Student Politics and 'Nationalism'
Author: Thamanna Abdul Latheef 09 Apr 2018
Nationalism is one of the most used words in the prime-time debates and discussions in the recent past by the media. Though the outburst to demonstrate some as ‘Nationalists’ and others as ‘Anti-nationalists’ emerged, instead of dealing with the menace, political parties as well as the media hyped it and elevated it to a next level of disgust. Hence, nation was completely engulfed in the discussions to decide and evaluate ‘who is a nationalist and who is not’.
As campuses were chosen to be the battled field of such belligerence, the students take over altogether an unusual shade of political zealotry. The fallout between the ABVP and the left in the campuses across the nation is apparently the miniature level clash of the ongoing confrontations between Left wing and the RSS on a larger scale all over India.
In the name of So-called "Nationalism"
From the national capital's Jawaharlal Nehru University to the Jadavpur University in Kolkata to Hyderabad University, student issues have often boiled over, leading to violent clashes between rival groups. There were plentiful instances where ABVP threats, agitations, frivolous police complaints have led to cancellation of events in the universities.
Over the last couple of years, however, the ABVP adopted a new role of countering Left propaganda in various university campuses. This is a significant transformation as the organization is no longer focused on the electoral politics of student unions, but is also mandated to take the ideological battle to the rival's camps in educational institutions of higher learning. After the BJP government came to power in 2014, the trend to free university campuses from the influence of Marxist ideology became their agenda.
In February 2016, a section of students had organized an event on campus to commemorate the hanging of Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru. Permission was cancelled for the event, which drew a large number of people from outside the campus. The event allegedly saw anti-national slogans being raised, which ultimately led to the arrest of three students, who were then booked for sedition.
Then the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) was branded “anti national” after the incident. But once the “sedition row” died down with the matter going to court, MSc. student Najeeb Ahmed disappeared from campus on October 15, following an alleged altercation with ABVP members.
Ramjas College v/s ABVP in Delhi University
The recent clash at the Delhi University's Ramjas College between the Akhil Bhartiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) and the All India Students Association (AISA) is not an isolated one; rather there has been a rigorous campaign by the ABVP's students and youth activists to dominate campus life in India in the name of nationalism since years. Ramjas issue symbolizes a greater ideological combat, as the idea of attacking the rivals has been a trend across the universities in India.
Clashes in other Universities
In may 2016, students clashed in Jadavpur University after Bollywood film director Vivek Agnihotri screened his political drama Buddha in a Traffic Jam on the campus, amidst protests by a large section of Left-leaning students. The ABVP not only screened the movie, permission for which had been denied by the varsity administration, but also manhandled and molested female students during the clashes.
In September 2016, Central University of Haryana, Mahendragarh staged a dramatized adaptation of Mahasweta Devi’s story ‘Draupadi’. ABVP members promptly held a protest, branding the play ‘anti-national’ for allegedly projecting Indian soldiers in a negative light. They also demanded the arrest of the teachers and students involved on the charges of sedition.
Campuses being the limitless source of ideas and innovation, politics isn’t something evil that the campuses can hold on to. Being politically aware of the issues and having the courage to raise their voice against the social injustice, students play an important role in nation building. Despite the fact that students are sent to the educational institutions to learn, education without invoking social commitment in the individual will harmfully affect the existence of the society in a long run.
If our educational institutions are teaching young minds to hate, invoke violence, follow the path of aggression and intolerance, somewhere in the middle, we have lost the values of education, somewhere we have forgotten the purpose of education and co-existence. If students are taking law in their hands, it is not their fault instead, but with those who are politically motivating them to do so. If our educational institutions aren’t involved in making the students the better citizens, there is something horribly wrong with the system. It is not the student politics to be halted but the filthy political agenda’s of various parties who manipulate young minds.
By: Thamanna Abdul Latheef C
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