The protests that erupted at the Jawaharlal Nehru as well as the Delhi Universities ended up with one particular section complaining that there was an attack on freedom of expression. While the right to express is enshrined in the Indian Constitution, what is more important is that it cannot be selective in nature.
The Left-leaners have often complained that Right Wingers have curbed their freedom of expression. However, according to Saroj Kumar Rath, assistant professor of History at the Sri Aurobindo College (Eve), University of Delhi, freedom of expression cannot be selective in nature.
In this candid chat with OneIndia, Rath opens up about the recent protests at the DU. "We teachers of DU are presiding over mass failure. While there cannot be a curb on the freedom of expression, one must also bear in mind that it cannot be selective in nature," Rath says.
Selective freedom of expression:
"The Ramjas incident shows us that there is a clear cut divide between the Left and the Right. This issue should not have cropped up in the first place even. They have invited persons against whom there were cases. It looks to me that they had intentionally done this. Did they bother calling other student leaders? They seemed to be bent upon promoting just one school of thought," Rath says.
"If the Left thinkers believe in freedom of expression, then they cannot be selective. Have a view point from both sides at an event. Moreover, they should also call persons with more knowledge (on the subject) to speak about an issue such as this. There is no point in calling outdated people just because they are not happy with the NDA government," he adds.
'We are presiding over mass failure'
"We as teachers are sitting over mass failure. We have not been able to imbibe into the minds of students several things so that such events are prevented. C V Raman had once said that patriotism is love for the soil. He said that teachers should not indulge in petty politics," Rath adds.
"In this case I would want to point out that Gurmehar Kaur was never part of the protest. She did not know what was happening. I think this particular episode was completely unwanted," Rath points out. "What was the need for her to bring up her father's name? This was completely unnecessary," he says.
"We have noticed that the students are looking for a reason to protest. We see one incident or another every single day, and they say freedom of expression is under threat. If there is one protest then the debate goes towards freedom of expression. The Left believes that there should be no Right view and vice versa," he says.
"Another thing I fail to understand is India's fascination with those who are defamed. There are many role models and there is no need to worship people with negativity," he concludes.