Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Friday alleged that independent thinking and free expression in Indian universities were under threat in the present situation.
He said the recent attempts to interfere with free expression of the student community in Hyderabad Central University and Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) were of particular concern and termed the police crackdown as “inimical to learning” and “undemocratic”.
“Regrettably, independent thinking and free expression in Indian universities are now under threat. Attempts to suppress peaceful dissent are not only inimical to learning but also undemocratic,” Singh said while speaking at the bicentenary celebration of Presidency University in Kolkata.
“True nationalism is found where students, citizens, are encouraged to think and speak freely where dissents are encouraged and not suppressed. It is only by constructive engagements. We can truly build a stronger, more cohesive and sustaining democracy in our country,” he added.
Indicating the rise of rightwing groups across the globe, Singh said ““We are witnessing around the world a rise of nationalist tendencies, populism and hatred against backward classes and minorities in disregarding reason and rationality …..but these tendencies could be extremely destructive.”
“We must protect India from this trend and universities have a vital role in this regard,” Singh further added.