State should not dictate meaning of nationalism: IIT-B faculty

Condemning the 'overreach' of the State in various educational institutions and alleged attempts to stifle dissent and suppress differences, IIT Bombay faculty has come out in support of agitating JNU students, saying the State should not dictate meaning of 'nationalism'.

"The State cannot dictate on the many meanings of what it is to be 'Indian' or mandate the meaning of 'nationalism'. Rather, the State should be the one that makes sure that multiple ways of imagining one's relationship with the nation are allowed to flourish especially when it might contradict dominant ways of thinking," the faculty members said in a joint statement.

"We are deeply concerned with the recent events that have undermined the autonomy of institutions of higher education in this country. We believe that these institutions are spaces of critical thinking and expression. Matters of contention that might arise in the conduct of intellectual and social engagements need to be addressed democratically and rationally," it said.

The statement, signed by 42 teachers of the premier institute, said, "These methods in turn should be within the purview of institutional procedures that are responsible and accountable. We condemn the overreach of the State in the recent incidents in a number of institutions and the attempts of the right-wing to stifle dissent and suppress differences."

It reflects the stand of the signatory teachers and not the institution, it said.

Students and teachers of various educational institutions have been demanding release of JNU students' union president Kanhaiya Kumar who was arrested last week in a sedition case that was registered following an event on the varsity campus to protest against the hanging of Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru where anti-India slogans were allegedly raised.

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