Cow vigilantism, European edition
Sir — It was infuriating to read about the the manner in which Hindu right-wing organizations protested against the inclusion of beef on the menu of an Indian food festival in Frankfurt organized by the Indian consulate-general. The Kerala Samajam Frankfurt, which had participated in the food fest, had decided to serve the Keralite delicacies, beef curry and parotta, but right-wing groups threatened to create unrest at the event. The KSF had to take the item off the menu. It is bad enough that people in India are killed in the name of gau raksha; why has such a flagrant violation of rights under the guise of cow protection and “Indian culture” been allowed to prevail in a European nation? In this manner, India’s food diversity will fast disappear.
Sir — The captain of the Indian women’s cricket team for Tests and one-day internationals, Mithali Raj, is undoubtedly one of the finest cricketers in the history of the sport in the nation. It was, thus, saddening to learn that the Jodhpur-born cricketer has announced her retirement from the Twenty20 international format, in order to focus on preparing for the World Cup (“Mithali focus on 2021 Cup”, Sept 4). Raj is the country’s leading run-scorer in T20s — she scored 2,364 runs in total in the course of her T20 career. She is also the first Indian woman to touch the 2,000-run milestone in the format. Given her experience, her retirement from T20s is going to be a big blow for the T20 squad. The team will certainly feel her absence on the field in the upcoming T20 international tournaments, and must figure out a strategy to handle the void created by Raj’s exit.
Sir — It is truly unfortunate that a senior batswoman like Mithali Raj has felt compelled to put an end to her illustrious T20 international career in order to focus on ODI cricket, keeping the 50-over World Cup in 2021 in mind. One wonders whether the selectors, who have, in the past, been accused of being biased against Raj — in spite of her having scored consecutive half-centuries against Ireland and Pakistan at the International Cricket Council’s Women’s World T20 in 2018, she had been excluded from the team for the semi-final against England — will allow her to play the game in peace over the next two years. Further, will Raj be allowed to retire honourably and at the right time?
Sir — Mithali Raj’s retirement from T20Is is a big blow to Indian cricket in general and women’s cricket in particular. Her captaincy as well as her skill with the bat were instrumental in many of India’s victories.
Sir — The demand made by the administration of the Jawaharlal Nehru University of the eminent historian, Romila Thapar, the molecular biologist, Asis Datta, the theoretical physicist, R. Rajaram, and several other distinguished academics to produce their curricula vitae was shocking. There is no doubt that the demand stemmed from a politically-motivated desire to meddle in the affairs of one of the nation’s top institutions for the social sciences. It is certainly a political vendetta at play in the case of Thapar, as she has been an acerbic critic of the Union government’s blatant attempts to rewrite history in its own ideological mould.
The move to ask for the CVs of the professors emeriti, the credentials of whom were already on the website, was just a smokescreen. The university administration’s actions are in keeping with the ruling party’s attempts to humiliate anyone with whom it has intellectual differences over academic matters. Amartya Sen, for example, was forced to resign from the governing body of Nalanda University after the board was reconstituted by the government.
The right-wing in India has a great aversion to education and critical thinking. Independent thought is its enemy. That is why critics of the government such as Sen and Thapar have to face such harassment.
Sir — It was disturbing to note that a renowned historian like Romila Thapar was asked to submit her CV by the registrar of JNU, in spite of her long teaching career. Her contributions to academia are immense. The demand for her CV was deeply insulting and clearly politically motivated.
The attitude of the present regime at the Centre towards intellectuals and reputed academics who are critical of its policies is no secret. Therefore, it has become common practice to target well-established institutions in the country in order to further the agenda of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, largely known as the parent organization of the Bharatiya Janata Party. Should not the government be focusing its energies on creating employment and reducing prices of essential goods?
Sir — Romila Thapar being asked to submit her CV to get her work evaluated by a committee appointed by JNU in order to ascertain whether she can continue as professor emerita is preposterous. She has justifiably refused to comply with the demand. It is well-known that the Narendra Modi-led government cannot tolerate dissent; with its second mandate, won by a huge margin, it is riding roughshod over its critics. The attempt to target Thapar can be attributed to the fact that she has been critical of the Centre’s push to privatize education, erode the autonomy of educational institutions and crush dissent. In her book, The Public Intellectual in India, she has analysed the growing intolerance in the country under Modi’s reign. The attempt to humiliate her is an ominous sign for the country.
n Sir — Twelve professors emeriti of JNU have been asked for their CVs so that the university can ‘decide’ whether they may retain their positions. The irony is not lost, as these are people who have been honoured by the university. They are no longer employees who may be dismissed — JNU pays them no salaries. There can be nothing in the CV of a retired teacher which constitutes grounds for dismissal. One wonders how the redoubtable M. Jagadesh Kumar, the vice-chancellor of JNU, would respond if the CV of a figure such as M.S. Golwalkar was asked for in order to ascertain whether ‘Guruji’ ought to be withdrawn from his name. Golwalkar earned the title when he was teaching zoology at Banaras Hindu University.