Rahul Da Cunha: Kanhaiya, I can hear ya

Rahul da CunhaTWENTY fours years ago, my friend Sabbas Joseph (now the Wizcraft chief) and I stood nervously outside the St Xavier's College principal's office — Sabbas was the editor of the college magazine, The Xavierite — he'd written a controversial piece on the faulty nature of conducting exams. I'd written something on the questionable nature of the church.

Considering this was a Catholic college, somebody felt we were being 'seditious'. And had to be pulled up. We were certain that we were going to be expelled, Miraculously, we weren't. But it was the first taste I had of college politics, not in the way that say Elphistone had over us Xavierites.

Illustration/Uday Mohite

Meaning, we didn't really have the 'Jhola carrying, khadi kurta wearing Commie' as we referred to them.

For the most part, we tripped out on Lennon, while they worshipped Lenin.

But I was aware of one thing. That, as students, we had a small window in which we could free think, before the constrictions of adulthood would kick in.

And it was our duty as students to 'dream unfettered'.

We always heard about Jawaharlal Nehru University as being an institution where political chat was as vital as the curriculum. Students were encouraged to analyse, argue, make mistakes, the berth was wide.

And the teachers encouraged it.

Because I enjoyed my Xavier's years so much, the collegian in me has never died.

Which is why I'm appalled at how students are being treated today.

Across campuses in the country, the young are 'revolting'.

Film students at FTII, dalit scholars at Hyderabad University, and Kanhaiya Kumar at JNU.

I'm not fully up with the Afzal Guru brouhaha, I'm not clear why Kanhaiya Kumar is being held in juducial custody.

But I'm certain about one reality: That older people in 2016 India cannot handle younger people standing up for themselves, they cannot handle dissent.

They cannot handle independence.

"Children should be seen and not heard agitating at all".

Have you, by any chance, read the young man's speech, dear reader? The one being considered anti-national? That wasn't sedition, it was just sensational writing.

It was political. The words had patriotism, the tone had passion, it wasn't preachy.

For someone so young to feel such yearning for his 'desh', I mean did his words 'incite people to rebel against the authority of a state', the term sedition asks? What I saw instead was a bunch of hooligans, masquerading as lawyers beating the young man up.Kumar's speech had depth. It had die-hard nationalism. It had direction. It had dynamism.

And, in my humble view, all those who feel it was seditious need to be swiftly sedated. This country is increasingly becoming 'Games of Thrones' meets 'The Goon Show'. I am steadily losing faith in the politics of our nation.

Where's the 'start-up India', when all the youth are seeing is a 'clamp-down India'?

What is the point of the progressive 'Make in India, when the regressive 'Break In India' is reserved for the young?

Rahul da Cunha is an adman, theatre director/playwright, photographer and traveller. Reach him at rahuldacunha62@gmail.com

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