A Diary From JNU

Singing revolutionary songs was nothing new for us. However, going viral was definitely something new.

Photo: Suresh K. Pandey
Democracy In Action: Students stage a protest at the Jawaharlal Nehru University campus Photo: Suresh K. Pandey

Main Nahi Manta (I Don’t Agree)

The year 2019 was moving at its own pace. It was the month when elections were to be held at Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), New Delhi. The rays of the sun were warming up the winter mornings. It was also the month of those white flowers waiting for peace; forced to bloom and wither now and then for want of happiness. I was a member of the All India Students Association (AISA). My party, regardless of my disability, and on the basis of my eloquence and political ability, had chosen me as a political candidate to represent the School of Social Sciences in the coming elections. It is necessary to make it clear here that this is perhaps the only university where there is no need for any kind of economic, political, or social power to contest elections. Here, elections are contested only on an ideological basis. For this reason, it became possible that even a visually impaired student could get a chance to play his part, even if partially, in this democracy (which is being turned into a circus today), and was able to present his views in front of the students.

Going Viral

After finishing my campaign as well as that of my party’s for the day, I sat with my friends on the stairs and by chance started singing the nazm (poem) Main Nahi Manta by Habib Jalib. My friend recorded the song and sent it to many people. The time spent by a student in his/her university days is the time between his/her developing stage and developed stage—I was not an exception to this. During those days, my conceptual understanding was also taking its form. Faiz, Paash, Habib Jalib, Gorakh Pandey, Hegel, Marx, Lenin, etc are enough for raising the consciousness of any student; and in that period, they were becoming the carriers of my consciousness. Singing revolutionary songs was nothing new for us. However, going viral was definitely something new.

The very next morning, one of my friends had informed me that I had become viral. Initially, I did not understand the meaning of “going viral”. However, when the people from the media literally started making me lose my peace, I understood what going viral meant. All of a sudden, a simple student had become so famous that people from different walks of life surrounded him to ask questions. I never ever wanted to be the centre of attention for anyone. However, to like or not to like something like this was beyond my capacity. Fame brings pressure along with a sense of responsibility. At that time, there was so much pressure on me that I became mentally unstable. Initially, I tried to avoid this fame but gradually, I accepted it as my lot. Though I did come to terms with my situation, I started getting irritated. Many a time, I shouted at my journalist friends and I repent this behaviour till date. That used to be the state of affairs. However, as soon as the turmoil within me calmed down, I became normal.

Conscious Citizens

In the meantime, when people heard my voice, they started singing the song with me. The government did not like the song. This is the reason why Main Nahi Manta is being used today to display a petty political mindset and to make fun of those who believe in equality.

Just as things ranging from bulbs to airplanes have been invented on account of scientific research, the research conducted in the realm of social sciences has helped to form the Constitution and policies of this country and other countries. As a result, selfish secrets of power are easily understood by students of social sciences who try to resist them. It has also to be mentioned that intellectuals are the biggest threat to any government in the world. That is why using its machinery, the State is constantly engaged in branding intellectuals as terrorists, Naxalites, anti-nationals, recalcitrant, or insane. What is happening today is not different from this and it will continue until every citizen of India becomes conscious and learns to question authority and understand civil rights. Once we start asking questions, no government can ever harm us. One needs to remember that a change of government does not impact the system.

(Translated by Kaveri Mishra)

Shashi Bhushan ‘Samad’ is a writer and artist