Lessons on ‘nationalism’ by JNU teachers now part of book

New Delhi: What started as an attempt to counter the existing definition of “nationalism” by JNU teachers has now shaped up as a book titled “What the Nation Really Needs to Know”.

The month-long “nationalism lecture series” was conducted last year by JNU Teachers Association (JNUTA) following the alleged “branding” of the university as a “den of anti- nationals” when three of its students were charged with sedition for participating in an event during which anti- national slogans were allegedly raised.

Twenty-four lectures delivered by eminent academicians, intellectuals and historians including Romila Thapar, Harbans Mukhia, Tanika Sarkar, Jayati Ghosh, Prabhat Patnaik, Amit Sengupta, Mridula Mukherjee, Makaranad Paranjpe and Apporvanand, have been compiled and edited in the book published by HarperCollins India.

“The nationalism row was a historical movement in not only JNU’s history but also the country’s. The book is an important archival document for us as to how the university stood up against forceful feeding of an idea of nationalism,” a JNUTA member said.

The 368-page book will be launched at JNU on January 25 when the third series of lectures – “Democratising social justice” will conclude. The second series was on “Azaadi”.

Lectures that are part of the book were delivered as sit-ins at the administrative block-venue of protest after the student’s arrest. The place began to be known as “azaadi chowk” of the “freedom square” until last month when the administration banned holding protests in that area, terming it to be a violation of university norms.

Four JNU professors- Janaki Nair, Rohit Azad, Mohinder Singh and Mallarika Sinha Roy- have contributed to the editing of the essays while the pictures taken by students during the lecture series have also been included in the book.

Nair has written an introduction for the book in which the lectures that were delivered in Hindi have been retained in that language only.