Sunday, April 26, 2020

A lockdown... A protest...

This is a protest meeting, albeit, we are attending an academic lecture. In the winter of 2017-18, the admin introduced compulsory attendance system for all JNU scholars from undergraduate level till PhD. The move was accepted by neither students nor teachers.

JNU celebrates the culture of open lectures where classes are generally attended by one and all who is part of the community. Often some professors too attend a senior professor's lecture sitting alongside students. For the teachers, attendance register was an insult to their academic credibility.. they argued that students will come and attend or reject a lecture on their own.. the content and quality of the lecture made a professor or course important. Attendance was a mild form of corporal punishment to an otherwise tradition of learning for excellence.

Thus, the whole university unitedly imposed a lockdown. A lockdown of spaces that demanded attendance registation. The message was clear, classrooms will be locked down, but learning will go on.

We attended classes like this, in lawns, on the corridors, and anywhere we could do except classrooms. This is Prof. Janaki Nair giving a lecture on Capitalism and Colonialism. And those are us, the batch of MA CHS 2016-18.

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Monday, April 20, 2020

Chinkis & Miyas: Stories of Xenophobia in times of Virus & Viral Videos

The Corona Virus outbreak has provably ripped apart the fundamental text book idea of “Unity in Diversity” which has been endorsed by BJP MP Tejaswi Surya on Kunal Kamra’s Podcast only two days back.

As the media started to report about the pandemic in its hyperactive form, most people started treating it as an act of war from China’s end and not a health emergency. This resulted in brewing hatred towards the North Eastern people who live in mega cities like Delhi, Bengaluru & Kolkata. In one particular case, a Manipuri girl was spat on at Delhi making Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal condemned the incident.

Other such cases have been reported throughout the month of March from across the country. Even Bollywood singer and former Indian Idol contestant Meiyang Chang said that while he was out on his morning walk in Mumbai, two men on a bike sped past him shouting "corona". Numerous other such cases have been reported since then and there has been a uniform voice against such discrimination. Last month the virus outbreak was mild and the public sentiment was sane.

One week into the lockdown, panic and anxiety started to kick in. On 2nd April, Arunachal Pradesh got it’s first Corona infected patient. An asymptomatic yet positive Muslim man who visited the Tablighi Jamaat at Nizamuddhin Delhi. As the news spread, xenophobia started brewing on social media against the said man and his community. In a group called “Voice of Arunachal” on Facebook which has almost 2.4 Lakh members, people demanded that the infected person be not brought to the state even in a quarantine facility. Some over excited ones are abusing muslims in general for bringing the virus to their state. The saner members are trying to negotiate on the group.

Some Selected Screenshots from the Group: