JNU issue: Concerned over the Jawaharlal Nehru (JNU) row, Congress leader Shashi Tharoor today said the government should not interfere much in the functioning of universities and that such educational institutions should be treated as autonomous.
“My personal view is that we shouldn’t have too much government interference in universities. Even as minister, I felt our education system is over-regulated and under-governed,” Tharoor said on the sidelines of ‘Make in India Week’ here.
“We should leave universities as autonomous places,” he said, adding that as a minister he would not have written to the Vice Chancellor about matters related to disciplining or punishments.
The former Minister of State for Human Resource Development was reacting to the controversy at JNU that erupted last week over holding an event on the campus against the hanging of Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru. During the event, anti-India slogans were alleged to have been raised, while denouncing the hanging of Guru.
Subsequently, JNU Students’ Union president Kanhaiya Kumar was arrested on sedition charges, following complaints by BJP MP Maheish Girri and ABVP.
Expressing his disappointment on incidents in Hyderabad and JNU, Tharoor said “this is not the India of the future that we are trying to build”.
“We want an India where students grow up in an academic environment of hope, an academic environment where they have freedom to think and express themselves and to disagree,” he said.
“Disagreement is the essence of democracy, we should let them have that,” he added.
Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi had earlier condemned the Modi government for “bullying” an institution like JNU.
Tharoor, a Congress MP for Thiruvananthapuram, also observed that “the university experience is one where students should not feel intimidated by the rules to a point where you are seeing the president of JNUSU being locked-up for three days”.
“That is deeply distressing,” he said.
Tharoor also said he has moved a private members bill to change the sedition law.
“I felt sedition is another one of these British impositions which the British themselves have abandoned which we’re stuck with. We should definitely have a law which forbids people from inciting violence,” he noted.
Tharoor said the bill, which deals with restricting the applicability of the sedition law, was introduced in the Parliament and has to come up for discussion.
“I certainly hope now it will,” he said.