Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday told the students of Jawaharlal Nehru University that ideologies must always be in the country’s interest. He made the remark while unveiling spiritual leader Vivekananda’s statue on campus.
The prime minister, however, said that he did not want young people to accept “status quos” without debating.
“Our ideologies should always stand in the nation’s interests,” Modi said during his virtual address. “During the Independence struggle and even the Emergency, the country saw the same solidarity.”
Modi went on to elaborate how people adhering to differing ideologies came together during the freedom struggle. “When people joined Mahatma Gandhi, they didn’t leave their ideologies,” he was quoted as saying by Hindustan Times. “I have seen Emergency days. There were so many people from various political beliefs – from Congress, from RSS [Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh]. But we were all united by a common cause of national interest.”
He added: “I want the youth of India to never accept any status quos ever without questioning. Debate. Have a healthy conversation. Discuss. And then reach a conclusion. Swamiji never agreed to status quos ever.”
Modi told the students that it was also wrong to compromise their ideology for selfishness. “Now this kind of opportunism does not succeed,” he said. “We are also seeing this in everyday life. We have to keep healthy dialogue alive in democracy away from opportunism.”
The prime minister added that he hoped Vivekananda’s statue will inspire the students. “I wish that this statue of Swamiji in JNU inspires everyone, filled with energy,” he said. “This statue should give courage, courage, which Swami Vivekananda wanted to see in every person. This statue should teach compassion, teach compassion, which is the mainstay of Swamiji’s philosophy.”
JNU is one of the most politically-active universities in the country. It has been embroiled in a controversy since 2016, with the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party questioning the morality of the students and their education. Protests against the hanging of 2001 Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru and the attack on the university students during the protests in January against the Citizenship Amendment Act have become a frequent topics of debate.