Challenges before the student community

Siehzahau T Singsit *

49th AMSU Foundation Day at AMSU Mayai Loishang , D M College Campus   :: August 28 2014
49th AMSU Foundation Day at AMSU Mayai Loishang , D M College Campus on Aug 28 2014 :: Pix - Shanker Khangembam

Student unrest, student politics, student revolt, student power and student movement are some of the terms that are often used when speaking about student organizations all over the world. This is due to the fact that all over the world, "the student community is haunting the Government and the student have become a source of interest, concern and fear of the nation."

However, it is not only the Government that looks at this group with some kind of caution, but even the society at large. Students' today have become so powerful that they have not only succeeded in overthrowing and toppling Governments but also usher in social and political changes besides shaping the destiny not only of their region or state but the country as a whole.

As students are becoming class conscious, alert of their rights and role, after freeing themselves from the 'subdue syndrome' have posed a number of challenges to the society. They have often express "massive discontent with, and opposition to, the existing social and political order." This is more true in the case of 'new society' than of those with a long drawn formal system of educational tradition.

This expression is articulated due to the frequent interaction of ideas in educational institutions which are strategically located, their dynamism, their love for change and their feeling to champion not only 'incampus' or student related issues but even 'offcampus' or social issues. This class consciousness of the students is an important factor in steering their activity and to a great extend in bringing success to their various undertakings.

One of the greatest challenges that base the students' community in general and the leaders in particular is the high expectation that people of the community had. Usually, students are taken to mean those sections of the society who are dependent either financially or otherwise for maintenance and studies on their parents or guardians. A student is always linked to someone who supports him in the pursuit of his study. Because of this, students are dependent on parents.

Moreover, it has also often been held that student movements are clean and pure, people usually think that students in their activities do not have vested interests or selfish motives behind such struggles. The students are viewed to belong to the category of have-nots and who "do not fear losing whatever they have in money, social status, prestige or political power." The people, therefore, have great faith in their sincerity and their spirit of altruistic service.

Hence, with the massive faith and confidence reposed on them, the students community has to prove its mettle by not betraying their people in power tussle, making pecuniary gains for themselves or trying to carve out a political niche for their personal benefits. If these tendencies are noticed, a student organization may lose the confidence of the people, it seeks to stand for.

Another challenge before the student community is the realization of excellent academic goals. It has been noticed by many researchers that students of science or professional streams do not usually get themselves involved much in student activities. In most of the cases, students from the Arts stream are more inclined towards student's activism. This is due to the fact that there are different types of students in the various campuses.

According to Chandra Hazary, there is a four fold classification of the Indian Students population. There are the careerists who are academically oriented students. These students often excel in their studies and extra-curricular activities but are indifferent to politics. The second groups are the political activists. These students are more politically oriented and have links with political parties. They do not compete with the careerists.

In the third groups are the professional students who like to hang around in colleges to enter into the political world. These students have high verbal capacity and are political aspirants and take the student Unions as their platform for a future political career. In the fourth groups are the silent aimless majority who are political and academically average students. They are gregarious in nature and swim with the current affairs.

It is interesting to note that most of the students not only here but elsewhere are by and large considered that what really matters is the degree and not the education that they will gain in life. This pattern of thinking on the part of the students has also to be changed since the long tedious years of learning should not only be aimed at acquiring a degree but more importantly to prepare them for life. People, therefore, expect the student community to take their duty seriously and also create a conducive atmosphere for learning. Hence, the disruption of learning may not be looked favourably by the people and in case there is repeated disruption of academic life, the people's expectation from the student community may be jeopardised.

Another important challenge to the students' community is the allurement to active politics by vested interest groups. It has been pointed out by a number of researchers that "a major case of student unrest is found in the interference of political parties in the affairs of the students' community." The students, if they are serious on being the catalyst of social change have to avoid being "pawns in the chess-board of politics."

Political parties and politicians may try to infiltrate into the students' community to make them their tools in order to get their political aspirations fulfilled. This may be done overtly or covertly. However, it is important, that if student community wants to maintain the image of service to the society, they should be aloof to politics and politicians.

People of our region in particular do not like that students should take part in politics and in order not to betray the masses and get their wholehearted support, this sense of discrimination must be kept in mind. If a student group shows its leaning to any political party, that will spell its ruins. Hence, it is a difficult and trial experience, for student leaders in particular, not to be associated with politics, since vested interest groups will always be after them.

The perspectives of violence and force too have to be taken into consideration by the student community. In these days, violence becomes a distinctive characteristic of the student indiscipline in India. Violence and force, as far as possible, should be avoided since this will not take the community to forge ahead but instead paralyse the whole social system. Students may deliberately foment struggles in order to gain recognition by established leaders.

Hence, one factor that may lead to the glorification of force and violence may be the attempt on the part of the student leader to show that he is brave and daring or to gain recognition from the political leadership, especially those that are not in the ruling Government as it was observed by Lipset. Henceforth, the use of force and violence in itself is not a manifestation of power alone but also it may reflect on the personality of the leaders and even the student community at large.

In the context of the North Eastern region, another important expectation of the people is that students should serve as a mirror of the people's needs and wants. Often, the student community is looked upon as an 'emerging elite', that knows the problems and needs of the masses, many of them are drawn from this group. It was probably with this in mind that various student organisations have taken up certain issues pertaining to tribal nature.

Students as they climb up in the rung of society, understands the discrimination meted out to them for no fault of their own, but since they were born into a stratum that is being looked unfavourably by people from other parts of the country. The student community, then which is considered highly knowledgeable, should help in the ventilation of the problems of their people and prevent discriminations and exploitation on all lines and at all levels. The student community then, should not have a parochial view of their association but take the people's aspirations into confidence.

The student community everywhere has its own "stresses and strains which upset their mental equilibrium." These stresses and strains are unavoidable since they may come from the student's perception of their future. Stresses and strains are part and parcel of the student community and they cannot be rid off by any manner. However, meeting these stresses and strains with self-confidence in the group so that they may not generate any sense of alienation among the group is an important factor for consideration. A student community that has no stresses and strains is probably immature; their maturity can be established only in their proper management.

* Siehzahau T Singsit wrote this article for The Sangai Express
The writer can be reached at stsingsit(at)gmail(dot)com
This article was posted on November 27, 2014.

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