A ‘Possibly Anti-National’ Law Student Writes an Open Letter to Smriti Irani

Dear Smriti Irani,

At the very outset let me mention that I’m not affiliated to any political party. I’m neither a Bhakt, nor a Congi. Not even an AAPtard. I am however a student with fierce opinions on the current situation at JNU and I wish to receive some clarifications from you.

Ever since your appointment to the HRD Ministry, there had been a lot of scepticism.

Everyone was stunned when an actor from a less than progressive TV show (and I base this on hearsay; I’d shoot myself if I actually had to watch an episode) was handed over the country’s education. But your party backed you up. The Prime Minister himself backed you up.

And many dismissed the initial scepticism to your appointment as misguided enthusiasm. After all it was only fair that you should be judged on the merit of your work in office instead of your past credentials (Interestingly this argument was also used for Gajendra Chauhan’s forceful appointment to the FTII).

At the time of writing this letter however, Miss Irani, you’ve had 21 months in office, and I believe you owe the student community some serious answers.

1. Over the last few days, the JNU issue has escalated tremendously. Lives are at threat, constitutional rights are being violated, and there is an aura of danger on the campuses of one of the premier universities in this country.
It is also spreading fast to other universities and campuses.

One of the main parties to the conflict is the student body of the ruling party of which you happen to be a prominent part.

Why is it Ma’am that you have kept your distance on the issue, not visited the campus and tried to address the situation, or even try to diffuse it by asking the ABVP party cadres to end the hostility? Surely they would listen to you if you told them, and that would significantly lower the tensions on campus.

2. In the last few months, there have been more than 10 instances of police violence on university campuses. Why, Madam, are students being beaten up?

We are the ones who have travelled from different parts of the country, often under difficult circumstances, to further our intellectual pursuits and use it for the betterment of the nation.

At a time when violent crimes and crimes against women are on the rise, do you really think we, the student community, are a threat to the nation? JNU isn’t the first place this is happening at. And going by the current trend, it definitely won’t be the last.

And through all of this, you, the Minister in charge of our future, have silently sided with the oppressors, even as the student community has been hopeful that you’ll have a change of heart at some point of time or the other.

3. Yesterday, you have made a decision with all the Vice Chancellors to hoist 207 feet tall Indian flags in all central universities, beginning with JNU. When implemented, these flags will be twice the height of the tallest flag we have currently. Which is a great thing, Madam. T

he sight of my country’s flag flying high usually excites me and fills me with pride. Pride in my country’s achievements and its past as one of the most progressive nations in South East Asia.

But these flags will not do that. These flags will remind me of the time my government forcefully labelled me as a threat, oppressed me and snatched away my basic rights and stripped me of my dignity. They will remind me of Rohith Vemula’s death and Kanhaiya Kumar’s unconstitutional arrest.

By not addressing the core issues and by politicising the tricolour, you’ve effectively ensured that these flags will fly high over the carcass of the Indian education system.

There are other issues I have with your policies, but I shall keep them for some other day. At this point of time, as a student in the country, I feel threatened by the government. And that doesn’t seem very normal to me.

All that Mr. Modi had to offer at a recent all parties meet was that “I am the Prime Minister of India, not BJP.” Similarly, even the HRD Ministry is responsible for all the students in the country, not just those affiliated to the student groups of the political party in power.

Sedition charges are the remnants of a colonial era which have no place in modern society, and was used by the British to oppress Indians. It is a shame that now we Indians are using the same law against each other.

There are a lot of answers awaited from you, and we the students are waiting eagerly. I’d also urge you to personally take part in inclusive dialogue with the students and end the current hostilities at JNU, as well as release the democratically elected student leader of the university.

In case you are out of answers, maybe it is time to hand over the Ministry to someone else and move back to primetime television.

With little respect and much concern,

A possibly anti-national student.

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Comments Till Now

  1. Gunjan Saxena says:

    It is high time that we realize that political affiliations of the youth will yeild no good to this nation. It is necessary that we start respecting everyone’s opinion because that tends to expand our perspective and make us more rational while considering the pros and cons of a situation. I hope we do not forget the virtue of equality so much that we start considering an individual lesser than a society, sure we know that society is made of individuals and specially democracy is found upon popular representation and not singular. We surely should not forget that the parliament comprising of opposition and the government are the Union of India and not only the government, if the right questions are not asked at the right time in the parliament by the persons responsible a law may not undergo any scruitiny for the good.

