Ever since Rohith Vemula was driven to death in the Hyderabad Central University and Kanhaiya Kumar was arrested under the colonial Act of Sedition, in Jawaharlal Nehru University an intense debate on nationalism has started.

Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, who studied in a Christian college—St.Stephen’s, characterized Rohith as extremist and anti-national. He also said that his Government won a victory by sending Kanhaiya Kumar, the president of the students union of the Jawaharlal Nehru university, to jail.

Earlier minister Bandaru Dattatreya described the HCU as a den of extremists, and anti-nationals. Smriti Irani, the HRD minister, gave several statements characterizing Rohith and Kanhaiya as anti-nationals, as part of the controversial discourse on nationalism.

There are two different ‘Ideas of Nationalism’ in India that posit India as a nation of two opposite camps. Rohith’s heritage of nationalism has its roots in the Indus Valley Civilization, where the early steps of science and technology were taken in the form of brick making, canal digging and iron melting. Those steps were taken by indigenous people much before the writing of the Vedas by the Aryans.

The nationalism of the Hindutva forces has its roots in the Rig Vedic war and the warrior might of Indra. The religious texts of Hindutva nationalism begin with praise for Indra, an Aryan war hero. But for Dalit bahujan nationalism, to which school Ambedkar and Rohith belong, human history starts with that of Gautam Buddha, who opposed all kinds of war and militarism. Rohith was a follower of Buddha, whereas the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad where Arun Jaitley schooled his politics, follows the heritage of the war hero’s of Rigvedic times. Labour and production, and leisure and war are two different nationalist strategies of people.

Nations do not become nations just because they have borders with an army to protect these. Nations become nations because there are people, who produce goods and commodities and distribute them for a better life for the people. Nations are also not known for their militaristic heroes but are known for great philosophers, coming from that nation, who spread positive thought not just in that nation but across the world.

The world knows and respects India as the land of the Buddha. Buddha evolved values that the whole world respects because they are based on karuna, daya and samantha (compassion, kindness). These are not the values demonstrated by the retired military men when they took out a procession against Kanhaiya and the other students in JNU. For them violence was the solution, killing the ‘enemy’ as it were, external and internal. No nation in the world survives with these values. That is the reason why they are not revered in the world.

Rohith as the follower of Buddha receives positive attention as against the ABVP that projects a militaristic face. Even assuming someone is adharmic ( all Dalit bahujans in Hindu thought were/are adharmics) killing such a person is no great divine virtue. The divine virtue lies in reforming such persons or groups and castes as Buddha did. But there is no divine virtue in violent methods. If the ruling BJP wants to follow those value of nationalism it is up to them. But the world does not respect those values. Rohith has rightly chosen the heritage of positive divine and scientific heritage of Buddha and Ambedkar. The ABVP worked to drive him to death, though he chose the path of Socrates to die for the future of this nation and sustenance of democracy here. He died for all of us.

Arun Jaitley, sadly calls him a Maoist. Jaitley does not seem to know that a Maoist does not believe in self suffering like Socrates. Jaitley’s Hindutva believes in violence and Maoists believe in counter violence. Buddha and Ambedkar opposed both and Rohith believed in both. Jaitley having studied in a college run by Christian missionaries, sadly did not even understand the greatness of a dead Dalit youth’s philosophical values. Those supporting violence do not understand the value of sacrifice. Jaitley’s ideological ally killed Gandhi who was a preacher of non-violence, and now his government has got rid of Rohith who was just doing scientific research with passion.

Rohith in his letter to Appa Rao, the then V.C of his university said “ I request your highness to make preparations for the facility ‘Euthanasia’ for students like me’’.

Rohith was a first generation Dalit, who dreamt of becoming a science writer like Carl Sagan, but was forced to get into Euthanasia, because of living in a torturous environment created within the university. He became the first Socrates of India, who let the world know that the rulers in his times were worse opponents of knowledge than even the Greek rulers of Socrates time. A nation cannot prosper with muscle men and drill masters in khaki shorts.

Rohith believed in knowledge based and labour centred nationalism. He wanted his mother Radhika, to be rewarded for her life time labour and to use his education for the abolition of caste, inequality. He also wanted a just distribution of all resources. Rohith the dead hero of India and Kanhaiya Kumar the living hero, against whom there is a Hindutva patwa of 11 lakh rupees, both believe in knowledge centred nationalism. Hindutva nationalism wants to sustain the inequalities, oppression, casteism and talibanism within the nation and wants universities to basically produce military men and women to crush rebellions from within and protect the borders from without.

According to them Jawaharlal Nehru University, Hyderabad Central University should be forced to stop producing persons of knowledge and lower standards to ensure that intellectuals are not produced from these academic institutions.

If Jaitley’s military nationalism wants no student political activism on the campuses he should first dismantle his own ABVP. The nation knows that the ABVP works only to build temples on the campuses and works as the intelligence of the parent organisations to see whether the students are eating beef or not in the cafeterias.

Though I do not agree with the Left on many issues the contribution of their student activism to the growth of global knowledge is enormous. The knowledge about this very nation’s slavery, feudalism, semi-feudalism and capitalism and how to change these structures came from them. Without left-liberal knowledge, democracy and welfarism would not have survived in India. The protection of the nation from capitalist globalization and its subtle forms of exploitation comes from the intellectuals but not from Jaitley’s military men. Can Arun Jaitley inform the nation how many campus discussion forums on the issues of equality of sections of Indians were organized by the ABVP since his own student days? How many lectures they organized on caste inequalities, untouchability, abolition of child labour; abolition of man-woman inequalities? How many rallies they organized to increase the wages of unorganised labour force? What are the groundbreaking theoretical propositions that ABVP activists from his days to the present, put before the nation? If the universities do not find solutions to these things, if not Pakistan some other nation will occupy India, and rule over it.

For the nation’s sake Mr Jaitley stop parading long moustached army men on the campuses—leave the intellectuals of the world alone.

(This is an Opinion piece)