In the face of all this, the government could not resist showing its fascist authoritarian face and used excessive force, including firing on protesters. The attack on JNU students has left the future of our country in dust and blood. It was also reflective of incompetence, insensitivity and anxiety of the dark forces when dealing with reasoned minds. To gain mass support for their authoritarian rule the ruling dispensation is running a sustained campaign, especially on social media, to discredit the thinking minds and intellectuals of the country. This campaign is nothing short from an assault on reason itself - a typical characteristic of fascism.

All fascist regimes of the world have targeted universities which are places of learning and debate as the intellectual minds put up the greatest resistance against the attack on reason, freedom of expression and liberty. In our country too, since this government came to power, we have seen a decline in the budgetary allocation for education, attempts to tamper with history and imposition of pseudo-science and hearsay in the curriculum of our children. More than that, we have seen University campuses turning into battlegrounds for they refuse to bow down to the sinister designs of the BJP-RSS combine. What happened in JNU on 5th January is not an isolated incident. It was a deliberate attempt to weaken the Anti Fee-Hike movement by scaring students. It was an attempt to intimidate student’s community, not just of JNU, but of the entire country and ward off their demand for quality public education. But the student community braved the assault and they are still fighting for their right to affordable public education and their freedom to dissent.

Starting from the FTII in Pune and Ambedkar-Periyar Study Circle in Chennai, students have resisted the attempts at imposing a fascist agenda on campuses. Whether it was the Occupy UGC movement or the massive protests after the institutional murder of Rohith Vemula, whether it was the attempt to malign JNU’ s image after the sedition row or the recent police atrocities on students of Jamia and AMU, the students fought shoulder-to-shoulder with intellectuals and activists. This unity is a cause of worry for the RSS-BJP combine and therefore, they have tried their best at demeaning and distorting the image of intellectuals and activists.

This virulent campaign was started by the PM himself when he drew parallels between “Hard-Work” and “Harvard” to taunt Dr. Amartya Sen. Dissenters from JNU and other universities were dubbed as anti-nationals and members of “Tukde-Tukde Gang”. Many human right activists were trolled on social media for their justified criticism of Police and Army excesses. Another Noble laureate Dr. Abhijit Banerjee was attacked on social media when he criticised the government’s economic policies. Union Minister Piyush Goyal dubbed him as “Leftist” as though being Leftist is bad and unreasonable. Any number of examples can be cited. All this smell of the deep contempt the BJP-RSS has for qualified reason and especially for the Left or Left leaning ones.

India has a long tradition of debate and discussions and arguments and counterarguments. Tolerance for the other or the different prevailed here and gave rise to this beautiful and diverse country. In modern times, intellectual leaders from such varied hues like Rammohun Roy, Vivekanada, Tilak, Gandhi, Nehru, Maulana Azad, Bhagat Singh, Ambedkar, Periyar etc. and their followers had diversity of opinion and they fiercely debated on every issue making India a pluralist and tolerant nation. This rationalistic legacy is being challenged today by the fascist forces of the BJP-RSS and their notorious IT cell. From Mussolini, Hitler, Franco to Modi-Shah, this pattern of delegitimising the thoughtful voices of sanity can be traced. They all made populist appeals to the youth based on demagoguery and emotion and tried downplaying reason and critical thinking. Through this, they wanted to turn the youth into violent troupes of Black Shirts or Brown Shirts in Italy and Germany respectively.

In India also, the ruling regime puts all it efforts to turn unemployed and frustrated section of our population into compliant robots of the IT cell or rancorous mobs, full of hatred and patriarchy. Knowing the intentions of the ruling regime, one cannot expect them to inculcate the values of reason and empathy for the people. The government treats citizens as subjects who will follow and obey its command. The students and the intelligentsia have made them clear that they will not succumb. The murders of Dr. Narendra Dabholkar, Govind Pansare, Prof. M. M. Kalburgi and Gauri Lankesh and any number of activists who have questioned and challenged the authority have not deterred the resistance. In fact, it gave impetus to the fighting spirit of people. They will fight against every injustice and they will question the unabated loot and plunder of the corporate while the common citizens suffer.

In a famous episode of the Franconian dictatorship in Spain, the philosopher and writer Miguel de Unamuno criticised the constricting environment of Spain. He said that “It torments me to think that General Millan Astray might dictate the norms of the psychology of the masses”. Spanish General Millan Astray summed up the fascist argument on intellectuals and critical minds when he replied to Unamuno. The General said “Death to intelligence! Long live death!” The reply of Unamuno is of special significance to us today in India. He said “You will win, because you have enough brute force. But you will not convince. In order to convince it is necessary to persuade, and to persuade you will need something that you lack: reason and right in the struggle.” What Unamuno said all these decades ago is of relevance for us. One can just add, no matter how much brute force they have.

Now the ideologues and leaders of RSS-BJP combine have started attacking the Left and left leaning intellectuals openly. They consider universities as the breeding ground of reason and rationality. That is why, we see from Chile to India, the authoritarian regimes targeted universities and institutions of higher learning. The history shows that the Left cannot be intimidated. The Left will emerge as the hope for the people and future. (IPA Service)