Dial 'J' for Jeopardy: JNU, Jats and how the State handled the challenges

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Two events rocked India this month. The first is the fiasco in Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) where alleged anti-India sloganeering saw police crackdown in the campus, leading to an impact in other parts of the country and also abroad. The second is the ongoing Jat agitation in Haryana demanding reservation in the OBC category and the violence that accompanied it led to the death of a number of people.

The two J-incidents within a gap of a few days show how our State has failed us---by stoking hyper-nationalist sentiments and playing with a fire called reservation. Both these issues warn our leaders to act carefully in days to come if we want our democracy to remain a vibrant one.


State's ploy to mobilise support

In the JNU case, there was little necessity for a police crackdown, an act that created enough opportunity for the elements to misuse a sensitive situation by fuelling excessive nationalist sentiments. The problem could have been handled at the administrative level and it could have been ensured that the impact did not go beyond the university premises. But the State decided to use the opportunity to mobilise its support on an issue opposing which is a sin.

At a time when the country is facing security threats and its economy is awaiting drastic reforms but failing to do so because of frustrating political reasons, a strong dose of hyper-nationalism was bound to help the establishment in regaining the people's faith and with it, the moral authority.

Nationalism always seals the deal in favour of the State

The decision to install mammoth Tricolours atop central universities was a logical conclusion of this hyper-nationalist project as it would mobilise support for the State: the ultimate authority in man's political life and reduce anybody opposing it, in whatever capacity, to enemy of the nation. The victory was certain for the State even if it came at the expense of lives of some young individuals who have their own patterns of thought.

In reservation fiasco, the State again mobilised support but through division

In case of the Jat agitation, it was again the result of the State's design to mobilise support, but this time by dividing people. The promise of providing reservation to the Jats was always going to be dangerous for the issue not only involves legal complexities but also threatens to create a wide divide between communities with varying social status.

Nationalism and reservation make up ploys to mobilise support for the State

Just like the State uses hyper-nationalism to defeat critical thinking by flagging off a horizontal mobility, it uses the reservation to seal the electoral prospects by fuelling a competition for vertical mobility. The end result is dangerous in both cases as it doesn't satisfy any quarter in the ultimate count.

The State's never-ending ploy of granting reservation to gain from artificial social divisions has been continuing for decades now and no political force ever feels the need to oppose it so that our democracy is identified by its merit.

State has more problems than solutions; hence it needs tactics to survive another day

For the State, problems are far too many than solutions. And that's why may be it requires to think out ways to save the day, even if it comes at the cost of the society and its member individuals.

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