Yeah, I know the title sounds very heavy, but this isn’t a serious or well-thought or well-researched post. It’s just a random thought that occurred to me now when I was arbiting looking for things that will help with this. [Advertisement: NITK proudly presents Engineer 2008. Online events are aplenty, one of which is Virtual Bounty, everyone's favourite online treasure hunt which requires little apart from your Googling skills. Prize money to the tune of USD 250, and more importantly, bragging rights, at stake. Check it out! Event's on 10 Feb 2008, Sunday, 3 PM to 6 PM.. or 1500 hrs to 1800 hrs. Teams of Two. Everyone's eligible, whether you're a techie or a student or a teacher, or a doc or a lawyer.... all you need is a working Net connection. Tell your friends].
You find students, and in general, youth were at the center of any revolutionary uprising. Universities were cauldrons of simmering new thought and bubbling novel ideas. And student activism. Like it’s portrayed in Hazaaron Khwahishein Aisi, or any of those ’80s Bengali movies. Student leaders were big fish who later moved on to mainstream politics. Like Laloo Yadav – I believe he was the Students’ Union leader of Patna University, from where he has a degree in Law.
Now however, all we have is the dregs. There’s Manohar Parikkar, ex-CM of Goa, who was apparently Mess Manager while he was a student at IITB. Oh, and there’s another rival Goan politician who’s also from IITB… I forget his name. And the last remaining vestige of the student activist or student politician would be Michael Vasanth from Aayutha Ezhuthu/Yuva (played excellently by Surya and botched up like manure by Ajay Devgan).
You don’t find such types anymore. Nehru saw to it when he took a critical first step of getting Soviet co-operation to convert the Hijli Detention Camp to IIT-KGP.
Since then, any Priya Venkateshan who would have come under the the influence of right-wing idealogy (or worse, left-wing), taken it upon herself to start and edit a student newspaper which would idealize and provide good press for Swami Vivekananda, Veer Savarkar, Bose, Godse, RSS and VHP (or alternately, China, Marx and Communism, with special attention to denouncing agriculture, hating Jews and pursuing an anti-US stance), spend half her youth in and out of lock-ups, wear khadi kurtas, thick-rimmed glasses and carry a jhola… okay, I’m getting ahead of myself… any such person has instead spent half her teenage in JEE coaching centers, then giving n-hazaar exams, and then wasting away at an undergrad college in the middle of nowhere, and which is certainly not a hub of original political thought, or anywhere close to one, and what she learns at college (if at all), has absolutely nothing to do with politics or running the country.
The brightest young minds in the country are busy swotting for entrance exams, so busy that they don’t glance at the paper unless it screams out about paper leaks or exam postponements. When they get together to discuss, it’s almost always about problems in Irodov or ML Khanna.
Student Union causes are now down to getting enough funds for Engineer, Incident, Saarang, Techfest, Shaasta, Mood I, Cul-Ah!, Down Sterling, Alcheringa, Strawberry Fields and godaloneknowswhatother college fest. Social causes, if any, include collecting money to be sent to earthquake victims at Bhuj, or cleaning the beach for the mandatory extra-curriculars Credit. Other worries include having nightmares about the (extracurricular interest) club website having crashed. Or worse, hacked into.
Instead of perusing political news and getting incensed, people now are forced to mug financial news and arbit stats; they need to be prepared for their IIM GD/PI. And anti-US sentiments ha! Which other place is affordable, Indian-friendly and provides good quality graduate education? The part of India that would probably have been incensed is safely in the US, sufficiently far away from causing havoc by voting. And the incensed ones that remain in India feel that the best way of lodging their protests is by *not* voting!
And we are the generation whose grandparents were members of Indira Gandhi’s Vanar Sena. And whose parents were brought up on the legend of Chacha Nehru, the kid-friendly PM. And who too, have grown on the same idealogy, so much that we would say “Nehru-Chacha? Naah…. how can you believe he sent Subhas Bose to the Gulag (concentration camp in the USSR) with help from Mountbatten and Stalin just because he feared Bose would be the PM? This guy loved kids! Any man who likes children can’t be all that bad…”
Mr. Nehru, you were probably the brightest person in your family (you were the last to get a college degree… only your great-grandson Feroze Varun has attained that distinction since… Antonia Maino failed to complete her spoken-English course… Rajiv dropped out…), your services would have been at great demand at Ogilvy and Mather. The US could very well take a leaf out of your book when it comes to shaping public opinion, perception and social engineering. You’ve basically insured generations of your progeny from public backlash irrespective of how much of their *own* garibi they hataao-fy.
Of course, your KGB Agent granddaughter-in-law tries her best, but being of foreign origin, she only divides and rules the country on sectarian lines by increasing Quota Raj and asking for head-counts of people of various religions in the Armed Forces, apart from pleading clemency for a convicted terrorist; she doesn’t quite understand the importance Indians give to education and social status the way you did.
PS: I don’t think students focussing on things other than politics is wrong. We need to focus on wealth-creation and technological innovation more than anything else now. But heck, just why are the inborn-leader kids not hitting the political scene?
Update: Ah, now that Virtual Bounty is done, I can link folks up to the inspiration behind this post. VBounty, btw was a huuuuuuge hit, record-breaking participation… more than 500 teams took part, and the server acted admirably under the load. If you find this guy anywhere, don’t hesitate to ask for treat . If you took part in this (the event, not the asking for treat), thanks for your assistance in making this event a colossal success, and we at Engineer 2008 look forward to your continued support in making our techfest a grand success.
Anyway.. the inspiration.. was this article about the uprising at Athens Polytechnic University (which I couldn’t link to, as it was an answer to one of the questions in the event) which was the first step towards overthrowing the Junta who were controlling Greece as a dictatorship. Just peruse that link… it was the students who started off the revolution and brought down the dictatorship. NOW, you dissenters, talk.