    Also that, it is important for us to understand that theatrics and policy making require two different qualifications and therefore being critical of merging the latter based on the excellence in the former is a nasty approach which surely questions rationality.

    • Gunjan Saxena says:

      Also that, it is important for us to understand that theatrics and policy making require two different qualifications and therefore not* being critical of merging the latter based on the excellence in the former is a nasty approach which surely questions rationality.

  2. 1). Whatever this guy has said about Mrs. Smriti Irani’s past profession can not be a ground to restrain her from being an HRD minister. However I do agree with his “unquoted and latent words” that there should be some ,at least minimum, qualifications attached to a person for holding portfolio of ministry of India’s future.Having said that, I dont find Mrs. Irani to be a fit candidate for being an HRD minister though she could have been an asset to ministries related to art and culture.

    2). Regarding words and mode of expressing them used in the letter are rude and disrespectful. One must not forget ,howsoever infuriated he/she is, that the person he/she has addressed in his/her letter is a cabinet minister of Republic of India and by virtue of her post she needs to be respected, I am not suggesting to apologize but just expect from him to be a bit more respectful and modest next time whenever he/she communicates his/her concern to minister or otherwise.

    3). Regarding the law of sedition, it is not at all inhuman or brutal to have such laws. I do agree that British used those laws to oppress us but now those laws are no more in nature of oppression rather are in nature of regulation as they have been given widest enough interpretation to come anywhere near to oppression.

    4). At last regarding arrest of jnu student, it is very much clear ,for those who know law, that the trial ,if there will be, of this student would culminate with his discharge of any charge of sedition, this is legal point. But what about the acts they committed, slogans they have raised etc. Should we be mute spectators and Wait for the day when they will actually execute their words into actions and thereafter think that we should have put a stop right at the beginning of all this.

    Hope you would understand and visualise things in right context and way.

  3. Vatsalya Vishal says:

    I don’t know about the nationalist or anti – nationalist inclination of this guy, but one thing is for sure that this guy is rude as anything. sir you need to know the difference between criticism and insult. when you criticize a person you criticize the ideology they purport, you criticize their work or anything which is worth reflecting your thoughts upon, rather you took your arguments a level up and start commenting on her acting profession. Before you can advise someone to go back to ‘acting’ as you want her to, please get up in a position like her first. you are actually not even no one, you are actually nothing to comment on her acting or anything like that. Be the finalist of Miss India, acquire the record of winning five consecutive Best actress award for that very show which you would like to shoot yourself up before watching and rise up fighting tooth and nails to the level of HRD minister in this male dominated political system and then comment anything over her profession. Till then saying it euphemistically, shut it.
    Rest since it is an open letter to Mrs. Irani, let us wait whether she responds to this one not. Au revoir.

  4. Regarding point no. 2, how can the Union HRD Minister be made answerable for police intervention in State Universities?

    The introduction paragraph appears to be a personal attack on the Minister.

    One expects more sophisticated drafting from law students as well as lawyers.

  5. Truely Indian says:

    What do you mean when you say “snatched away my basic rights and stripped me of my dignity”.
    Is hoisting a national flag amounts to all that what you say.

    It is to be remembered that we stand in the Indian Soil and all these elite university are central funded. In countries like US, every government organisation needs to hoist a national flag. What is wrong if the same happens in India.

    Remember the time when Naveen Jindal won the case to hoist the flag and the SC had delivered the judgement that flag belongs to the citizens of the country and not to any party government or political party.

    In no way can an fluttering Indian flag take away the basic rights of an individual.

  6. True Indian says:

    So national flag would make your head hung in shame. Are you an Indian Citizen?

    • Gunjan Saxena says:

      You surely need to read the opinion with a broader mind set than you probably have. It does not imply that one is feeling ashamed of the flag but it reinforces a psychological perspective that the introduction, of a pious policy, for retaliation, is not a very good idea as it in all probabilities maligns the virtue of respecting our beloved tri-colour as the reason from where the policy emanates is for enforcing deterrent effect and not purely bringing people together to celebrate indian integrity.

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