The Jawaharlal Nehru University administration asking for the CVs of eminent historian Romila Thapar and several other distinguished academics like molecular biologist Asis Datta and theoretical physicist R. Rajaraman is an exercise in futility that flows from a motivated desire to meddle in the affairs of one of the nation’s top social science institutions. In Romila Thapar’s case, it is nothing but political vendetta as she is an acerbic critic of the present government’s stand on history, which it wants to be rewritten in its ideological mould, based on India’s ancient wisdom. To claim it is due process to seek the CVs for emeritus professors, already up on the JNU website and which needs no further elaboration, is just a smokescreen. JNU’s actions are in keeping with the trend of a revenge-seeking ruling party that wants to humiliate anyone seen crossing its path even over intellectual differences in academic matters.
It’s the mindset that’s to blame for such pinpricks inflicted on opponents, flowing from ideological undercurrents. Take, for instance, the FIR against a TV journalist who taped visuals of a substandard mid-day meal of rotis and salt served in a school in UP’s Mirzapur district. This was a clear case of shooting the messenger when the government’s response should have been to get to the root of the problem and fix it. Vindictiveness by rulers will only boomerang on them through image hits, bolstered by the spread of the social media. Claims of misreporting based on assumed malice on the part of some don’t cut ice when the administration’s shortcomings are clear. The rulers would do well to heed the message and take corrective action.