‘What is happening in India today is similar to the McCarthy era’: Partha Chatterjee

There is something ominously new in the manner in which the attack against freedom of thought and expression has been launched this time, says the noted political scientist.

Full text of the statement titled by the noted professor of political science to his colleagues and students at the Centre for Studies in Social Sciences, Kolkata

This is not the first time that freedom of thought and expression has been attacked in the Indian university. But there is something ominously new in the manner in which the attack has been launched this time.

We know that the sedition charge was applied across the board by British colonial rulers against anyone who expressed anti-colonial or nationalist views. Writers, artists, poets, and thousands of students and teachers were arrested for sedition alongside political leaders and agitators. But the British colonial officers, who were themselves among the best students of British universities who sat in a fiercely competitive examination to enter the highest paid civil service in the world, respected the British principle of the self-governing university. The unwritten rule that the police must not enter a university campus was observed in the early decades of independent India when I went to college. Student agitators engaged in a street fight with the police would often run for safety into the college campus, and the police would unfailingly stop at the college gates. The rule began to be violated from the 1970s. In regions of the country rocked by political agitation, the university campus was drawn into partisan conflicts between the government and the opposition. Students and teachers were arrested on charges of participating in violent agitations. Needless to say, in the North-eastern states or Kashmir, where state repression is long-standing and indiscriminate, the university campus was not spared.

Not since the Emergency

But I cannot remember, except for the period of the Emergency in 1975-77, a national campaign that asserts that certain political questions cannot even be talked about in the university. Are we to accept that national loyalty must be so unquestioned that the origins and present status of the nation and its boundaries, the nature of the constitution and the….

http://scroll.in/article/804293/what-is-happening-in-india-today-is-similar-to-the-mccarthy-era-partha-chatterjee

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