Student power in nation building

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Since freedom struggle students have been in the fore-front of social change agitations

 By Dhirendra Newar

“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.”

–  Mahatma Gandhi.

India has long left the idea of being a laissez faire state and has adopted the path of welfare state. It finds its relevance more vibrantly as India’s below the poverty line population is pegged at around 23%, a considerable size estimated at around 25% of its total population is illiterate and bulk of its youths unemployed. Under such circumstances, the student fraternity, which forges the future of a nation, has great role to play for welfare of the society and nation as a whole.

Students are the beacons of the future of a nation. No society has ever evolved without the right guidance and the social engagement of the student fraternity. All the great social reformers that we may think of today were socially attached students. Great personalities like Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru etc. had been active social activists from the days of their academic life. Mahatma Gandhi was very active social worker while as a student of law in England. He fought for equal rights of Indians and other deprived classes while in England and in South Africa.

It sets the norm that social responsibility for welfare of a society does not percolate on a person once he or she completes academic life or in the mid half of his/her last age. It is rooted from the very beginning of one’s life once a person is capable of learning things and the process continues till death.

However social responsibility does not restrict itself with joining big international organizations that work for human right or in doing a handsome job and in spending a little sum of its salary in the name of community welfare. On the other hand it all begins with the little things that surround a person. After all, it depends on the zeal to wipe out the sorrow that fades the face of anyone and in spreading smiles. And whoever can understand the sorrow of a person with a clear picture of it, other than a student who undergoes a holistic view of the situations of sorrow and misery of people around the globe? Yes, our country is homeland to a handful of multimillionaires and millions of poor. About 25 crore population in our country is forced to sleep half fed every night. However, the irony is that in spite of having more than 50% of our population who are youth, and the considerable size of it being students who have the zeal and the energy to work for a better future, we are still lagging behind in terms of proper strategy to alleviate poverty.

The reason lies within. We think that in a welfare state like India, it is only the political representative or the government who must bear this responsibility of a better India and social welfare. We tend to forget that in order to see the change that we need, we must find the solutions in the scratch. And students have got a greater role to play here. As students we can engage in various social welfare activities like donating clothes, books, organising free tuitions for the poor children etc.

After all, a noble cause does not require public limelight and hype. And none but student can be the forerunner here. It is said that a student is the future of a better nation. The responsibility of a student in the name of social responsibility should not be, however, restricted within various activities done as part of academic performance. They have got the role of nation building as well within their purview of social responsibility and social welfare. A student understands the geography and politics better than many others. Flip the pages of history, right from the struggle for freedom from Britishers to the various political developments in free India like agitation against emergency in 1975 etc., it was the students who took the lead. In the recent years also, JNU agitation and Ramjas College incident among others are worth mentioning, where many agitations were led by student fraternity in the demand and support of free speech and expression and democracy. After all demand and action for a better democratic India is the best form of social welfare and social service, which student community understands the best.

However it is many a times seen in the light of criticism that social welfare activities are often not well paid off and that students should rather invest their time and energy in building their future. But what is the point of a bright future of a student when the future of the society or the nation of which the students are citizens, is at stake? Had this been the mindset of the students who took front roles in the freedom struggle of the nation, we would still be the subjects of the British.

At the end of the day, it all begins with a desire to change and the change must come from the student fraternity from their zeal and will towards the welfare of the society right from their early days of academic career. As Mahatma Gandhi says: “Be the change you wish to see in the world.”

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