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SHUBHDA CHAUDHARY | 16 MARCH, 2016

Stop the Aggressive Vilification Of Scholar Nivedita Menon


NEW DELHI: The recent target of burgeoning epileptic paroxysm of ABVP has been Jawaharlal Nehru University Professor Nivedita Menon who took a teach-in lecture titled ‘Nation, as a daily plebiscite’. Already defamed for fabricating video footages, the intellect-less hedonistic agenda of the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad has resurfaced again to defame the professor, branding her as ‘anti-national’ and starting a vitriolic and obnoxious social media troll against her ‘Right to Dissent’ and ‘Freedom of Speech and Expression’.

Menon, whose lecture in Hindi, explained how one nationality cannot curb the multiple national aspirations of the people is being attacked for her views on Kashmir, Manipur, Chhattisgarh and other sensitive political boundaries.

The malicious intent of victimizing Menon, one of the most prominent feminist scholars in India reveals the authoritarian and fascist underpinnings of the current charged political environment where ABVP, in its hurly-burly attitude is impatient to pluck out so-called ‘anti-nationals’.

It would perhaps not notice how Menon, who got innumerable offers to teach abroad, chose to teach in India, an academic and political scientist who questions the Indian political spectrum and inter-subjective understanding. Her reaching which in itself is a very ‘national’ activity is being ridiculed, odiously shadowing her personal integrity and resonance with thousands of students who have been able to sharpen their intellectual acumen under her guidance.

Menon’s identity is also being reduced to being a ‘woman feminist’ who ‘does not have the right to question’. In recent days, be it Rohith Vemula’s mother who was victimized to prove that her son was a Dalit or Richa Singh, the only female President of Allahabad’s University big chest, muscle flexing and violent crowd, each one of these women have been victimized.

No one is questioning the ‘enemy within’, which is the RSS under its disguise of demanding action against academicians, students or intellectuals to refrain from so-called ‘anti-national’ expression, to actually close down the primary channel of logical and reasoned opposition to the forced saffronisation of educational campuses.

Historian K. N. Pannikar has stated ‘India is going through a crisis that has never happened before. The independence that we won from the colonials after long years of struggle was based on the ideals of progressive politics and social well-being, which have survived 60 years. But we are going through a situation in which these ideals are being destroyed.’

Krishna Menon states that ‘Menon is an inspirational teacher with a deep sense of ethics that is mindful of the hierarchies and inequalities of our society. She is of course a brilliant scholar and a very important figure in the women's movement in our part of the world. It is worrying that someone who is such a fine thinker, teacher and scholar and a very diligent member of the higher education system of India should be vilified in this manner.’

“Nivedita Menon is the scholar whose work I teach most - accessible, rigorous and intellectually demanding at once! Most of my courses have more than one text written by her. Her work combines politics and theory engaging the reader, and pushing the boundaries of ones understanding in ways that are truly transformatory. At the same time, her style of writing is not obfuscating in the least. She is also one of the most charming and charismatic people I know. No wonder the right-wing is afraid of her. I admired her work long before I met her and admired her as a person, for her courage, her strength and her willingness to stand up and be counted always,” said Professor Shilpa Phadke.

Undoubtedly, the cerebral, intellectual and questioning voices like those of Menon are a threat to the current authoritarian character of our government, which holds the idea of ‘Mother India’ as a fragile, insecure and arbitrary ideology which for it, can be easily extinguished through discussions and debates.

The vilification of Menon just reveals how dirty political gimmicks have become the authoritarian agenda of the current day and age, with democracy gasping for breath.

(Editors note: Zee News targeted Menon for a vilification campaign that it ran with her photograph for days. It added poet Gauhar Raza to this campaign later. This is part of targeting by a pliant media of a scholar whose credentials are impeccable, who has for long spoken out for the underprivileged, for gender rights and justice. This attack on her is reprehensible and has to be condemned in the interests of free speech, and the democratic principles enshrined in the Indian Constitution).

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