Dear Students of NIT Srinagar, I am writing this letter to you as a citizen of the country, a father and as an Ex-NITian. I know no celebrity will write open letter to you, no intellectual DU professor will write an editorial expressing interest to adopt you, and no great media write will waste his eloquence in writing flowery Op-ed as tribute to your bravery in extremely hostile environment. I am writing because it means much to ordinary Indian.
Some pictures have the ability of changing the course of the history. The one that I have put up here is one such. Media is in search of finding such pictures and as we know now, at times driven by agendas, fabricating and propagating one. But amid those fabricated, choreographed and photoshopped images, some like paper Tricolor being raised in the heart of the valley at NIT Srinagar stand as some kind of message of divine intention in their innocence and truth. This paper tricolor carries a value much higher than the paper tigers eulogized by the media in JNU. It will escape the cynical and agenda-driven minds who first create a devil of hyper-nationalism from a true and venerable nationalism and then indulge in quixotic fights in studios and at times on Social media with outrageous anti-national hashtags. That’s less about the idea that people fight over, more about the people who are fighting. It is about mainstream media losing its role as opinion creators, on account of losing credibility.
Dear friends of NIT, You need not worry about that. Not about the mainstream media not covering you, not about well-dressed big-shot millionaire top-shot political lawyers not representing your right to report you, not about none of those big media names descending on your campuses to conduct televised debates and interviews by gushing reporters. There neglect isn’t a comment on you, it is a comment on them. In a nation with richest media stars with resources to cover Arab Spring, the reports of NIT Srinagar standoff comes on international media, and national media tries hard to ignore it till whispers turn to voices and voices to slogans and noise. You mustn’t worry about it.
Engineers aren’t generally liked by most. Jokes of nerdish boys going out of city, coming back to get married and then silently serve the nation in double-shift with honest taxes on salaried life are pretty abundant. Nothing romantic there, like almost drugged dances of high sounding principles of liberty and fake secularism in hallowed campuses, bodies gyrating to chants of Azaadi in engineering campuses.
Not that engineers are away from national conscience. Engineers are closest to realistic national conscience. Engineers are too clear in their minds to be fooled by inflated ideas, or be fooled by religion. Engineering campuses are the most secular campuses we have. They don’t interest media and unfortunately, not even political parties. In 91, in sleepy, dusty town of Raipur, students went with black flags opposing casteist policies of VP Singh. The ills of the plague which started with VP Singh, we found culminating in Haryana, Jat reservations twenty five years later. You can count on an engineer to see through the weakness of political arguments. It was so then. It is so now. As now, then it ended with police baton charge, six - seven policemen hitting mercilessly one or two they caught. Six students ended up in hospitals and I saw as second year student, for the first time, police as political tool. But then it was some page 11 story in newspaper, no politician visiting campus. We got the point. Engineering colleges are free of electoral politics. This makes engineering students not much supported by local political forces. We had seen it whether it was Congress goons of Shukla brothers, or Chattisgarh Shiv Sena criminals. Only thing which kept us safe was our own unity and principled position.
Kashmir as per the most recent reports, Kashmir is the most pampered of all Indian states. Every illegal act of separatists is condoned under the pretext of the rabble-rousers, stone-pelters carrying Pakistani and now ISIS flags, being misguided Kashmiri youth. It is a shame. Why should we tax payer be continuing to fund the India baiters? Why should it be easier to raise enemy nation’s flag in one part of our country than our own national flag?
This bluff that any attempt to talk about India in Kashmir will create huge law and order issue needs to call off. It serves the interest of the politics on both sides, right and left to maintain the bogey of dangerous land. At the heart of it is the failure of law and order. When the crime gets colored, terrorism takes birth. This happened in the 1990s. When a murder or an insult of national symbols are not responded to as a law and order issue, under the idiotic guise of understand the Kashmiri aspirations, healing touch, it emboldens the lawless mobs and it gets emboldened, gathers mass from the lawless watchers. A law and order problem becomes a fountain of terrorism by the mollycoddling of the state.
I can see the state which was positioned and out to power as a nationalistic replacement to a vacillating government is fast becoming similar to the one it replaced. The government stretching out healing touch to people who bless Pakistan and curse India is unable to find time to properly reach out to you. Do not be dishearten by that. They have always been like that. They know that you will complete your education and go on to do double shift in some fertilizer plant or write codes in some IT company to send the next mission to Mars. They know you will build the nation and give them something to go around the world with something to be proud about. They know you will be one of the 3% of contributors to direct taxes, and build the nation.
But they also in their vile calculations, know that you will not be their future. You will not further their political mechanization. That is why the journalists who found Kanhaiya’s smile went to his eyes, will not find time to visit your campus, the lawyers from Congress who defended those who beckoned people to break the country will not fight your battles. Not that there are no great lawyers in right wing, but they will not come to your rescue. They did not when we went to the Jail in our time, when we were beaten by the police, they will not now. They did not even came for the Military Intelligence officer who is in Jail for seven years without bail. So it is a lonely fight. But worry not. If this government wakes up, you present an opportunity to change things for better. If it could find courage in the strong winds of support for you which flows subtly across the country.
We see hope in you. We see our younger souls in you. We see our future kids in you. We are with you. If it is audacity of youth which you represent, give me some more of it. The farmer in Andhra and villager in Latur and the shop-keeper in Imphal hopes in your victory and hopes someday, this government will find its heart and its mind. Now we know, how deep the rot runs. It stands exposed and it stands exposed to be cured, if only our leadership could find its heart in its place. In the meantime, our hearts beat for you. Be there, steadfast, for you are loved. Even if it means being angry with the government which is fast disowning its own nationalistic credentials, so be it. To quote Mark Twain, “Loyalty to the country ALWAYS. Loyalty to the government, when it deserves.” And for the powers that may be, which came with massive and definitive mandate in the center, the message on behalf of many disenchanted supporters, comes from Theodore Roosevelt, “Patriotism means to stand by the country. It does not mean to stand by the President or any other Public officials, save exactly to the degree in which he himself stands by the country. It is patriotic to support him insofar as he efficiently serves the country. It is unpatriotic not to oppose him to the exact extent that by inefficiency or otherwise he fails in stand by the country.”
Don’t stand down kids, we are proud of you and stand by you, we the unheard masses of the country. Don’t worry if the national media has moved to a fading superstars' love-letters, we continue thinking about you and praying for you. You are NOT alone in this.