The Indian youth consists of students from various socio-cultural backgrounds and ever since the days of British occupation students in India have played a major role in the society and politics of this country. Though students are more seen to take up issues which affect them directly, they are also known to embrace causes which affect the nation as a whole. In our country we often come across many students activities in college and university campuses which can be defined as student's initiative for the betterment of the society. All the 3 major political parties in India have their individual students wings viz. Indian Youth Congress, Democratic Youth Federation of India and Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad. Among all the major countries of the world India is the one with maximum young population with the oldest leaders. Out of its 1.2 billion population, more than 600 million people are less than 25 years of age. This simple fact explains the immense potential of the students of this country. Let us take a quick look at how Indian students are participating in myriad social causes and contributing to a better society.
Society can be defined a group of people sharing common values, requirements and interests. It goes without saying that it is the youth of the nation who forms the most important pillar of any society. For the betterment of the society the first and foremost thing every student needs to do is to gather wisdom and knowledge and pass in on to the less privileged members of the society. For instance a child can always choose to devote a few hours every week in teaching the poor kids of his locality. They can also help promote the social and environmental causes by keeping his neighbourhood clean and by planting a few trees from time to time. Planting a tree every month doesn't take much and yet it can be a great step in building a better tomorrow. They can help the vast number of unprivileged members of this country understand their basic rights and lead a dignified life. Even small acts of generosity like helping a blind man cross the street or teaching the kid working at the tea shop how to read can bring about a massive change in the society.
India like all other developed nations has a long history of student's movement. The youth participation during the struggle for Indian independence surely deserves a mention in any article on student's contribution to social causes. During the time of independence Mahatma Gandhi called up the students of the country to participate actively in the struggle for freedom. Young students from all over the nations sacrificed their careers and plunged into the streets protesting against the wrongs of the British government. Young leaders like Nehru lead the movement and we know how students left the British schools and colleges and did away with foreign products. During the partition of Bengal in 1905 by Lord Curzon it was the students who took the lead. Popularly known as the Swadeshi Movement it was majorly led by the students who went for a total boycott of British goods and sought to revive the traditional and domestic products of this country. It were the students who stopped using British papers and picketed the shops selling British goods. Even during the Non Cooperation Movement, the Civil Disobedience Movement and the Quit India Movement which finally forced the British to leave this country we see a massive student's participation. Patriots like Bhagat Singh, Khudiram Bose and many others who gave up their lives for independence also came from student's background.
Today we often find students hitting the streets protesting against government policies, creating awareness about the environment, or collecting aid for the destitute. It is not uncommon to find students of Jawaharlal Nehru College (Delhi) or Delhi University barricading the road and protesting against the tyrannies of the government. When the worst earthquake hit Nepal earlier this year we have seen students from all over the country getting on the streets and collecting food, money, clothing and medication for the survivors. Even during the tsunami in Andaman and Nicobar we found the youth of our country engaging in similar social activities. We are not just talking about college and university students who reached the age of 18. Even school students around the nation tried gathering whatever little aid they could for the victims of the natural disasters. Last year when a young girl was brutally raped and murdered in Delhi, the whole country witnessed how students in all the cities of the country hit the streets demanding capital punishment for the offenders. We all know how the students of AIMS protested against removal of caste reservations a few years back.
When students are treated with respect and when they comprehend their responsibility to the society they are also expected to respect the society in return. College and university students are often seen to organize blood donation camps which are immensely helpful for all those individuals in need of blood. These days we find more and more students using the social media network to voice their grievances. No matter if its an environmental cause, an LGBT movement, a protest against the government or a wave of feminism we always find the students in the forefront.
The Cultural Revolution in China and more recently the Arab Springs which shook the very foundation of these countries undoubtedly had its impact on the Indian youth. The majority of the protestors during the "India against Corruption" movement which swept Delhi last year comprised of college students. We have all seen how more than a thousand young student protestors of Delhi broke the barricades and fought with the police. The major weapon used by the students in this battle against corruption was new tools of communication like Facebook and Twitter. The India against Corruption movement unleashed the disenchantment of the students against the political leaders of all colours. Though the movement was headed by Anna Hazare a septuagenarian Gandhian, the movement was essential a student's movement at heart.
Students participation in social causes provides us with many important insights. Students are the most powerful agents of social change and this can be observed in various events throughout history. Students played a major role in the Civil Rights Movement of the United States. Claudette Colvin was just 15 when she was arrested by the police for refusing to give up her seat in the bus to a white person. In the last 3 or 4 years we have seen the role of the youth movements in toppling the dictatorship in Egypt and Tunisia. In Spain and Greece we have seen thousands of students demonstrating on the streets demanding social change and defending public education. Students from all round the globe participated in the Occupy Movement to draw public attention to the ever growing economic inequality.
It is the students who are seen to make innovations in the media practices of the social movements. Flyers, film screenings, blogs and hash tags being some of them. Students not only appropriate the latest form of media for their own ends, they also use them for purposes of social movements. Students are known to come up with powerful concepts and by making use of an highly aesthetic form they seek to identify the forces of oppression and mobilize their peers.
The best part of a students movement is that they generally tend to operate outside the channels of political parties. Moreover Youth movement these days transcends the barriers of community and are becoming more and more transnational. It is not uncommon to see Indian students collecting aid for earthquake victims of Nepal or Spanish students launching a protest against the Israeli occupation of Gaza. Youth of the 21'st century prefer to organize their principles in a way which would enable them to enact their movement in a broader context.
Though the students have always been and still continue to be an essential part of every progressive social movements, they always face innumerable challenges. First and foremost students participation in the various social causes often don't get the attention it deserves. The global media neglects them and we hardly get to know about the positive messages of the agency of youth. Students are rarely represented as the leaders or participants of social movements. Secondly not all students of the nation have access to the internet. True that a student is more comfortable with the latest technology in communication but it needs to be realized that students from the underdeveloped part of the nation have no access to the internet. If social movement becomes totally dependent on information and communication technologies then a major part of the youth of the country would be left out.
[The author, "Chandrasekhar A.B" is an alumnus of XIM Bhubaneswar] After years of glorious revolutionary struggle and wanton bloodshed, a new rugged hero has emerged. He will lead the masses towards prosperity with the twinkle of a dream in his eye....