Students and Politics
Some people are of the view that students should confine themselves to their studies. They think that anything that diverts their attention ‘from studies is to be discouraged. When India was ruled by the British, the situation was different. Then it was everyone’s duty, including the, students, to take part in the agitations for the liberation of the country. But now, in free India, active participation of the students in political affairs is’ not desirable.
Others assert that students form an important section of society and as such they should take part actively in politics. They have to be trained in political affairs and that training will be useful to them, if they get an opportunity to guide the destiny of the country. They argue that mere theoretical training does no good.
The orthodox view is that active participation of students degenerates their moral character. No sincere and honest person can remain in the political field for long. To get the job of a waiter in a good restaurant one has to produce at least a health certificate. But as far as politics is concerned, one does not require any qualification or fitness, though the state craft of the present day requires extraordinary ability. Politics is perhaps the’ only profession, as R.L. Stevenson points out, for which no preparation is thought necessary. Corruption has become very common in the political field. Most of our politicians say that they wish to ‘serve the people. But their main ambition is to make money. Political leaders like Gandhiji or Lincoln are rare. Politics has become `poly-tricks’. In the West, the word ‘politician’ also means “a person who follows politics as a career, regardless of principle.” When his great teacher Socrates was put to death, Plato was disillusioned. Then he was convinced that it was difficult to take part in politics and retain one’s integrity. The more he observed and the older he became, the feeling became stronger. Sir Robert Walpole, the first Prime Minister of England tried to maintain his power by venal means.
If students are made tools to achieve the needs of political parties, it will vitiate the atmosphere of the country. In our country, there are several student organisations professing loyalty to various political parties. Very often these organisations launch strikes in accordance with the directions issued by these parties. They destroy not only public property but also commit murders. At Oxford and Cambridge there are college unions, but they do not instigate the students to any agitation. The students of Japan are highly disciplined. Rarely do they resort to strikes. They are very patriotic and assist their government in national reconstruction.
Students should not waste their energy on political agitations. Politics is too big a game for the half-developed powers of the young men- and women. After completing their education, they may join any political party and work for it. While they are students, they can, of course, increase their political knowledge by debates and discussions. They should also keep abreast of the political events in our country and abroad. We are reminded of the famous words of Lenin, the great revolutionary:
“Your first duty is to study, your second duty is to study, and your third duty is to study.”