Brief unrest in India. Students participated in the
Brief overview of Student unrest in India India is also a country with a long tradition of student activism.
The political demonstrations organized during the fight for independence saw the beginning of student unrest in India. Students participated in the independence struggle and thousands of students were arrested and put in jail because of their nationalist activities. There existed strong political student organizations on most Indian campuses representing not only the nationalists who were under the leadership of Gandhi, but also socialist, communist and communal elements.Until today, student organisations such as the All-India Sikh Students’ Federation in Punjab and the All Assam Students Union in Assam form the backbone of sub-national movements throughout India. The student community had high ideological consciousness and since a large number of the student population came from wealthy urban families, students had time for political activity. However, post-independence period saw the transformation of student political life and movement in many ways.
Before independence, the primary aim and purpose of the student movement was independence for India which had a large number of supporters from both the student community as well as major nationalist leaders of that time. After 1947, the goal of independence was achieved and many of the student organizations began to have differences over ideological politics. In addition, the nationalist leaders who had formerly lent their support to student activism withdrew their co-operation and changed their attitudes after they became government leaders.Even the educational authorities who had been neutral towards the student movement prior independence became negative in their attitudes and tried to keep any political organizations off the campuses. All these factors along with the weakening of a sense of community among the students led to the collapse of the pre-independence movement. The Indian campus began to take the nature of sporadic breaks and protests against local issues which were related to the increasing frustration of the students.
Beginning with the protest demonstrations by the law students of the Delhi University in 1966, student protests began to spread to other parts of the country- from Jammu and Kashmir in the north to the far down Southern state of Kerala, to U. P, Madhya Pradesh, West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh and others. Some students, reportedly Naxalites in West Bengal, went to the extent of wrecking the science laboratories, office records, books etc in various colleges and schools and universities. Some libraries, stocked with books on Mahatma Gandhi, were destroyed.Though students organized themselves around a number of issues, there is lack of an effective organized student movement. Some of the causes for the unrest are factors like fear of unemployment, generation gap, political interference, lack of moral values, lack of control of parents over their children, lack of leadership, conflict between the rural and the urban youth, influence of alien cultures on Indian youth, the defective and obsolete educational set-up and lack of amenities at the educational and cultural activities, the conflict between a desire for greater personal freedom and demands of a rigid society.
In some cases, the student unrest took the shape of violent agitations against all established authority causing widespread disturbances. Statistics collected on the occurrence of student unrests revealed that while the number of violent student agitations have grown, the proportion of cases among them attributable to grievances connected with academic life were less in number. The nature of student unrest in India shows that the problem of student unrest is not entirely an educational problem.It is clear that this phenomenon owes its existence not only to a defective educational system but also to other deeper factors as well which are connected to the wider social, political, economic and historical framework within the country. The student movements in India have played an important role in Indian political life and on the campus. They trained a generation of nationalist leaders and gave ideological sophistication to many who later went into politics.
The movement no longer plays this role, although the tradition of activism has not entirely disappeared, and may re-emerge if conditions in society seem favourable. In the case of India, the centrality of student movements when it comes to questions of youth unrest can be illustrated by a statement taken from a study sponsored by the Department of Youth Affairs of the Indian Ministry of Human Resource Development, in which Saraswathi (1988) states that “Youth unrest is taken to be student unrest … “. Causes for Youth Unrest: In India, youth revolts and students indiscipline are in reality overt expressions of the inner dissatisfaction of the younger generation at the manner in which the affairs of the country, and particularly their own future, is being handled or being jeopardised by the older generation.
They observe that the persons who have assumed this authority have done so on the basis of a political system devised by them, in which education has not been given the utmost importance.They also witness the unedifying manner in which these very persons-legislators and political executives-periodically attempt to ride rough-shod over the restraints imposed on them by the Constitution and the judgments of the Supreme Court. It has instilled on them a growing belief that nothing is sacrosanct in this country; no pledge, undertaking or promise-written or unwritten –is binding, if it thwarts one’s own desires, or stands in the way of one’s exercise of power in the way one wants it for obtaining something for oneself.In brief, there are no game wardens in the country-everyone may poach as he likes; his bag depending on his skill with his gun, and the number of hounds he is able to muster. The problem of youth unrest is a cultural, economic, sociological and educational problem which needs to be understood through an interdisciplinary approach. It is not new nor is it peculiar to India. Some are of the opinion that at the root of the problem of youth unrest is a conflict between the old and the young generations.
