7 reasons student politics should be banned in India

How many Indian colleges make it to the list of Top 100 world class education institutions?

 |  5-minute read |   19-01-2016
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The recent death of Hyderabad University student Rohith Vemula was extremely tragic. His suicide letter was poignant, deep and thought-provoking. In it, he showed glimpses of being the writer that he aspired to be and it is sad that such a future for him will never be.

This also brings us to a larger question of why all our students face so much of political pressure in the first place instead of focusing on education, actual philosophical debate, their dreams and their unfolding futures.

Here's a case for banning student politics altogether:

1. Colleges have become proxy battlefields for the CPM-Congress-BJP

Who is actually doing the fighting? Is it the students themselves or is it the political parties who use the students as their pawns to wage proxy wars? Nationally, the two largest parties are the BJP and the Congress. They have the ABVP (Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad) and NSUI (National Students Union of India) respectively.

Also read: Rohith Vemula’s suicide was a protest

The CPI(M) may be on the decline but its SFI (Student Federation of India) is probably still the most powerful students' union. So basically, it is a battle between these three elephants and expectedly it is the grass (the students) that always gets trampled upon.

Students should always be focusing on their rights but instead, they are manipulated by politicians of all parties and fight the fights of their political masters. Indian politics is a dirty reality. Do we want this dirt to pile up in our haloed educational institutions?

2. Students are forced to adopt "identity politics"

The youth is a free bird and can choose what it wants to be. Students are supposed to be a clean slate and take whatever path they fancy. Sometimes this choice is not made even after the completion of the education process. It's a journey to discover who you really are.

Also read: Rohith's suicide was not due to 'personal problems', read his letter to V-C

However, when you become part of a student body you are immediately straightjacketed. You are forced to adopt an identity you may not be comfortable with. After that, you will be defined by that label. It will guide your actions and ideology. That is extremely unhealthy for an impressionable developing mind.

3. Right not to practise politics lost in the pressure

What about the right not to practise politics? Most students want to stay apolitical but they find it difficult to do so and they are sucked into politics whether they like it or not. They find politicking students more powerful.

They may be disturbed by all the agitations around them but they are absolutely powerless. The silent majority of students who just want to focus on their education and career are hijacked by the political minority who call the shots.

It's great for few of the students (less than one per cent) ending up as career politicians. But what about the remaining 99 per cent who get a raw deal?

4. Is there any shortage of pressure on students nowadays?

Student politics in the 1970s was different. Life was more slow-paced and leisurely. Students could still find time for both politics and studies. In 2016, that has radically changed. Academic pressure is more. The pressure of finding jobs can be crushing. Competition is tough. It's the intense 24X7 internet age.

Even without politics, the load can be back-breaking. Add politicians with their agendas bringing in their agitations and you really have an unmanageable pressure cooker situation. Students must be left free to just focus on their studies and careers with absolutely no other distractions.

5. Leads to violence which is brushed under the carpet

In most education institutions in the world, violence is discouraged and those indulging it are immediately thrown out. That is not the case in India. If you indulge in violence on the goading of your political masters, you know they will save you when you are in trouble.

This, in effect, gives a free licence to indulge in violence. As compared to education institutions in the West, we have far more cases of vandalism, deaths and general indiscipline. We cannot afford that.

6. Does not really encourage ideological debate

Schools and colleges are supposed to be fertile grounds of debate where every old and new idea is discussed threadbare and with passion. Many great people are thankful for the years they spent as students that shaped them intellectually.

When political parties come into the picture, it just becomes a "tu tu main main" (quarrelsome) kind of discourse. Just look at the TV news channel debates where all the politicians yell at each other throughout the programme without any idea being discussed.

Do we really want our colleges to be an offline version of such a newshour? The Communist SFI and right-wing ABVP are sworn enemies and can never have a debate over anything. It's just one confrontation after another, non-stop. It achieves nothing.

7. Leads to tremendous inefficiency

College heads are scared to act owing to political interference. Professors are wary of doing anything radically different and will take the beaten path. Agitations overshadow studies. Man hours are lost as a result of umpteen strikes, debates and confrontations.

Our educational institutions have become extremely inefficient owing to the type of student politics that is practised. How many Indian colleges make it to the list of the Top 100 world class education institutions? Very few! While there are many reasons for this, student politics is one of them. It's time to end it. Now!

Writer

Sunil Rajguru Sunil Rajguru @sunilrajguru

The author is a Bengaluru-based journalist and blogger.

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