Critique on Kanhaiya Kumar’s speech

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Kanhaiya Kumar, the former president of Jawaharlal Nehru University Students’ Federation and chief of All India Student Federation, delivered a galvanizing and provocative speech on March 4, 2016 at Jawaharlal Nehru University campus after getting free from jail on March 2, 2016. The harangue was casted live on media on primetime and hence people in India turned their ears to it. The swirling rigmarole starts a week before the apprehension of Kanhaiya Kumar when group of Jawaharlal Nehru University students organized an event to memorialize the anniversary of Afzal Guru, a terrorist convict executed back in 2001 who avowed his indulgence in the assault on India’s parliament. The proceedings were interrupted by the members of ABVP, an All India student organization associated with the Bharatiya Janata Party of Prime Minister Narendar Modi, when they accused some attendees in the conglomeration to be raising antinational slogans censuring India and thus registered a complaint against them in the police. On the basis of filed case, police arrested Kanhaiya Kumar. In the court, speaking in favor of his guiltlessness and decency, he enunciated, ‘‘I dissociate myself from the slogans that were shouted during the event.” (Time). On March 2, 2016, he was released on bail as there was no evidence proving that he was blameworthy. The tone of the representative of JNU student federation is sarcastic and sweet undertones and the structure is abrupt, loosely bounded and focused but the rhetorical devices used are awesome that complement with each other.

In his speech, he states that the government of India has come to rule by shouting revolutionary but false slogans such as  Satyamev Jayate [truth will prevail], lal salaam[hail revolution] etc. Social problems such as corruption, injustice and hunger still prevail in our society. Many social media channels assist the government in distracting people from their prime problems by enmeshing their concentration in versatile agenda. On contrary, JNU has always stood against social ills and has tried to eliminate them. The student federation of JNU aspires to eradicate all problems stated above and is grateful to those who are buttressing us in this matter.

The structure is confusing which is full of convoluted and intricate sentences. Paragraph is just like a spiral helix which does nothing except confusing the reader. Kanhaiyas speech consists of different paragraphs having great differences in size and there is no flow in ideas as he switches abruptly from one topic to other. Kanhaiya begins with an adequate  introduction, thanking people who are standing with JNU and have demanded justice for the death of Rohit Vemula. This is because the beginning of speech is formal and free of casual and taunting language. After a wonderful introduction, Rohit Vehmula comes directly to one of his main point criticizing the government and television channels. After that the author starts praising JNU that it does not consider ABVP [Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad] its enemy, but an opposition. In fact, the author does not link the first paragraph with the second paragraph in which he was talking about the government and media channels. Next three paragraphs are much smaller in length as compared to the upper huge paragraph. In addition to that the author repeats his point about thrice in these three paragraphs that JNU firmly believes in constitution. The next paragraph is again bigger in size as compared to the last one and in this paragraph he is again aggressive and this time makes the judicial commission the target of his fire. The next talk is pointless and loosely focused as it states the attitude of people on the railway station as they barter with the innocent ones by selling them the lucky rings and persuade them to but those as they will be a source of good omen in future if they wear them. The representative of JNU student federation is narcissistic, self obsessed and persuasive in tone while pointing on the policies of the government to be fulfilled. In short, the JNU representative is itself not sure about what to say but instead tells irrespective life stories which are loosely bounded and focused while criticizing the government and opposition parties and claiming to eradicate all the problems of the country.




