If you are a parent with young children and are reading posts from educated Indians on JNU hostel violence, in all likelihood, you may be getting at least one bout a day similar to Kiran Amir Khan and wondering if India is safe for your kids. So, I am tempted to try and peak to see if I can see a revolution around the corner, ignited from the Azadi chants of JNU scholars.
If I look into the history of revolutions, I must admit that they are normal and keep happening, so they can’t be ruled out completely, but when I look closely at all of them, there are one universal theme.
Every revolution demands blood and suffering, so it needs humans who can offer both at the altar of the cause, and this is where the problem starts.
In every society, the first to feel the brunt of the “oppression” of the state are those living at the top of the pyramid, as they are the “haves” and hence, unlike the “have-nots”, they quickly sense even the minutest of the loss and hence foresee the need to bring about a change well before the masses.
If we look around the world, at every moment in history, we can always find some elites feeling oppressed and thus wanting a revolution, but thanks to one beautiful systemic provision, we don’t have revolutions every day.
The reason why revolutions are rare is that they need blood and suffering that elites aren’t keen to offer, so every revolution needs masses to rise.
A revolution is chemical reaction that has to be driven by the masses with elites acting as catalyst, so to push the masses towards the revolution, the elites have to go to and engage with masses, connect with the ground realities and then only juggernaut of masses can be convinced to move.
If we return to modern India and the agitating students in JNU and other elite academies, we have something really interesting to observe.
It is clear that these are elites feeling loss of something that they want to restore in the name of Azadi, and hence I would just look at it as a normal phenomenon that keeps playing out across humanity all the time, but if I extrapolate the current situation to see if there is a revolution at the end of the rainbow as they hope, I see a problem.
Not just JNU, but most Indian academies appear to be designed to fail to serve the purpose of bringing revolution, and the simple evidence of it is available in the hostels of JNU.
If we walk into university hostels like JNU across India, we see them occupied by a unique set of people who are hanging on to academics for one simple reason. They don’t want to leave the comfortable cocoon that Indian academies designed like silos offer. They spend years doing M.Phil, PhD and more, not to push the envelope of knowledge, but because they don’t want to face the real world outside the tall walls of the academy.
As these people grow accustomed to be snug as a bug in the rug in places like JNU, they start building narratives that justify their escapism from reality to claim that they have an exalted raison d’être like Azadi or Save the Planet or whatever is the flavour of the age and soon fall in the love of their own story and want everyone to believe it.
As academies breed them by numbers, they soon convert their self-constructed illusion into a delusion by finding people suffering from the same malaise, and what we get is what they think is a seed of a much-needed revolution.
While I do admit that, it is possible for such a seed to start a revolution, but in Indian academies, it hits a very practical road-block.
If our JNU elites want the revolution to graduate to reach the next level, they need masses to join, and most unfortunately for them, these masses in India reside in the place many of these students do come from but are now uprooted by the systemic design of Indian academies.
Indian academies located in cities, their extremely lenient hostel policies, the cheap tea and food at the canteens where one can meet other escapists to discuss how one will change the world without moving a muscle ensure that the students coming there don’t and can’t go back to their roots.
So, by their very design, Indian academies have thrown a spanner in the traditional revolution mechanism as they not only make it very difficult for those living inside academic cocoons to relate with the real India, its masses and their problems; but they also render these budding revolutionaries incapable of going to masses and connect with them.
Net result is, the only place these revolutionaries can go to is other academies or social media, where they find others of the same mould and find traction that strengthen their delusion of a revolution around the corner.
But, if you are not a budding revolutionary and a worried parent fearing a revolution, I would want you realise that, at this point, Indian “revolution” has reached the above cite stage that I would not consider worth fearing; but I would surely keep an eye on this.
The day to get worried is when these agitators move out of the hostels, stop marching with candles and return home to do real work on the problems of the masses and connect with people of the nation to make them move.
But, as long as they feel that talking to the tea-boy in JNU canteen is giving them insight into the mood of the masses and social media likes and shares represent that the nation with them, we have little to fear.
Viva la revolución!
Only action that you may consider taking at this stage is buying shares of a publication house selling poems of Faiz. For the revolution, we may need to wait till internet to collapse for couple of decades!
DISCLAIMER : Views expressed above are the author’s own.