Students and Politics
Essay No. 01
The question of whether students should actively participate in politics has been debatable for a long time now. It has been a controversial subject. Both who believe they should and those who say they should not argue strongly on the merits of their cases. The discussion goes on between the students, teachers, and politicians, but no satisfactory or convincing solution to the problem has come up.
Those who oppose their participation in politics put up a strong case. They argue that politics being a dirty game creates groups and parties among the students which leads to permanent enmities among them. It naturally disturbs the peace of mind of students and thus their studies suffer which is their prime area of attention at that stage. The students in schools and colleges cannot afford to waste their time in party bickerings while they are required to pursue the prime duty of their studies. By involving them in a political tussle with each other we are not doing them any good. They participate in strikes, demonstrations, and processions. At times there is a clash with the college authorities or the police, and the situation takes an ugly turn. Many students are put behind bars. They have to follow cases in court. Thus a lot of precious time is lost not only to those who are actively associated but many innocent students who really want to study. Thus participation in politics spoils the career of a student and makes him useless for his future life.
Now, those who support the proposition, also make out a strong case. They say that education means all-around development. It does not mean only literacy. Participation in politics leads to a harmonious development of personality.
It makes the student aware of what is happening in the country and the world around him. It develops in him the qualities of leadership, instead of being a timid and shy bookworm. He grows into an aggressive, dominating, and alert young man who knows how to fight the battle of life.
How a student can be deprived of a very essential training in politics during his forming years of character and personality? Participation in politics trains him to be a good citizen in the democratic way of life. He comes to know early in his life how to be a responsible and cultured citizen of a country like India. Such people will be an asset to society tomorrow. He gains a fair knowledge of debating and putting forward his point of view with force and conviction. He is also trained for leadership. As a leader in making he develops courage, sincerity of purpose, the spirit of service, self-discipline, and devotion to duty. The great leaders have been great student leaders in their student life.
Now it is difficult to decide whose view is carrying more weight. So the way out seems to take the middle path. A student should take part in politics but not very actively. All his activities should go within some limits so that the prime concern is not affected, that is, studies.
Essay No. 02
Students and Politics
Much controversy has been raised around this topic of whether students should take part in politics or not.
In my opinion, politics must never be allowed under any condition to divert the students from studies. Because studies are very important for students as they help to shape their futures.
Since we live in a free society students should not be forced to take part in politics, be it related to their academic world or governmental politics.
There are hundred other worthy things students can take up in their free time other than politics. These days’ political parties play with the sentiments of youth and show little sense of responsibility towards them.
I think as long as students study political problems from a detached point of view, there is no harm but the moment they throw themselves into active politics they run the risk of ruining their academic life.
Moreover, students should also not join politics because they are not mature enough to understand its subtleties and are more likely to harm than help their nation.
Besides this, most importantly students’ active participation in politics affects their studies. Therefore students should never allow their attention to digress from their studies.
If a student seriously wishes to pursue politics, then he should first complete his education because half-educated and ill-equipped, he would not be able to contribute much even in civic life.
Essay No. 03
Students And Politics
Much dust of controversy has been raised around the question of whether or not the students should take part in politics. Some people are of the opinion that politics must, under no circumstances, be allowed to divert students from their studies, while others believe that it is necessary for students to take a very active part in politics so that they may receive some training for the struggle that awaits them.
In fact, this controversy is the legacy of India’s struggle for independence. During the days of the non-cooperation movement, the students’ participation in politics was deemed to be synonymous with their interest in the welfare of their country It was a time when the whole country was ablaze with the fire of revolt.
The new party of young revolutionary leaders set before the country the soul-stirring ideas of complete independence and gave a siren call to people of all classes and creeds, ages, and qualifications to join in their efforts to overthrow the alien yoke. Coming in the sacred name of Motherland as it did, the call was irresistible to the youth, particularly the students who with their hearts filled with the fire of freedom threw themselves in hundreds and thousands into the heat and dust of revolutionary politics.
The prospect of activity and adventure which the new field offered them and which contrasted so very dramatically with the dull-drab routine of their college life, appealed their impulsive minds most vividly. Their participation in the national movement, was undoubted, useful for they possessed greater energy and strength than otters, and in the context of the peculiar circumstances that surrounded the country at that time, died were fully justified in sacrificing their studies for the time being at the altar of political freedom. But now the conditions are changed. We are no longer a slave nation: our goal of complete independence has been achieved and as such politics, today does not mean to us a struggle with the foreign rule as it meant in the past, but a science of planning for national welfare, the organization of individuals into a nation for the preservation of their safety, peace, and prosperity.
