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Did you cheer for the American students rallying against gun laws in their country? Yes? When was the last time you did the same for student activism in your own nation?
After the horrible incident of the shooting at a school in Florida, students from all over the USA came out to march and protest against the lack of stringent gun laws in the country. It was a spectacular moment with children demanding what was rightfully theirs – their own lives. We saw immense support for this movement by so many celebrities, even in our own country.
On the one hand, it is great that people in our country stand with these children and young people in their actions but, on the other hand, how supportive are the same people for the exact same thing in India itself? Cases in point: the shameful treatment of JNU students protesting against sexual harassment in the institution – they were beaten and molested and not given a scrap of attention by any authority even after filing an FIR at the nearest police station; the on-going strike at TISS by students resisting the cut in funds for students with reserved quotas, which just completed a month, but has been neglected in a manner which makes one think if there is anybody at all who gives a damn about them; and lastly, the threat to make publicly funded educational institutions partially autonomous which made the teachers and students of DU hold a strike for one whole week, in addition to which there is also a march this Wednesday.
Tell me, where did you last see any of this news on any mainstream form of media? That being a topic for a whole other rant, I think it is safe to say that there isn’t really anyone who cares about students protesting in India. Unless of course, they engage even remotely with the all-time favourite trigger of ‘nationalism’, upon which the ruling party swoops in and creates an issue and strategically cuts funding (trace a pattern with open eyes, if you don’t believe me).
If this is not sheer hypocrisy and ignorance, then what is it? Why is it that the students of a country which won its freedom mainly through non-violent protests stand stripped of the exact same right? Do you not feel suffocated at the utter neglect of so many crucial issues which students all over India pick up and talk about? Being a student of DU myself, I feel the urgency and reality of the situation of public education in our country; being a woman I feel terrified at the aspect that a regular sexual offender was let out of jail in a matter of minutes despite so many accusations. Thinking that children and students and basically all the people protesting are just attention-seekers unless of course, they’re on your TV and in America, shows a level of apathy and ignorance that is frightening in a country which prides itself in being the world’s biggest democracy.
Why are we so scared to let young people take a stand? Being politically active is a necessity in the times that we live in, and it is of utmost importance that every single person digests this fact properly. A university is the place of discourse and change. It is what has the future of any nation under its wing, and if you do not support this future in their cause, how long do you think you will remain unscathed when they get trampled upon by injustice?
Encourage our students to stand for their ideas, support movements that are in their infant stages, and maybe there will be some hope for a better tomorrow. Peace!
Top image credits Joe Athialy, used via Flickr, for representational purposes only.