3 Feb, 2016
By Peter Ronald Desouza
No substantive discussion in a university can be anti-national as long as protocols of discussion are maintained. Dissent must be heard. No one would want to be called anti-national for it brings in its wake the primordial passions of hate and anger onto oneself. It produces self and social censorship. This is what Rohith experienced. This is what his letter tells us. It produces McCarthyism, the worst period of American intellectual life. Societies that do not confront such processes of censorship are on the slippery slope of McCarthyism. India is on such a slope.
In addition to the fear of censorship must be debated the question of patriotism. I believe Rohith was a patriot because he held a mirror to society, because he reminded society of its promise of assuring the dignity of the individual. He did this not only as a Dalit scholar. He did this as an intellectual. This is the highest obligation of any intellectual: to tell the nation what is right. This is what Tagore meant when he wrote right with a capital ‘R’. It is in fact a casteist mind that sees Rohith’s actions as casteist.