The narrative that a large section of media and the opposition have tried to build using the protests in JNU campus was obvious. ‘Student community stood up to the establishment’, ‘protesting students are the hope for this country’ these kinds of arguments were common in media analysis and in statements of political leaders belonging to the opposition. They all chose to overlook the violence unleashed by some of the student unions in this process of narrative building. We have covered this phase in our earlier article Chronology: Violence at JNU.
Now, after all the noise over JNU protests has subsided, one fact emerging from JNU is destabilising the whole set of narrative built by a section of media and some politicians.
The pretext for the protests in JNU was said to be the decision of administration to raise the hostel fees. The whole fiasco started in the campus since some student leaders forcefully tried to stop the registration process of the university.
What is the end result now?
According to Vice Chancellor M Jagadeesh Kumar, 82 per cent of over 8,500 students at JNU have cleared their hostel dues for winter semester registration as on January 20, 2020. The remaining students are also expected to complete their registration process since the registration is still open with a late fee.
So, what does this establish?
That a majority of students want to pursue their education rather than subsuming themselves in a romantic idea of ‘student uprising against the establishment’, a concept that seems to be in existence only among some media persons and politicians.
It also tells us that the so-called heroes that media and the opposition created in the campuses like JNU have been unsuccessful in conveying their idea of ‘resistance’ to the students of even their own university. How can they become a representative of the ‘spirit of Indian students’?
In earlier instances, we have seen how such ‘heroes’ who gained unlimited media space were rejected by the people with a huge margin in democratic process.
The fact is that the real student power is spending its energy on new ideas and innovations as our article Slogans vs Solutions: Who Do You Think Reflect the True Spirit of Indian Students? explained. Even on issues like CAA, a large number of students across the nation have understood the humane approach of the amendment and stood behind it firmly. In both cases, since these students are really democratic and peaceful and not dramatic, media seems to have not given them as much coverage as JNU protests.
In any case, with over 80 percent of JNU students clearing their dues and registering themselves, it is safe to conclude that the unruly elements are just a handful in the campus and they never really represent the student voice.