The relation of students with politics has, therefore, to be reviewed and determined in the light of modern conditions and the kind of society that we seek to establish in our country. So far the problem has been approached principally from three points of view-the orthodox, the revolutionary, and the moderate, and before we give our own final decision we must study and examine the comparative merits and demerits of these three views.
According to the orthodox view, politics is the last refuge of the scoundrel. It must be set aside, at all costs as a forbidden fruit to the youth. The study of politics corrupts and coarsens the student’s mind, disintegrates and degenerates his moral character, and leads him to rush in where wise men fear to tread. It develops in him a love of worldly values, power, and pelf, artificial and intrigue, struggle and strife.
The student loses his touch with the higher and nobler ideals of life and becomes a mere time-serving opportunist. As his powers of understanding and judgment are not enough mature, he is more easily misled into wrong alleys in politics. By taking an active part in politics he neglects his fundamental duties of moral and intellectual advancement to which he is pledged as a student, and on account of his immature understanding and irresponsible sentimentalism does more harm than good to his country. He should, therefore, have no concern with the politics of the country and lead a life of single-minded devotion to his studies. But, the people endowed with a revolutionary temper of mini think of the matter altogether differently. According to then, politics is one of the noblest gifts of the advancement of mod human knowledge. In a free country, under the conditions o modern civilization, it is an important part of culture and education.
To cut students off from this new force in education is to den democracy its true meaning and to a country her own best. Not only do the students need political knowledge but also practical training in this field. Otherwise, the lack of proper knowledge. and training of politics amounts to shelving the political training to indefinite time and too uncertain hands.
There is, however, still another set of thinkers who take a moderate view of the situation. They suggest that full facilities. should be given to the students to study and understand the prevailing currents of political life. It is a great folly to regard, politics as a foreign and forbidden subject to them and thus to keep them in dark about the various fateful changes that are developing in their country and abroad.
What the situation needs is not to deprive them of their interest in politics but to train them in the qualities of patient study and intelligent observation so that they may be enabled to express their interest in dignified and responsible ways. Political education should be imparted to them in their schools and colleges through debates, discussions, and lectures.
Every effort should be made to benefit them physically, morally, and intellectually for the service of their motherland. But so far as their active participation in political life is concerned, we must draw a line. Political knowledge is good for them but no political agitation.
None of the foregoing views can be rejected point-blank. Each one of them has some grain of truth in it. Politics may not be the sole guiding force of human life and there may be a hundred other things in the world better than those our politicians can dream of, nevertheless, politics is not always the last resort of the scoundrel. It is also the first resort of men like Gandhi and Nehru. In the modern world, politics plays a role of no minor significance and an interest in politics as Gopal Krishna Gokhale observes, “is the same thing as an interest in the country”
Politics and patriotism have become today almost synonymous terms so that to deprive our students of their interest in politics would mean to rob them of those noble patriotic sentiments and generous impulse which belong to them as their birthright. No doubt, the students are easily swept away by the sentimental aspect of politics and have little sense of responsibility but for that, it would be foolish to crush their interest in politics which is both natural and necessary.
It is, therefore, indispensable that sound political education should be imparted to the students. Schools and colleges should provide them with full facilities for acquiring accurate and intimate knowledge of all the leading political questions of their country and forming sound views in regard to them. They should be at liberty to discuss and express their views on political matters, and proper guidance which is at once wise and patriotic should be supplied to them at the hands of their parents, professors, and politicians.
As Mr. C. F Andrews once said, “The historical and economic questions which lie at the base of least three-fourths of the politics of modern Indian students, should be dealt with wisely and sympathetically by those who are teaching history and economics and sound opinion should thus be built up in the colleges themselves.” The students of today are required to study the political problems not only of their own country but of the world at large. The countries of the world are economically and politically so closely interlinked that the problems of a particular country have to be understood in the context of the world problems. The political problems of India, too, should be treated not as something isolated, but as part of the problems and movements of the world. The students should, therefore, be given every facility and full freedom to study the politics of their own country as well as of the world.
But so far as the students’ participation in active political agitation is concerned, we must, however, place some limits on it. Political knowledge is one thing but political agitation another. The former means their intellectual advancement but the latter signifies their complete ruin. So long as they study political problems from a detached and dispassionate point of view there is no harm but the moment they throw themselves into the heat and dust of active political agitation they contract numerous dangers to their personal and national life.