Kanhaiya Kumar has employed a number of rhetorical devices and different techniques in the speech in order to make it more logical and easily apprehensible. In addition to that, he has made use of many allusions to make the speech more effective. For instance, he refers to the names of famous historical personalities such as Hitler, Stalin and Khrushchev when he talks about the brutalism. Also, he has made adequate use of anaphora to encourage, inspire and motivate the people and to appeal to the emotions of the audience. For instance, at the end of speech he says, ‘‘The struggle that was launched with the Occupy UGC movement, the struggle that Rohith Vehmula waged, and the struggle that you and so many peace-loving and progressive people in the country have launched – that struggle we shall wage and win.” In order to make his speech more interesting and convincing, he makes use of analogy. One of such examples can be seen when the author was in jail and he was given two bowls. One was red colored and the other was blue colored. He compares the blue bowl with the India and the red one with the socialism. Use of diction can also be seen in the speech of kanhaiya as he expresses his feelings about ABVP. The narrator says that he does not consider ABVP his ‘enemy’, rather he takes it as an ‘opposition’. In fact, it makes vivid that he has no abhorrence for anything. In order to make his speech more humorous, author has also employed meiosis when he talks about the salary of the soldiers and incentives given along with it. Author says that the soldiers are given an allowance of Rs 110 only. He further elaborates that with this amount, one cannot even buy the undergarments, but this amount is not too less to buy even an undergarment. One can easily buy undergarment with this amount .Further, In order to convince and grab the attention of audience, author has also asked rhetorical questions. Such an example can be found when he talks about JNU and says that it has always spoken up when the government has tried to oppress the people of the country. The he asks the audience,” Who speaks out against this? JNU, who else? ” Another such example can easily be seen when he shares his thought about the people who are dying within the country. Kanhaiya Kumar asks an emotional question from the audience, ‘‘Who will take responsibility for those who are dying?” At another point he talks about the huge fees of universities for Ph.D. He says that my family is living on just Rs 3000. There after he asks the audience a sentimental question himself, ‘‘would he be able to continue his education.” In order to make the speech more logical and intellectually convincing, the orator has also narrated anecdotes from his life. First of all, the author proves his truthfulness and falseness of ABVP by narrating his conversation with the police officer in the jail in which narrator talks about  uprooting of social illnesses such as injustice, less pay, and casteism from the society and the false slogans being shouted by the ABVP. Besides that, he moves the audience emotionally when narrating a discourse of his mother in which she says that the people just portray their pangs: those who understand, weep, and those who do not, laugh. In addition to all these, Kanhaiya has also used juxtaposition in his speech when he talks about the problems of the country. He says that in the parliament, the ‘call attention motion’ is tabled but outside the country they revert to ‘distract attention motion’ so that problems can be avoided.

The overall tone of this speech is sarcastic and persuasive but sometimes disrupted and confuses the reader because of the convoluted sentences. The formal tone of the speaker clearly states the thankfulness for the students and academians along with the people around the globe for supporting Jawaharlal Nehru University. The sarcastic thanks for the parliamentarians who opt to decide better decisions along with the policeman and the media channels who covered their event during the prime time was inevitable. The ABVP were not considered as the enemies but they were regarded as the opposition just because the representative of the party consider themselves as democratic so the speaker confronts them with his sweet undertone.  The irony tone of the JNU student federation didn’t even want to witch-hunt on ABVP because they didn’t even consider them worthy of this.  Determinism is clearly visible in the tone of JNU student federation. The JNU’s representative strikes on the argument with the prime minister on the account of slogan, ‘Satyamev Jayate [truth will prevail]’ which represents the voice of the country and stated to use this slogan as a countryman. The Government spots on the opposition by threatening them with the investigation of cyber cell department. JNU has always taken stand against the informal actions of the government with the civil people. The BJP representative directs others to check the murders on the borders of the India but in counter point the JNU diverts the logic by indulging the murders of the farmers and common layman that die for the country. The aggressive tone of JNU student federation shows that the government should refrain from taking actions again them. After getting imprisoned the representative of JNU student federation had a conversation with the policeman who questioned him on his slogan of ‘Lal Salam’. He replied formally stating the true difference between them and ABVP. The coverage of media at the prime time was considered a game by JNU because their point was that the media is diverting attention of the people from the current performances of the government.

The overall tone of the speech is taunting and sarcastic. If the speaker of JNU had been more logical and focused on the reality grounds, the scenario must have been different. Moreover, if he had presented accurate facts and figures with logical proves instead of pointing out the previous problems without telling the solutions, he would have been succeeded in persuading people with his talks. If the speech was well structured with all the paragraphs streamed in a flow instead of wavering it would easily be understandable by a common countryman. The rhetorical devises were perfect but they could not cope up with the arguments and critics of his speech.




Feature Photo Credits: Wikipedia

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