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Tuesday, Jan 21, 2020 09:30 [IST]

Last Update: Tuesday, Jan 21, 2020 03:53 [IST]

Students and Politics in India

S.DASGUPTA/S.K.BASU

“Every student must prepare himself to face the problems and challenges in life. Politics and economics deal with these problems and nobody is fully educated without learning them” - Prime Minister Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru. In simple words, the term 'politics' can be defined as a study of the state and the government. Besides, it involves the study of political parties, political ideologies and Political Theory as propounded by distinguished political philosophers. Students are the future of a nation. Some will choose their own calling in life and others will become the politicians and govern the country in future. It is with their dedication, perseverance education, irrepressible zeal, creativity and talents that they will change the social fabric of India. As no student can progress in life without having a proper education, students must dedicate themselves to their academics and co-curricular activities and not waste their time in secondary pursuits.
Unfortunately, the students of our country, India have developed the tendency to get involved in student politics and on-campus and off-campus activism and politics at a very young age. Students often bunk classes to attend meetings, called by the student unions. They have been divided into different factions -Left Wing, Right Wing, Centre Left, Centre Right, Centre, etc. Due to the rapid penetration of politics in most of the higher education institutions they have become hotbeds of politics and centres of disturbances instead of remaining centres of excellence and temples of learning, thereby having a debilitating impact on the morale of the students. So, to avoid such destructive situations, many students are joining private universities or going abroad for the higher education. Ancient India had internationally acclaimed universities like Nalanda University, Taxila University, Vikramshila University where thousands of foreign students came to study. The British established the University of Calcutta, University of Bombay and University of Madras in 1857, which attracted many students from all sections of society. It was the Indian National Congress that sought to bring students under its wings and help them to play any pivotal role in the national movement. Students had a major role to play in the Non Cooperation Movement, Civil Disobedience Movement and the Quit India Movement. Many students sacrificed their careers and fought the British government in tandem with Indian leaders and ultimately India attained independence in 1947. Therefore, students had a vital contribution for the independence of India. For a long time the student involvement in politics was dormant. In the 1970s, AIADMK and DMK misused students to topple each other's governments.
The students were also used to topple Chimanbhai Patel Ministry in Gujarat, Abdul Ghaffoor ministry in Bihar and Ajay Mukherjee ministry in West Bengal. The Assam Gana Sangram Parishad (AGSP) was mainly led by students against the continuous infiltration of Bangladeshis in Assam, which wrecked havoc in North East India. In the 1970s and 1980s, there were many agitations in Osmania University led by the students after dispute between two groups of students, one of which was in favour of the Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister and the other one, which was in favour of the Vice Chancellor of the university. The violent 'HokKolorob' agitations at Jadavpur University in 2014, which witnessed the students blocking the streets of Kolkata and leading silent candle marches, which ultimately led to the sacking of the Vice Chancellor, was in fact supported by some political parties and was condemned by others.
The agitations of the students of the Film and Television Institute of India after the appointment of Gajendra Chauhan as the head of the institute, the raising of anti National slogans at Jawaharlal Nehru University and agitation of the SFI over the screening of a film 'Buddha in a Traffic Jam' by Vivek Agnihotri in the campus of Jadavpur University wherein the filmmaker himself was also manhandled are the recent examples of the pernicious impact of politics on higher education and how politicians manipulate the innocent students. Recent incidents at JNU, BHU and Jamia Millia Islamia are still fresh in mind. Many educators feel that students must not participate in active politics. Unscrupulous politicians manipulate students for the petty political gains, thus spoiling the career of many students. Student unions often force the students to engage in party politics that's not related to their academics at all. This means that the valuable time is lost and not perform well in academics. There is a difference between merely learning about politics and participating in it and this demarcation must not be forgotten. In schools, students discuss problems in the classroom but stay away from active politics. Similarly, politicians are not allowed to interfere in the working of the schools. This model has been successful in weaning students away from active politics. The active participation of teachers and parents is a prerequisite to accelerate the process.
Politicians must not interfere in the running of public or private educational institutions for political mileage. Dr S Radhakrishnan had emphasized on the autonomy of educational institutions, contending that it alone could create an ideal educational environment where all educational institutions would generate education which would be conducive for national development. All of us must unite to ensure separation of active politics from students at least till the completion of their education, failing which it would result in the digging of the grave of India's education system. It is said ,' Chatranang AdhyanamTapoh ', which means that study is above all , like meditation, before the students, who should always give predominance in the pursuit of studies. Still, they cannot remain blind to national problems and requirements, for which they should be conscious of national requirements and participate in the movement of national progress. The student community is a vital sector of the nation which should always move along the track to bring about national benefits and developments. The student community is an inseparable part of the nation. They should adhere to their studies but at the same time, associate with national and international issues.
It is important for students irrespective of political alignments and ideologies to realize that their negative actions may pay back in the same negative manner as they are currently perceiving life and politics. What if the best of the campuses in the country be rated as violent and over politicized by foreign universities, employment agencies, private and public sector industries and other important stakeholders? The rise of rampart lawlessness, hooliganism, vandalism, sloganing, strikes, counter strikes, violence, clashes and very deep animosity among fellow students representing various political thoughts and schools is directly and indirectly damaging the basic framework of friendship and fellowships forms the basic platform of university life. The great hatred for one another and the political jingoism is damaging the administrative as well as the highly essential academic environments of Indian universities. Our young student leaders resenting various political thoughts, schools, alignments need to think the provocation and damage they are causing to their own institutes by turning both legitimate and illegitimate actions into so called student movements. Students need to seriously think and find a way beyond their political convictions what they are setting as examples for youngsters and their juniors in the long run. Political parties of all colour need to think how they are damaging the students, campus life and peace and the age old institutions through brain washing in the name of ideology and democracy. In short this madness needs to stop and students need to focus on their principal duty as to study and prepare themselves for the future. Democracy certainly provides us the right to protest; but being irresponsible to chop off the same branch of the tree on which one is sitting is sheer failure of an individual as a citizen. Students have to take responsibility for their unacceptable actions towards facilitating campus violence in the name of politics. If they do not see the serious damage to which they are contributing today; the next generation of our young citizens will seriously suffer from the long term consequences without a doubt.

Sikkim at a Glance

  • Area: 7096 Sq Kms
  • Capital: Gangtok
  • Altitude: 5,840 ft
  • Population: 6.10 Lakhs
  • Topography: Hilly terrain elevation from 600 to over 28,509 ft above sea level
  • Climate:
  • Summer: Min- 13°C - Max 21°C
  • Winter: Min- 0.48°C - Max 13°C
  • Rainfall: 325 cms per annum
  • Language Spoken: Nepali, Bhutia, Lepcha, Tibetan, English, Hindi