Students, Politics and Educational Institutions

Starting with Hyderabad University, then Jawaharlal University (JNU), followed by Jadhavpur University in Bengal and now NIIT in Srinagar, there appears to be a pattern in the way trouble is brewing in some of the nation’s premier educational institutions. One will have to be naive to assume that it is only a student centric problem – young blood on the boil. Without a doubt there is more to these incidents than what meets the eye. There appears to be a deliberate attempt to vitiate the country’s internal environment, to make the government of the day appear communal and anti poor. One cannot rule out a larger design in the whole issue that aims to prevent the inflow of foreign investment in the country which is essential to kick start its march towards a double digit growth. Without a doubt there are vested interests, both internal and external, that do not want to see the nation become stronger and be counted among the top economies of the world. The Indian media, mostly foreign owned, is playing its part in this vicious anti-national crusade, at times by design and sometimes in their ever increasing appetite for better TRP ratings. There are rumours of foreign hand behind these machinations. While this may be true but it is an axiomatic truth that no foreign effort can succeed unless it finds some effective colluding local partners. It is no brainer to understand that no government of the day would fall in that trap and therefore such partners, political or otherwise, have to be from outside the government.

Late Rohit Vemula, a student from Hyderabad, is being made into a national icon despite his obvious lack of any credentials for the same. The fact that he was weak in spirit and mind is obvious since a simple expulsion from the university hostel drove him to suicide. Now who would want a national icon with that kind of mental makeup? Kanhaiya Kumar, a research scholar at JNU, is being pushed to centre stage of national politics by some politicians who are in reality exploiting him for their own selfish agendas. His credentials are as dubious as was the weather forecast by Indian meteorological department till a few years ago. Instead of castigating him for his anti-national behaviour and beliefs, his mentors are singing his paeans and positioning him as the future of India. Is there any doubt what the future of India will be if the likes of Kanhaiya Kumar are at the helm? Is it not a matter of worry for the nation when educated young minds at Jadhavpur University raise slogans in support and praise of hard core terrorists who attacked the Indian parliament? There is no doubt that the incident in NIIT at Srinagar was fallout of the incidents that took place in other universities in the recent past. Given the valley politics and anti-national sentiment in the valley, is it any wonder that non-Kashmiri students became the targets while the local youth went scot-free? It is difficult to accept that all these incidents were mere frustrations of the youth. The active support and encouragement proffered by various political leaders, social activists and social organisations does give grounds to think that it is more than just student unrest.

The mentors of these misguided youth, who include professors, social activists and politicians, justify these protests as freedom of speech and liberated thinking of young minds. Frankly it is these mentors who need to be given a few lessons in what is good for the nation and what is not. They also need to understand that freedom of speech is a right that has to be exercised with lot of responsibility, both towards the nation and the society as a whole. No one can claim any right if one is unwilling to shoulder the responsibilities that go with it. Unfortunately, just like their wards, most of these mentors too are living off the nation and yet support anti national behaviour of their students. It is no secret that some of them thrive by lending active support to the ‘India Bashing’ brigade, at times at the behest of their benefactors who could even be from across the borders of the nation . This may sound harsh but is absolutely true. The recent revelations on some of the NGO organisations and statements of some the out of work Congress politicians in Pakistan leave no doubts in this regard.

Delhi_protests-students,_Raisina_Hill

Take the case of JNU which has over 600 professors on its rolls who are all drawing fat salaries apart from enjoying campus life that is possibly the envy of most citizens of Delhi. One really wonders what they do on a daily basis in the university where a large percentage of students are just using the university premises as a parking lot till they can firm up their future plans. Students like Kanhaiya Kumar have already spent nearly six years in the university for their Ph. D. Programme which is actually designed for only three years. It would not surprise anyone if he went on to stay in the campus for many more years without making any effort to complete his education. Surely somewhere his mentor at JNU needs to be hauled up too and taken to task for wasting national resources which could be better utilised for some more deserving candidates. But then JNU is a class act in itself that seems to be flourishing without delivering any tangible benefits to the nation. In short universities like JNU are institutional parasites who thrive on bleeding the nation. A quick look at the alumni of this highly acclaimed institution since 1969 will prove this point beyond doubt. JNU has very little to boast of when it comes to deliverables in academic excellence or contribution to development of the nation in last over 47 years of its existence. On the flip side JNU has had a history of agitations and protests, at times even anti-national in character, by students who are backed by various political parties, renowned social activists and at times their professors who are more concerned in propagating their own misguided agenda through student activism rather than what is good for the nation.

