Off late a lot of student politicking gets prime time attention in news studios and in the social media circles and as I see it, such campus coverage has increased phenomenally ever since 2014. Perhaps it would help if the same media houses had shown how badly our Government run schools function! Nevertheless a certain social media campaign with people displaying placards of “Ï am not scared of ABVP” that was being circulated caught my attention! It looked like the media had found their newest darling who happens to be a martyred army man’s gullible daughter herself paradoxically extending support to the Azaadi gang(read anti-nationals)! Whatever her reasons for this logic but definitely ‘Sahavaasa dosha’ matters!
The whole world knows that these student groups are political wings where many associate themselves on ideological basis and many others associate blindly because a friend wants you to be part of their group or a rally or a protest. There is nothing wrong in brewing ideology because it is for the individual to take it or leave it but if one notices it is only recently that most of us are becoming aware of other student organizations like SFI, AISA etc because most newspaper reports have always reported about ABVP and its political affiliations with the BJP and RSS.
Not that the tirade has stopped, it conveniently continues till this day as most reports goes like this “ ABVP the student wing of BJP/RSS protesting against the entry of JNU scholar XYZ ” but what is dubiously hidden is the fact that this so called XYZ scholar is also an active member of another student wing which has its own political affinities.
And it is this bias of dubiously packaging anti-national activities as liberalism and highlighting one’s ideological affiliation while concealing the other’s political agenda that should be called out hence I thought I would share an old memory of how I came to know of RSS and ABVP. And yes unlike many writers who wear pseudo rationalism on their sleeves portraying their biased views as journalism I shall for the reader’s ease declare that yes I am ideologically pro all the nation building forces like RSS that would call out the pseudo secular rants running amok wildly almost blinding youngsters to differentiate between dissent and deceit!
The first time I heard about RSS was when I was 10 when I accidentally attended a Judo class in my vicinity some 3 decades ago. It was conducted for girls in a nearby RSS shaka, back then I had no clue what RSS was all about nor had I heard about words like women empowerment! To me it was just another extra-curricular activity.
Years later when in college I heard that the ABVP was a bad bad thing and that one needed to stay away from but it turned out that their protests against caste reservation in government jobs did make lot of sense to me. Later during my PUC holidays I got to enroll in one of their personality development workshops during summer. In the week long course we learnt a lot of life skills like socializing, healthy relationships and public speaking and the last 2 days were dedicated for a village tour which most of us thought would be a fun trip to the muddy country side and some traditional food served.
It was a place called Aradeshanahalli near Bengaluru, after a rough ride in a government bus we assembled around the group captain who instructed us that from now on we would be on our own and had to help the villagers in their household chores or fields compulsorily as much as possible and were required to establish meaningful conversations with them. We were quickly grouped in 2 and 3 member squads and had to knock at the doors and request if we could stay with them, if refused we were to come back to the village school where we could meet our team members who worked like helpdesk. Of course the villagers were informed about this arrangement and we were told not to cross the allotted areas for safety purpose. This was perhaps the most challenging thing for us as we realized that most houses didn’t have toilets and few houses that had toilets and bathrooms had it outside the house like a makeshift shed with coconut barks as roof. We finally managed to get a host who served Ragi Muddhe (Ragi balls) a Karnataka staple diet in rural areas and a health-diet among urbanites. If we wasted any food, it would neatly be picked back by the lady of the house and gracefully kept in a cane basket, only to be served again for dinner! And we ran a huge risk of ending up eating leftover food from all and sundry so we decided to polish everything _ the Ragi ball and the spicy coconut and green chilly sambar. After a good night’s sleep on a mat without electricity, with the symphony of wild mosquitoes, the next day we set out to the fields to help them in reaping the crops but came back with cuts and sore fingers, we walked long distances on the muddy lanes watching little girls much younger than us carry loads of water in their colorful pots gleefully. All these experiences ripped our elitist mindset and set us sailing into the real worlds.
The two days I spent in the village changed my outlook and opened my eyes to the stark realities of life. Not that those villagers were destitute or ignorant, they were all busy and content with their hard lifestyles and earned their two meals and a good sleep in dignity but all we could at that point of time offer them in exchange for the exuberant experience was some English! As we headed back home I wondered if we urbanites would open our doors to them the same way they did!
And I am very thankful to ABVP for conducting such programs that try to bridge the gap in the society and create awareness and empathy that go a long way in shaping healthy mindsets. Hence I too say I am not at all scared of ABVP!
I do not know if there exists anything called left vs right because I know that there can only be a right or a wrong and ABVP is definitely right in its nation building cause and all else is categorically wrong and it is not me who is saying all this, it is the keyboard!