When I wrote the first open letter, not being a professor, I didn’t profess that it would amount to stepping on a raw nerve of a group of people I am in absolute awe of.
My own claim to fame in connection with the most respected profession on this planet is almost non-existent, as I casually dabble into it for personal enjoyment; and yet, a lot of you granted me with honour of being your equal by bestowing professorship upon me. Some you even awarded me with PhD by calling me Dr. Shukla, without realising that outside academic circles, such an exalted status is revered by us commoners.
While I am deeply thankful to you for all the readership and honour, let me tell you something that has petrified me.
This time without resorting to sarcastic humour, as it is an issue of deepest implications for my beloved nation that I would not dare apply my shallow style of writing.
When I randomly picked NIRF to tear into, I knew I wasn’t inventing the wheel. Anyone even remotely linked with NIRF would recognise the age old apple-orange comparison fallacy in the process. And, it being barely three year old mechanism, it obviously needed feedback-based corrections. So, I never saw it as an issue that would evoke a viral episode, especially because it is a limited issue of a specific group.
What really bothered me about NIRF was the fact that it was demotivating some really hardworking young people of my nation working in state universities who wanted to do something meaningful but were not getting necessary support and recognition for their work. So, I lifted the pen, or rather hit the keyboard, by dipping my fingers in a pot of sarcasm that all things government deserve.
But, when the first reactions trickled in and quickly turned into a Niagara of sorts, I noticed two common themes.
Some welcomed my post as rise of yet another “leftist liberal intellectual” giving vent to their dislike for current political system by posting anti-government criticism. But, as I am proud to have an ambidextrous mind, and I think my nation has survived many LLIs without falling apart, I was not too worried about that.
What really worried me to the core was the fact that practically everyone thought that it was “brave” to write the piece.
If a group of highly intelligent thinking people of my nation think that applying mind to a government mechanism is “BRAVE” in the largest democracy in the world, I am struck with abject terror.
So, please read the rest of the prose straight from the heart of an unabashed Indian believing reverently in archaic idea of nation.
Dear Madams and Sir,
If you have watched young Chanu waving gold medal from top of the podium in recent Commonwealth games with our national anthem playing in the background, I know you have cried. Possibly a bit secretly, as most of you are intellectuals with a large neocortext full of social inhibitions; but you did, and I know it, because I did too.
We all did, as this place is our nation. We all just love it, damn it.
It is not fear that make us cry. It is pride of having a sovereign nation that we can call ours. India is our land, we are her people and there is nothing that beats this feeling.
While I feel this way about India, I presume that everyone else does it too; be it people in the government, man spitting pan on the road or a young soldier taking bullets in his chest while rushing up the slopes of Kargil hill, we all are part of a nation that has magical power to strike an emotional chord even in toughest of hearts.
So, however much I disagree with any stakeholder of my nation, I never feel that any Indian can’t be convinced about something that is for greater good.
As someone who is proud to be living in a democratic nation, I also feel that every government is my government that I trust to wish her people good. And I also feel that the era of deaf and dumb government is over.
Today we live in times where people are a force to reckon with, as new mediums have amplified the power of thought exponentially. They have unleashed a force akin to the one depicted in Star Wars. It has its dark side and its Jedi warriors, each with equal power to tap into its infinite resources.
What we need to understand is that no government can afford to become blind to ideas that people resonate with. And hence, the key to what a government will do hides in which idea is made to resonate with people.
I agree that a lot of fear you feel is real, as political forces have a stranglehold on state universities, making retribution a norm and not an exception. But, please understand that no political system can survive while bucking an idea that people like.
My dear professors, you are Jedi warriors armed with sabre of intellect that you refuse to wield out of fear, but that is not of as much worry. The bigger problem is that forces from the dark side are wielding theirs with impunity because they have sensed your fear.
Fear disconnects you from the force, making you helpless and vulnerable. It robs you of your voice and your dignity.
Please rise. Please trust your nation, your government and restore your faith in power of greater good.
I don’t need to look for an anthem to suit the mood, sirs and madams, as we already have it. All we need you to do is to recollect and reinstate it.
Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high.
Where knowledge is free.
Where the mind is led forward by thee
Into ever-widening thought and action.
Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let teachers of my nation awake.