Rohith Vemula's suicide has triggered a number of questions and has unravelled the real picture behind Youth Politics. Incidentally, this is just a case in point, be it the Jadavpur University macabre last year or the student uprising in FTII, youth politics seems to be more aggravated and wasted, marred with blood shed, suicide and injuries.
What started as Youth politics
The established democracies of the world believe in youth power as young politicians are free of any associations, are flexible and adoptive toward the past too unlike their older counterparts. In fact, the youth community are seen to be prominent in demonstrations calling to an end for undemocratic ways. The freedom movement of India is a case in point.
If a democracy shows signs of weaknesses, idealistic young people have the ability to pressurise the government for effective functioning. Experts believe that the youth have a different significance in old and new democracies.
In old democracies, the young faced the challenge of fitting into an established political system or making changes. Whereas in the new democracies, the youth have been bestowed with the responsibility of promoting their country's new freedom.
The younger generation in politics has a distinctive, idealistic political ideal that is inclined to change than older generations. They are less loyal to the established traditions. The youth now is more affected by government policies of education, law and order and lifestyle. Hence, the need to be a part of the system arises for one's own sake.
When the disorientation begins
The ideals loose their fervour when youth politics sheds its identity and follows the mainstream politics. The likes of ABVP who adopt and renegate their senior's (RSS) ideology of their own and act accordingly.
The 'Kiss of love' and the 2009 Mangalore Pub attack received a huge opposition from the youth wings of the RSS-ABVP. The violence meted out on the youth was unprecedented and it ironically carried out by the youth.
The students protest against the Vice Chancellor of the prestigious Jadavpur University over the investigation of the sexual assault of a girl student took a violent turn when he refused to resign.
Many of the students alleged they were brutally beaten up by the police inside the campus at night. Students had boycotted classes, brought out rallies, put up posters, voted against the VC in a referendum and even sat on a fast-unto-death in the campus from January 5.
The righteousness for justice was commendable, but the extent to which it was dragged is debatable. Drawing the line where to stop is not something that our youth's have learnt. They fight up, close and personal....a tad too much. Loss of property and precious educational hours is one thing, but the violence associated with it seems to be politically stained at times.
The political interference everytime- be it in the FTII protest or the HCU protest-tells a different tale. Firstly, the presence of political figures in these scenarios is completely uncalledfor and unimportant. It not only complicates the situation, but also loses the agenda of the protest.
Secondly, student unions should be independent of any affiliations. An SUCI or the Youth Congress may not hold as much independent values as that of an independent students' body. The bodies should have clear agendas and they should not be influenced by the pro or anti-political agendas at the national level.
The suicide note of the Dalit student who committed suicide in HCU summarises the dilemma of the disillusioned youth of today. Vemul Rohith mentioned that he believed in a world of ideology and the world around him does not meet his expectations. He quit the battle of life because the reality did not meet his 'idea' of life.
But can we really say that his set of ideas were devoid of any political influence? He believed in Dalit students' rights, but didn't that root in the very divide/discrimination of the upper caste and the lower caste that national politics created? Is it worth a student's life is what we ask.