Brief overview of Student unrest in India
India is also a country with a long tradition of student activism. The political demonstrations organized during the fight for independence saw the beginning of student unrest in India. Students participated in the independence struggle and thousands of students were arrested and put in jail because of their nationalist activities. There existed strong political student organizations on most Indian campuses representing not only the nationalists who were under the leadership of Gandhi, but also socialist, communist and communal elements. Until today, student organisations such as the All-India Sikh Students’ Federation in Punjab and the All Assam Students Union in Assam form the backbone of sub-national movements throughout India. The student community had high ideological consciousness and since a large number of the student population came from wealthy urban families, students had time for political activity. However, post-independence period saw the transformation of student political life and movement in many ways. Before independence, the primary aim and purpose of the student movement was independence for India which had a large number of supporters from both the student community as well as major nationalist leaders of that time. After 1947, the goal of independence was achieved and many of the student organizations began to have differences over ideological politics. In addition, the nationalist leaders who had formerly lent their support to student activism withdrew their co-operation and changed their attitudes after they became government leaders. Even the educational authorities who had been neutral towards the student movement prior independence became negative in their attitudes and tried to keep any political organizations off the campuses. All these factors along with the weakening of a sense of community among the students led to the collapse of the pre-independence movement. The Indian campus began to take the nature of sporadic breaks and protests against local issues which were related to the increasing frustration of the students. Beginning with the protest demonstrations by the law students of the Delhi University in 1966, student protests began to spread to other parts of the country- from Jammu and Kashmir in the north to the far down Southern state of Kerala, to U.P, Madhya Pradesh, West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh and others. Some students, reportedly Naxalites in West Bengal, went to the extent of wrecking the science laboratories, office records, books etc in various colleges and schools and universities. Some libraries, stocked with books on Mahatma Gandhi, were destroyed. Though students organized themselves around a number of issues, there is lack of an effective organized student movement. Some of the causes for the unrest are factors like fear of unemployment, generation gap, political interference, lack of moral values, lack of control of parents over their children, lack of leadership, conflict between the rural and the urban youth, influence of alien cultures on Indian youth, the defective and obsolete educational set-up and lack of amenities at the educational and cultural activities, the conflict between a desire for greater personal freedom and demands of a rigid society. In some cases, the student unrest took the shape of violent agitations against all established authority causing widespread disturbances. Statistics collected on the occurrence of student unrests revealed that while the number of violent student agitations have grown, the proportion of cases among them attributable to grievances connected with academic life were less in number. The nature of student unrest in India shows that the problem of student unrest is not entirely an educational problem. It is clear that this phenomenon owes its existence not only to a defective educational system but also to other deeper factors as well which are connected to the wider social,...
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