The proposal of renaming Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) as Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose University by Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Subramanian Swamy has sparked debate over social media. Swami has often pitched for ‘cleansing’ of the prestigious JNU. The recent announcement of JNU’s central library to be re-named after Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar gave hopes to change the name of the university. However, this will not be an easy task for the ruling BJP to do so.
Replying to Swamy’s controversial demand, Supreme Court lawyer Adv. Virag Gupta said, “The demand for renaming JNU as Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose may be politically motivated. However, changing name of an institute would not change the character of the installation. Earlier, we have seen that certain cities names changed because of the demand from certain sections of the society. However, we are not seeing any difference after that. Similarly, Aurangzeb Road in New Delhi changed to Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam Road because the former was religious fanatic; nevertheless we are not seeing any changes in it.
Mr. Gupta further stated that the Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru was the first PM and many institutions are on his name. “If name of the JNU changed, then demands for more such changes will arise and it will create more political sensation and thus obstruct the education and development of the country. It may also go against the agenda of PM Modi who always talks about good governance and high development,” added Gupta.
Switching the name will also attract financial burden on government to republish all the documents, which in the present scenario is unproductive. “JNU has international reputation, with the new name it may take time to get recognition to the varsity,” apex court lawyer explained.
The plea that Nehru wasn’t sufficiently educated to get a university to his name is not tenable as a lesser educated person is currently heading the HRD Ministry. “Instead of changing the name, efforts should be made to evoke patriotism and feeling of national integrity through better education and social harmony. This is not the first time, BJP leaders had demanded to name changing of the university,” Mr. Gupta reminded us.
Earlier this year, one of the BJP’s MP suggested that the JNU should be shut down for four months after the final examinations in May for “fumigating” the hostels by rejecting students who do not swear allegiance to the Indian Constitution. Swamy had also suggested in his demand that those students who have not passed out their bachelors’ courses from this university and those who have not received their masters’ degrees in three years should be expelled from the varsity.
When AV spoke some other eminent personalities over the issue, the newspaper received mixed reaction from the society. Mr. Shahid Akhtar, a political activist, termed the whole saga of renaming as a conspiracy and said, “JNU is not an institution but it’s a brand which promotes liberal, cultural and plural values. Thus, it’s not only a matter of renaming a university, it’s a deep conspiracy. And under the garb of changing the name, they are trying to change the whole ethos of this premier university.”
When AV approached to Mr. Wasim Khan Baloch, a Political Analyst, he said “This is sheer politics, BJP is applying its agenda of ‘Congress Mukth Bharat’ but how will they erase the contribution made by Congress leaders like Jawaharlal Nehru by changing names of institutions or roads”
However, there are some who are against naming any institute by the famous personalities. In their opinion, there is no need to give names to any educational institution after political leaders. Manoj Vijay Kulkarni, a business consultant opined, “Don’t use anybody’s name for any institution. Why can’t we recognize the things with its locations itself? At Dadar, we have Mahatma Gandhi Swimming Pool and Veer Savarkar Vegetable Market. Ironically, swimming pool should be named after Savarkar, because he swam away while vegetable market should be named after Mahatama Gandhi, who in his whole life propagated vegetarian lifestyle.”
Mr. Sumit Kashyap has very different opinion on the whole issue. A professional by work and staunched Congress supporter, Kashyap said, “Since, RSS has no contribution in building India; Modiji is trying hard to acquire some leader from other parties. He has special vendetta against Nehru – Gandhi family. So, he is trying to erase their name but even in replacement they are taking former Congress president’s name only. It only shows, RSS don’t even have one face that can be presented in public. These things expose RSS’ mentality. It’s shameful at every level.”
Dhruv Pandit, a student said, “If I have to say in short, then this shows the insecurity of BJP. They are scared of Nehru even today. They are shaken with the Nehru-Gandhi existence. Anyway, they will never succeed in changing the name. Let Swamy talk about his fantasies. BJP has even tried to omit the chapter on Nehru from the schools’ books in Rajasthan.”
Suresh Nakhua, a BJP’s IT cell member supports his party’s MP’s proposal and said “It is indeed a good decision. It’s not necessary that all institutions, roads, infra projects should be named after one family. There are many freedom fighters who have contributed to our nation’s freedom struggle. I go with this proposal because people who fought for the country other than one family have been ignored for more than six decades of Congress’ misrule. It’s high time; those heroes should be given respect.”
Syed Zafar Andrabi, journalist from Jammu & Kashmir said, “Such decisions are never in the interest of the nation. Tomorrow, they will suggest to change the country’s name and such steps would create division in the country and others will personify us as a radical nation.”
Krishna Hegde, a former Congress MLA from Vile Parle said, “Changing the names of installations with former prime ministers, freedom fighters and distinguished personalities should not be done because it sends a wrong message across the country. Netaji is a revered leader and freedom fighter. Government should name an upcoming prominent scheme and policy in his honour.”