On account of their impressionable age and heightened susceptibility to propaganda, they are likely to be easily duped and deceived by interested groups and individuals of dubious political aims. “Politics, that game of governments,” as an eminent thinker says, “is too big a game for the half-developed powers of young men and women.
It requires for its fulfillment a sound body and a sound mind. These could be attained in no hurry. They require cultivation and discipline. Do we not know the miserable perversion of youthful minds when they are dubbing in politics and misguided patriotism? What can we say of these misdirected youths who have brought in glorious shame on the fair name of our political aspirations by turning into the dangerous game of revolutionary activities? Do we not know and hear daily of strikes among students and deadlocks of mental work as if education is commercial manufacture and students the self-appointed trustees of intellectual trade unions?” A developed intellect, strong will, and the spirit of self-sacrifice are the necessary qualifications of a man who enters into politics.
Students, whose intellect has not yet fully developed and who are still receiving lessons in character and culture, are immature. They cannot cope with the subtleties of political propaganda and are likely to do many things which are more harmful than helping themselves and to their nation. Students have generally proved failures in the field of active politics. When the government of the country adopts repressive measures which it generally does, they naturally become exasperated and lose their patience and self-restraint. Not unoften they resort to violence and their sentimental activities disturb the peace and order of the country. When their objects are not achieved, they face bitter frustration and weep over the spilled milk. Many a young and promising career has been shipwrecked on the rock of practical politics.
It is also true that a student’s active participation in politics affects his studies adversely and defeats his aim of studentship very largely. The student should never divert his attention from his studies. His primary duty is to equip himself physically, mentally, and morally. He has to furnish his mind through hard application and study with the best that has been thought and felt in the world. There lies before him a vast storehouse of knowledge and learning and to own if he has to sweat during the day and burn the midnight oil. It has been said that learning is a jealous mistress.
It does not allow us to think of other things and claims our entire and absolute attention. It is the duty of parents and professors to see that nothing stands in the way of a young man’s pursuit of learning. Taking part in politics means sure interference with the studies. The student’s mind is divided and his heart is disturbed.
The students of today are the citizens of tomorrow The interest and prosperity of the country demand that they should not be allowed to remain half-educated and ill-equipped. A student who begins to take interest in practical politics too early does harm to his country and to his career. Therefore, he should make himself fit for the task before he joins the battle of politics. A soldier who is not drilled and disciplined proves a failure if not a menace.
Student life is an excellent period of preparation, for the work that faces the individual and the community, *or the calls pleasant and unpleasant, that are made upon men in society. Let the students, therefore, utilize the short period of their college career up to the greatest extent and prepare themselves fully for the responsibilities that are to descend on them in the future, so that they may become more serviceable and more useful to their motherland and be capable of the greatest service and sacrifice when their turn comes.
However, students can be given some practical training in politics inside the school or college but without letting the influence of outside political parties interfere in their activities. It is true students need utmost concentration for their studies, but it does not mean to rule out the desirability of balancing theoretical knowledge with practical activities. So many activities are ahead in the field like music, drama, military training and so on which draw some attention of students from their studies. But their contribution to student life is immense. In fact, practical training in politics also, though in miniature, already flourishes in most of the colleges in the form of student unions throbbing on the democratic principle of elections. The experiment is just underway and although it provides great training by itself yet it’s in the present practice that is rather limited. It is true that student unions can be made a unit of political life and training and with little effort and imagination can be made the instrument stamping nobler political values like service to humanity, tolerance Fairplay and so on.
Toda); under the influence of the concept of the training of the whole personality or in other words, of head heart, and hand, the different types of social and political activities are thought necessary for the wholesale development of an individual in contrast to mere intellectual growth. The value of such practical training can be left on such emergency occasions as justify students’ leaving their studies and fighting against intolerable oppression and injustice, though it has to be admitted that such occasions come very rarely in the life of a country and they are often called abnormal times.
There are occasions in the life of a nation or community when normal duties are suspended and normal life does not function. When a house is on fire no inmate of it can be allowed to stay inside, even if he be in his prayer-room with hands folded eyes closed. He must come out and take his stand among those and who fight the fire.
He must rescue life and property from the clutches of fire. So also when the country is face to face with a calami must come out of the ten pies of learning and play, students an active part in combating it. It is true that their progress receives a setback. But there is no help for it because if a major catastrophe is allowed to overtake a country nobody will survive. Who lives if the country dies, and who dies, if the country lives?