There are two kinds of people in this world – idealists and practical people. Everybody else falls somewhere between these extremes. But if one should want for an educational institution to create more than just employable graduates; if one thinks that they should create future leaders of tomorrow who will be motivated and honest, one would then be probably branded as a hopeless idealist. And not without cause.
The power mongering sham that the Students’ Union elections 2009 in the University of Hyderabad became would disgust even the faintly idealistic at heart. What should have been a simple but powerful election of student representatives within a university became a thicket of controversy, a bellowing of self servicing political ideologies and an undisguised struggle for power which left many students questioning the point of it all.
The General Body Meeting (GBM) held on 20 August was a hungama with shouting, tantrums, a physical fight and the ultimate walk-out characteristic of our parliament. The philosophy is simple – either you shout and get yourself heard. If you can’t, don’t bother listening to the others as well. It’s survival of the loudest.
The GBM was but the beginning. People who are ‘the upholders of democracy in the campus’ did not disappoint the cynics with their expected behaviour. The days of nomination provided entertainment for all those who consider shouting threats and obscenities without consideration for age or gender but a general pastime. Rumours about cases of sexual harassment being filed against certain candidates started flying. Violence was also reported with one student being roughened up. Apart from this, certain other students wielding cameras and camcorders were questioned and stopped. The reasons behind such behaviour may seem justified to some, but the behaviour in itself is never so.
The day of the counting saw a huge amount of confusion with allegation of rigging, raised voices and slogans being thrown around. The fact that it took an unprecedented amount of security to maintain at least a facsimile of peace speaks for itself. The rude behaviour of students, not just against the members of their rival parties, but also the faculty members present was shocking but what is positively saddening is that such behaviour is not an isolated incident. It happens every year and hence the advice for only the thick-skinned to enter into politics.
The goings on of this election may fill up pages but the question that has to be asked is whether all that has happened is any different from what we all term as the corrupt politics and hopeless Indian scenario. We read news about this political scam or that political hungama but are the political scenarios in our intellectually ‘enlightened’ educational institutions any different? Idealistically speaking, if we hope to change the inescapable, dirt ridden politics of our country, the change needs to come from such places of learning. But sadly, university politics only serves to hold a mirror to national politics. It is viewed as a training ground for future politicians. But it kills any hope for a different set of leaders for tomorrow as the few people who may seriously try for change get bogged down by a system that goes around in loops.
In terms of politics, apart from the hardly existing idealists and the rampant opportunity seekers, a third group titled ‘I-don’t-care’ exists. Neither do they hold opinions about politics nor they do they feel it is important to hold them. They have given up like a seasoned cynic. A semblance of democracy does remain because they tell you that you have the right to vote, but when you do not have the right to contest for a post without fear or subscribing to any particular ideology (superficial or otherwise), the definition of democracy needs a re-look. This process of re-moulding of attitudes and behaviour needs to start with education. But the meandering words of hopeless idealists are often lost in silence.
By Deepti Nair
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