Inter-generational conflict is understood as difference, gap, distance or conflict of values between adult and adolescent generations.This conflict has existed from the earliest times of the emergence of life on earth. Generations are like organisms.
All history is a record of the conflict of generations. Every generation has its distinct purpose and destiny. With its ideals achieved, the utility of the new generation is gone. In every age and in every society youth have rebelled against the old. The old have always dominated over the young. But the youth wants to feel independent and throw off the yoke of tutelage.
Rebellion for him is a psychological necessity-a compensation for his past dependence.The elder generation is not prepared to easily concede his demand for the recognition of equality of generations. This makes the transition painful and provokes greater conflicts. The conflict of generations is basic, essential and eternal. It is based on a conflict of interests and values more fundamental than any other and cuts across and transcends all other differences of caste, class, sex, race, religion or nationality. It has become more visible in recent times as the society is developing as well as developed countries are moving today at a much faster pace than in the past.
The old look backwards and are bound to develop a vested interest in the status quo. However, the young look forward since they have heavy stakes in the future. Apart from inter-generational conflicts as the cause for youth unrest, some are also of the view that the causes of unrest among student youth in Indian universities is the existence of a defective educational system with its lack of emphasis on preparing and equipping students for economic pursuits, lack of sufficient and healthy contact between students and teachers, and exploiting and misleading of students by political parties.An unpublished study of 1200 cases undertaken by the Union Ministry of Home Affairs (The Hindustan Times, November 16, 1966) showed that fifty percent of the students participating in agitations were dissatisfied with their teachers or educational institutions while the remaining fifty percent participated at the instance of party political parties. Young students enter the higher educational institutions with aspirations, looking forward to sound training and to make an appraisal of their own capacities and of the dauntingly complex world.
Initially the students are enthusiastic but their enthusiasm misfires because of lopsided education, which instead of catering for the ‘whole-man’ caters only for the intellectual segment and that too very insufficiently. In this too, the students are not taught to respond to a world larger than themselves and to recognize worthwhile causes. The non-cognitive aspects of his individual personality-his practical aptitudes, his emotions, his appreciation comes under no reckoning. He is given knowledge but not the application of knowledge to the problems of life.He is never given the realization of knowing the right and doing the right.
His mind does not develop in the manner to integrate his beliefs, his citizenship, concepts and his vocation. He is never enabled to discover his resources of mind, body and spirit in order to utilize them in his individual forward- thrust as well as for the service of his fellow-beings. The inevitable result is academic disquiet, which is manifest from the boredom of the students and the listlessness of the teachers.A bored becomes a devil’s workshop. The student finds the environment unsuitable with his dreams with dreams and ideals.
He feels he is superfluous, unrecognized, unwanted. He becomes woefully forgotten by the increasingly impersonalised attitude of teachers. In the institution, routine and monotonous work deadens his brain and deprives him of the perspectives. In the society he feels lost because of the erosion of values due to divergent conceptions of what is and what is not desirable in the country’s democratic set up.There is a big gap between requirements and provisions. The abnormal rise in the number of students has not been proportionate with the available number of teachings staff, accommodation and equipment. In addition to these the students are in crisis on account of economic strains, the worries about the future, having no reasonable prospects of gainful employment, decent standard of living, the indignation over social and economic inequalities, the speed of life and the cut-throat competition at all levels.
The university education at that period of time was devoid of the central purpose of being treated as key to the right development of the individual or rather the key to his survival. It had failed to show the youth new horizons of duty and hard work, failed to discover and utilize the talent and failed to enkindle in them the hopes of future in a well- planned socio- economic structure. The university remained as only a purveyer of inert ideas, having little relationship with fundamental values of life capable of turning students into rational beings with understanding and purposiveness.Some, however, are of the view that unrest among the youth stems from the widespread disease of social indiscipline in the country which is manifested in phenomena like corruption, bribery, nepotism and political immorality including the crossing of floor for personal ends. In an atmosphere surcharged with social and political immorality it is hard for the youth of our country to escape their morbid influence.
As youth are general constituents of society they bring into their behaviour pattern the maladies of the larger society.