Monday, February 4, 2013

Students and politics

One of the most widely-discussed controversies of the day is whether students should take part in politics or not. The root cause of this extraordinary state of things lies in the historical background of our struggle for freedom. Both in Bangladesh and India, students inherited a tradition
of political activity by virtue of having borne the brunt of this sub- continent’s fight for independence.

Those who favor the participation of students in politics base their stand mainly on four arguments. Firstly, students of to-day being the citizens of tomorrow, it is necessary to give them some training in active politics alongside their pursuit of study. This would go to make their education realistic and practical. Secondly, students have both a duty and a right to see that the country is governed well. Thirdly, students being the most selfless section of the population, their participation in politics ensure a better service of national interests. It is they alone who otherwise are apt to realize their own ends at the expense of the nation. Taking all these factors into consideration, they argue that students should be encouraged to take interest in politics.

Those who disfavor students-politics advance two arguments in the main. Firstly, politics being serious and exciting occupation is antithetic to the pursuit of study which requires coolness of mind. The two can never be done together without the former gradually absorbing the latter entirely. Secondly, to do politics in modern society, faced with complex national and international problems, is a hard job calls for enough of experience and sagacity, tolerance and patience. It needs cool judgment, dispassionate approach to problems and tactful handing of complicated situations. All these and other virtues that make a true politician come with age and are hardly to be found in the youth, much less teen-aged students.

Both the views are vitiated by extremism. While there is not denial that the participation of students in politics may bear some good to them and the society, the possibility of ultimate loss to both cannot be overlooked. It is also important to note that students may hardly remain impartial enough to check corrupt politicians and protect popular interests. More often than not, they have been found to be swept off by the r tide of catchy slogans raised by political parties.

In that case, they only strengthen the hands of politicians for exploiting the masses with greater success. On the other hand, students are great organized force and have both time and education to take interest in the affairs of the country in countries like ours, where the bulk of the population are too poor and ignorant to understand anything of politics and the most of the rest are too busy with their day-to-day struggle, the students are the only section who can save politics from utter stagnation. Hence their participation in politics is contributory to larger social interest. But it must be qualified and strictly confined within reasonable limits. That is to say, they should study politics, go into political and economic problems, discus about their solutions and express their views in an organized from but with an unbiased attitude.

In fine, the primary root of students-politics lies in the conditions of society. If the students of Europe or America live in academic seclusion, it is mainly because social conditions there are favorable to that. If, therefore, we want the elimination of student-politics from our society after the model of the west, it is necessary first of all to remedy those social ills which encourage, at times, force our students to step out of their own arena into the realm of politics for which most of them are unfit.

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