My university has always made me proud. Whether it was when hundreds of students protested against the molestation of a fellow female student inside the campus premises or when lakhs of people walked together in a protest rally even in heavy rain.
24th December is the fixed date for annual convocations in our university. But this year was different. I knew that thousands of students who have been demonstrating their protests day in and day out over the last few days would turn up for the convocation and yet refuse to accept their degree certificates from both the Governor and the Vice Chancellor to portray their resentment.
But what caught my attention and millions of others worldwide was a particular student who was announced the ‘best graduate’ and yet refused perhaps what would have been one of her significant academic achievements for life – the proud moment of being awarded her degree certificate and accolades in front all fellow ‘jadavpurians’ by the ‘honorable’ Governor.
I could not respect anyone beyond what I felt for her at that very moment. I was proud of my alma mater more than ever now.
Like any other teenager of my generation, I logged into facebook to express my gratitude, but what I discovered changed my overwhelming awe to something else: shock!
Fortunately or unfortunately, I have many of the so called ‘budding leaders’ in my friend list, and there were a range of memes and posters in a particular color with appraisals of the brave heart girl on their timelines but there was something different in them. They accredited and proclaimed the girl’s act to a particular students organization. I eventually came to know that the fellow student who made me so proud is actually a registered member of that very organization which happens to be one of the union office bearers.
This realization made me rethink what I saw and perceived. The association of the girl’s act with the students organization she is affiliated to changed my outlook of her ‘sacrifice’.
Students politics is a weird game. While thousands of hardworking students struggle to make their organizations a success and tirelessly spend sleepless nights in the campus, miss classes putting their careers at stake, walk in rallies and shout slogans, it is perhaps one or two who graduate from a cadre to a leader. The rest keep struggling. Some out of dedication and some out of ambitions, without realizing they are being used as pawns for the interests of others. Out of these ‘leaders’ in every campus, perhaps one or two finally manage to survive the rat race put up by rich NRIs and the politicians’ scions, to probably contest state level or national elections, while most perish.
While the rest of the students put their respective careers at stake for establishing the political careers of their so called ‘leaders’, they themselves barely care to build their own and remain ‘informally employed’ surviving on party funds throughout their lives and on basis of party donations received from the well to do.
Coming to my campus, the elections are approaching. Both the party in power and the opposition are secretly busy with their respective manifestos. Each desperately wants to malign the other in front of thousands of students by brainwashing them using their respective campaigns, and yes also through those copious “sitting” sessions.
‘Hokkolorob’ has been portrayed as an independent student movement, this is why it has attracted such a large support base. The sudden association of this brave girl’s act with party colors (literally) awakened the realization in my mind that it would also go on to form the fodder for the manifesto for every students organization which thousands of naively gullible students would be brainwashed into believing. In fact, some of the activists have already started accusing the other sides. The organization elected in the Union is sure to be blamed, as the incident of molestation took place during the fest they organized and perhaps their defense would be this brave act, or perhaps a mode of their propaganda.
We, the bulk of students, made the movement, which, finding its way utilitarianly into campus politics and certain factions for the interests of a few is parochial to the core. This is all I have to say.
FYI: I am neither a part of any strategy, nor campaigning on behalf of any of the organizations. Appalled is all I am. And neither is my intention to malign the girl (I have not even been vocal about her identity) in question nor her dignity and integrity. I am just reluctant to let my labor of missing every class, walking every rally and reciting every slogan turn into someone’s ‘winning strategy‘.
The author is a student of Jadavpur university.