NEW DELHI: Debating in JNU is like an "anti-ageing treatment" as the institution was set up decades back with an idea of producing students who can question the established truth, noted Historian Harbans Mukhia today said.
"Debating in JNU is like an anti-ageing treatment as the institution was set up decades back with an idea of producing students who can question the established truth. After teaching history for 44 years, when I went to take my last lecture I prepared for three hours. That is the intensity of questions in JNU students that you just can't go unprepared," Mukhia said while addressing the students at the varsity.
He along with Romila Thapar took a lecture on "History and Nationalism: Then and now" which was 14th in the "nationalism teaching" series which are being conducted at JNU which is caught in a row over the February 9 event.
The classes are being held at the varsity's administration block which has been venue of the protest ever since students union President Kanhaiya Kumar was arrested in a sedition case over the event.
"Questioning someone's idea of nationalism, doesn't make you anti-national, questioning someone's view on patriotism doesn't make you anti-patriot," he said.
"Nationalism is still a debatable concept even in advanced nations of the world. It is not a settled concept and it is our duty to question it," he added.
Warning against the habit to "essentialise" things, Mukhia said, "Whenever we talk of Kanhaiya, we tend to essentialise him as a Hindu boy above being anything else. Umar Khalid has been declaring from house tops that he is an atheist but we connect every dot with him being a Muslim because of his name."
"When allegations were being made that Khalid had links with Jaish-e-Mohammad, his sister had clarified that he had no links even with Mohammad forget being with Jaish-e-Mohammad. But this is how we tend to essentialise everything in the society," he added.
Kanhaiya Kumar and Umar Khalid are JNU students who, along with four others, have been booked in a sedition case over an event against hanging of Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru during which anti-national slogans were allegedly raised. more