There are a lot of allegations flying around that the current government is trying to ‘saffronise’ educational institutions by various means. Frankly this is more political rhetoric than a reality. The more important point here is that such institutions have not delivered in the past many decades and therefore there is an imperative need to change the way these institutions work. The fact that there is a need for reforms can hardly be questioned by any well meaning Indian. Therefore those who were in power for so many years but turned a blind eye to what was going on for decades in such purportedly high class institutions have neither any moral nor any other right to question any changes that are brought about. Such questioning should be left to only those who have the interests of the nation and budding youth of the country in mind and have no personal axes to grind. Any changes that may be brought about will invariably be viewed with suspicion since they will upset the apple cart of the current stake holders. It is an accepted fact that an organisation must reinvent itself from time to time to remain vibrant and relevant with changing times if it wants to continue in its quest towards excellence. Unfortunately many of nation’s premier educational institutions have failed in this regard and none more than JNU.

Finally it is time to start a debate on whether our educational institutions should be kept free from politics and instead asked to focus on their core agenda of education. Frankly there can be no two opinions on this. It will be heartening to see if the so called intellectuals and social thinkers of our country lend their might to keep our colleges and universities away from the clutches of politicians, their parties and selfish social activists. Institutional administrators need to play a major role in our quest to keep politics away from the campuses and instead push the students towards scholarly achievements. It is imperative that young minds be prepared intellectually and equipped with proper understanding of the nation’s social and developmental needs before they start exercising their right to freedom of speech. Such development can only come from good education that is imparted in an environment that is not coloured by any political agenda or out of date thinking of vested interests. Once the youth is suitably equipped, set him free and allow him his rights of freedom of speech as permitted by the constitution. Chances are that he will then ask the right questions that will come from an informed individual and not what people like Kanhaiya Kumar are asking today at the behest of their mentors of dubious distinctions.

It may be prudent to recall the words of our late President Dr Abdul Kalam Azad on what learning and education is all about. In his view “when learning is purposeful – creativity blossoms, when creativity blossoms – thinking emanates, when thinking emanates – knowledge is fully lit and when knowledge is lit – economy flourishes”. Is there any doubt that if a nation’s economy flourishes then its citizens too will flourish?  And if citizens flourish, it invariably ensures a better society where strife and dissatisfaction are pushed to the background. Most of our economists and nation’s well wishers invariably believe that one sure way of overcoming most of our social and other problems is to continually create jobs so that the youth in particular is gainfully employed. If that has to happen then economy has to flourish and the start point for an economy to flourish is to ensure purposeful learning in our educational institutions. To achieve purposeful learning our institutions have to focus on learning and keep politics, politicians and pseudo social thinkers out of their campuses.

Saroj Chadha, an engineering professional, is a successful entrepreneur. Having retired from the Indian Army after having served for over 23 years, he has also been a consultant for leading Indian and Multinational electrical companies. He lives in New Delhi.

2 Comments

  • Mr Marla, the very fact that you start your comments by playing the poor card shows your bias. By what stretch of imagination is Kanhaiya poor today when he is getting a stipend of about Rs 35,000 each month for many years apart from flying to various destinations whose bills are footed by his well wishers. This is more than the salary of a professional with a few years service while Kanhaiya has not even worked for day. I think you missed the point since no where have I stated that youth’s voice has to be snubbed. All I have said is that they must first be prepared through learning and then left free to question and during learning process politics should be kept away. You may have a different opinion on this, it is fine and you are welcome to it. But please stop playing the poor and Dalit or OBC cards for some one who today is privileged to be studying in best possible institution of the nation and being paid for same. Nation has had enough of it as on date. Make people like Kanhaiya more responsible to themselves, their family, society and above all the nation. Sadly Kanhaiya has been found wanting in all these except when it comes to looking after himself. His family back home is still wallowing in poverty – and Kanhaiya is already nearly 30 year old. When will he look after them? If he cannot look after his family while he himself enjoys a good life style in heart of Delhi at government expense, then he must focus for what he is being paid for. Once he is on his own he can support Afzal Guru or any one he likes.

  • What utter bull! Saroj Chadha, I’m new here and will probably never come back. But for peep’s sake, have the little sense to stop being such a Bhakt and understand that Free speech was sabotaged here. Now, you may be like “Speech that says the nation should be torn apart?!”. To that, my reply, is a resounding Yes! They’re just words. And, you insecurity to it just shows how worried, fearful and insecure you’re about the country and the atrocious occupation of Kashmir. Speech can’t kill, learn to live with it. It’s the price for a Free society, coz in a Free world, nobody says things you always like. If they do, it’s not a free nation. Good day to you and wish you wisdom!

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