On the 2nd of September, the day of the nationwide Bharat Bandh called by the Left, I refreshed my Facebook newsfeed as has become a routine for me after waking up every morning. I wasn’t particularly expecting to find anything out of the ordinary but on the day I was quite amused on seeing a post that said, “80 of us have been arrested today morning at 8 am. Laal salam ! – feeling awesome.”
Initially, I disregarded the status as childish and naive since the person was about my age. However, things turned a bit more complicated when a second post came at 2.18 precisely that stated they had not been given food by the administration and no proper water for consumption. This he regarded as violation of their Human Rights.
Firstly, before indulging in activities which might lead to arrest, one should be prepared to face repercussions which might not be exactly favorable to one’s health. Secondly, the protest was against the State, I presumed. So, in lay man’s terms, you protest against the State and yet expect the State Machinery to take good care of you while you continue to present a threat to their administration with your justified/unjustified protests. To assume such is ignorance and childishness of the highest order. Third, it seems the person was quite happy with the arrest until he was forced to come to terms with harsh reality. Was he not aware of how petty criminals and thugs are treated by the Police? The person called himself a “Political Prisoner”, but I am afraid the Police are ill equipped to make that distinction. Additionally, the title of Political Prisoner is earned, not claimed. If indeed he was aware of conditions inside a Jail, was he expecting some special treatment due to his age and political affiliations? Either way, one is not allowed to claim sympathy regarding his predicament when he was obviously overjoyed on being put in the situation in the first place.
The person I am refering to hails from a small town in the North East, in the Cachar region of Assam. However, the duplicity and ignorance he displayed is not confined to that locality. It is a meme that has youth all over India in its grasp. At this juncture, one should always remember. Opposition for the sake of Opposition must be avoided, Protests for the sake of Protest must be rejected.
For instance, last year, the students of the prestigious Presidency College of Kolkata organized protests for “My Attendance, My Choice.” Basically, they wanted the rule that mandates a minimum of 75% class attendance for appearing in exams to be abolished. According to them, they should have a free choice over which classes they wish to attend and should not face repercussions if they do not attend any classes at all. Never mind the fact that when they got themselves admitted to the highly reputed college, they had formally agreed to abide by the rules of the college. Never mind the rule in no way oppresses students in any manner and only seems a very legitimate demand to make from students who have chosen the college because because of the reputation it has acquired for itself. Merely because the rule is ‘inconvenient’ at most, it must be done away with. Also, as a neutral observer, you are expected to ignore the fact that the protests were sparked when numerous students were debarred from appearing for examinations after they had failed to secure 75% attendance by a wide margin.
And then, obviously, there are the FTII protests. It is a first of its kind, I believe, where students have demanded the removal of an appointed person even before the person has had the time to prove his ability. According to the students, the person is not qualified enough for the office. As an observer from the outside, what I am interested in is, the government pays a huge amount as subsidy for each of the students. So basically, the students are squandering government’s money and simultaneously protesting against the same government and disrupting classes for the simple reason that the person appointed is not to their liking. That translates to directly using the government’s own resources as energy supplements for fighting against the government. Remember that the students are as clueless as us regarding whether Gajendra Chauhan is capable of fulfilling his duties since they haven’t given him an opportunity to perform his duties yet. Under such circumstances, their protests would have garnered far more legitimacy had they vacated their hostels the moment they decided to go against the government. But of course, they do not have the guts for it.
The students of my generation, I believe, take too much for granted. While they want the authorities to treat them fairly and with respect, they forget they are duty bound to honour some obligations as well. If you do not want a minimum attendance rule enforced on you, pursue higher studies through distance education. If you want good food, clean water for consumption, and no discomfort whatsoever, do not indulge in protests which might get you arrested. If you are protesting against the government, do not expect the government to take care of you during the time. It’s basic common sense and the honorable thing to do. But as Voltaire said famously, “Common Sense is not so common.”