richard N. Zare, Professor of Chemistry, Stanford University, USA

  6. Robert Wade, Professor of International Development, London School of Economics, UK

  7. Akeel Bilgrami, Professor of Philosophy, Columbia University, USA

  8. Dimitri Papadimitriou, Director, Levy Institute, Bard College, USA

  9. Mriganka Sur, Professor of Neuroscience, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, USA

  10. Jan Breman, Emeritus Professor of Sociology, Amsterdam University, The Netherlands,

  11. Sanat Kumar, Professor of Chemical Engineering, Columbia University, USA

  12. Sheldon Pollock, Professor of Sanskrit, Columbia University, USA

  13. Barbara Harriss-White, Emerita Professor of Development Studies, Oxford University, UK

  14. Partha Chatterjee, Professor of Anthropology, Columbia University, USA.

  15. N. V. Ramana, Professor of Physics, Princeton University, USA

  16. James Galbraith, Professor of Economics, University of Texas at Austin, USA

  17. Charles Taylor, Emeritus Professor of Philosophy, McGill University, Canada

  18. Servaas Storm, Professor of Economics, Delft University of Technology, The Netherlands

  19. Arjun Appadurai, Professor of Media, Culture and Communication, New York University, USA.

  20. Alicia Puyana Mutis, Professor of Economics, Flacso, Mexico.

  21. Robert Pollin, Professor of Economics, University of Amherst at Massachusetts, USA

  22. Juan Carlos Moreno Brid, Professor of Economics, Universidad National de Mexico, USA

  23. Gerald Epstein, Professor of Economics, University of Amherst at Massachusetts, USA

  24. Pasuk Phongpaichit, Emerita Professor, Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok Thailand.

  25. Kanti Rai, leading leukemia specialist, USA

  26. Gauri Vishwanathan, Professor of English, Columbia University, USA

  27. Ha-Joon Chang, University of Cambridge, UK

  28. Jennie Traschen, Professor of Physics, University of Massachusetts at Amherst, USA

  29. David Kastor, Associate Head of Department of Physics, University of Massachusetts at Amherst, USA

  30. Ugo Pagano, Professor of Economics, Università degli Studi di Siena, Italy

  31. Mira Nair, Film Director

  32. Ozlem Onaran, Professor of Economics, University of Greenwich, UK

  33. Engelbert Stockhammer, Professor of Economics, University of Bristol, UK

  34. Gary Dymski, Professor of Applied Economics, University of Leeds, UK

  35. Arjun Jayadev, University of Massachusetts, Boston, USA.

  36. Elissa Braunstein, Colorado State University, USA

  37. Alicia Giron, Universidad National de Mexico, USA

  38. Daniele Tori, University of Greenwich, UK

  39. Pablo Bortz, Universirty of San Martin, Beunos Aires, Argentina

  40. Daniela Gabor, UWE Bristol, UK

  41. Annina Kaltenbrunner, University of Leeds, UK

  42. J.George Waardenburg, Emeritus professor in development economics at Erasmus University Rotterdam, The Netherlands.

  43. Fernando J. Cardim de Carvalho, Emeritus Professor, Federal University of Rio de Janeiro

  44. Mario Tonveronachi, Università degli Studi di Siena, Italy

  45. Jan Kregel, Director of Research, Levy Institute, Bard College, USA

  46. Thomas Ferguson, University of Massachusetts, Boston, USA

  47. Malcolm Sawyer, Emeritus Professor of Economics, University of Leeds, UK

  48. Thea Harvey-Barratt, Levy Institute, Bard College, USA

  49. Amrita Chhachhi, International Institute of Social Studies, The Hague Netherlands

  50. Noemi Levy, Universidad National de Mexico, USA

  51. Ilhan Dogus, University of Hamburg, Germany

  52. Edward Fullbrook, Executive Director, World Economics Association

  53. Brendan Burchell, University of Cambridge, UK

  54. Vamsi Vakulabharanam, Professor of Economics, University of Amherst at Massachusetts, USA

  55. Sripad Motiram, University of Massachusetts at Bosto, USA

  56. Stefano Zambelli, Universita di Trento, Italy

  57. Andrew B. Tylecote, Emeritus Professor, University of Sheffield, UK

  58. Jing Cai, University of Aberdeen, Scotland

  59. Julian Wells, Kingston University, UK

  60. Mehmet Kerem Coban, Lee Kuan Yew Institute of Public Policy, National University of Singapore

  61. Andres Lazzarini, University of San Martin, Argentina

  62. Radha Upadhyaya, University of Nairobi, Kenya

  63. Riccardo Bellofiors, Universita di Bergamo, Italy

  64. Carolina Alves, University of London

  65. Pritam Singh, Oxford Brookes University, UK

  66. Stephanie Seguino, University of Vermont, USA

  67. Nicolas Pons-Vignon, EHSS, Paris

  68. Sergio Cesarotto, Universita di Siena, Italy

  69. Tomas Rotta, University of Greenwich, UK

  70. Robin Blackburn, Cullman Fellow, New York Public Library

  71. David Freedberg, Director, Warburg Institute, University of London

  72. Mario Seccareccia, University of Ottowa, Canada

  73. Jens Lerche, University of London, UK

  74. Kevin Gallagher, Boston University, USA

  75. Maria Cristina Marcuzzo, Università di Roma “La Sapienza”, Italy

  76. Pascal Petit, University of Sorbonne, Paris France

  77. Deepankar Basu, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, USA.

  78. María Cecilia Ainciburu, Università degli Studi di Siena, Italy

  79. Eugenia Correa, Universidad Nacional de Mexico, Mexico City

  80. Wendy Olsen, Professor of Socio-Economics, University of Manchester, UK

  81. Radhika Balakrishnan, Rutgers University, USA

  82. Eduardo Strachman, Sao Paulo State University, Brazil

  83. Wesley Colin Marshall, Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana, Iztapalapa, Mexico

  84. Trevor Evans, Berlin School of Economics and Law, Germany

  85. Terrence McDonough, National University of Ireland, Galway

  86. Rod O’Donnell, University of Sydney, Australia

  87. David Bromwich, Sterling Professor of English, Yale University

  88. Geoffrey C Harcourt, Emeritus Professor, University of Sydney, Australia