Students should be Barred from Politics

In Favour

“In war, you can only be killed once, but in politics, many times.”

—Winston Churchill

       The recent examples of political violence, took place in Jawaharlal Nehru University, Hyderabad University, Film & Television Institute of India and witnessed by the whole country raises the long forgotten questions once again : is there any importance of politics during student-life ? Should students be barred from politics or be allowed ? There is much apprehension about the validity of student politics among the intellectuals and the common masses. These questions have divided people in two groups—one who supports student-politics with some necessary changes in the principles and one who is directly against it. I consider me as a person from this last group. I believe students must be barred from politics as long as they remain students.


The students of today are the elite of tomorrow. Students comprise a larger community of society. So much of social welfare depends upon their contributions at present as well as in future. What they think for their own and what they think for society must be ideal to accept. So, their visions should not be blurred and insights should not be corrupted by the biased principles of politics. Though politics perhaps is not a bad thing if properly channelled and dedicated to country’s sake rather than making it selfish, but the reality is different. Today’s politics is an institution, used by the politicians to show the power and arrogance to others. It is a game of power-mongers, who try to prove their fake superiority over others, in order to control them. By sowing the seeds of nationalism in students’ mind, they use them as a machine to serve their own benefit. Students must be protected from being trapped under it.


Some may argue that while the age of voting in our country is 18, then why don’t they enter into politics at that age ? Here, it is worthwhile to keep in mind, that right to vote on right to have anything which the law of a country provides to its citizens is altogether different from being a part of politics. Students have enough intelligence and decision-making qualities to know about their rights and to advocate it properly. Their education and involvement with social affairs give them that insight. For that, they don’t have to dwell in politics, the written and applied ideologies of which are two opposite sides of a river. Students have no need to be part of any political body to prove their social awareness, though it is difficult to keep away from political issues entirely as it has spread infectiously across every field and phase. As the famous English novelist, journalist, and critic George Orwell puts it.


“In our age there is no such thing as ‘keeping out of politics’. All issues are political issues, and politics itself is a mass of lies, evasions, folly, hatred and schizophrenia.”


But our students must be conscious of taking their stand alone without any political intervention and be responsible enough towards their projected goal.


We can’t deny the part students played in some major historical events related to political issues like in Vietnam war or Indian freedom movement. Their successful efforts forced even the Government to change their action. So, students are capable of acting rationally without forming any political party or be a part of it.


In India, the history of campus politics goes back to the pre-independence era. In 1936, All India Student Federation was founded to provide single and unified platform to student community. Then over the years more students’ political wings came into existence. Major student unions like ABVP, SFI, AISA were made out of their national counter-parts. Students-politics became stronger day-by-day and with it the worst side of this campus politics—apathy, agitation, brutality—came to the surface. Today, most of the educational institutions in our country permit politics in campus. In some places student unions even control almost all activities—from admission to teachers’ appointment. Sorrow-fully, many of them are involved in a foul play. There lies a huge disparity underneath. The different unions have different opinions and work as only opposition to each other, which often raises spurt of violence, tension and even death. The recent tragedies are only a few examples. Simply, the death of a student can be compensated with nothing. It is a national or rather global loss. The innocent-mind gets violated in the puzzles of power politics and at the end of the day there remains no difference between bigger parties and student unions. Both of them equally hamper the development and well-being of others, who are not directly connected to it. The violence caused by political influence makes the ongoing academic process come to a halt. This in turn results in serious damage to their learning and career. Their bright future comes at stake. So, what is the significance of such activities, which in turn harm its bearers ?


Students have to acknowledge that they have the potentiality to change the world around. They don’t need the shield of power-politics to chase their goal and to achieve it. They are free to do it by their own. Politics will give no extra-benefit to them. So it is the duty of every student and us also to save this strength from the clutches of power.



The most progressive, articulate, inspired and dynamic segment of the country’s population is the student’s community. The formative period of student’s life should be utilized for an all round balanced development of his/her personality.


I strongly believe that students should not be barred from politics.


Participation in politics trains a student to be a good citizen. It gives him training in the democratic way of life. This period prepares one to face the challenges better and enables one to succeed in life. He grows into a responsible and cultured citizen who is an asset to the nation. It creates in him a sense of patriotism. He knows his duties towards his country. He has a fair knowledge of the affairs of the world. He develops all the qualities of head and heart.


Education does not mean literacy. It means a total and all round development of personality. The much hyped dirty murky nature not-withstanding politics has the potential to inculcate qualities of general awareness, keeping abreast of current happenings and above all leadership qualities in an individual. As a leader in the making, he develops such qualities as courage, sincerity of purpose, a spirit of service, sympathy for the fellow men, self discipline and a devotion to duty. Students who join politics are good orators. They become orators who are assertive, by shedding their timidness and shyness. Tackling problems and solving disputes and handling crisis situations however small or big they may be, infuses confidence in them. It helps in developing skills to deal with people from all backgrounds and of all shades of opinion.


Banning politics will do more harm than good. JNU tried it and had to roll back its decision. Student politics is a microshism of the real big bad world. Any system that chooses its leaders purely on academic merit will fail. The qualities required to lead are different from the ones to excel academically. I am certainly not saying that the two are exclusive but rather identifying that they are distinct sets of qualities. Further, without open debate and discussion how will the administration ever know what the students want ? Who will decide the priorities of the yearly agenda ? It is only equitable and just that those being governed are represented by a person of their choice.


Some people are of the opinion that students can really change the shape of things in the country. The old generation has miserably failed to deliver the goods. Rampant corruption and unprincipled politics have brought the country to the brink of disaster. Why should the students not rise to the occasion to stem the rot ? They have given a lead in several countries and have proved to be the harbingers of revolutions. They can certainly bring change in the sad state of affairs prevailing in the country at present.


Participation in politics leads to harmonious development of a student’s personality. Instead of being a timid, shy book-worm, he grows into an aggressive, dominating and alert young man who knows how to fight the battle of life.


History is replete with examples of students playing a vital role in over throwing corrupt dictatorial regimes, freeing their people from foreign yoke and launching relentless crusades against social injustice and exploitation.


Majority of the great leaders entered politics during their student life. Therefore, political education or training during student life is important for success in life. Many students’ organizations like All Manipur Students Union (AMSU) are big and powerful students’ organisations in the north eastern part of India. Their clout is so great that they could even go against the general people’s verdict. Where politicians fail they succeed easily. The power of youth is a mighty river, waiting to be channelized. The politics of a particular system determines whether this happens in a constructive or destructive manner.


A look at democracies like the USA and UK goes to reveal that the effective democracy does not require politicization of student unions. The operation of student unions in these countries is confined to activities promoting student welfare and there are comprehensive laws governing their functioning. The UK Education Act of 1994 is a good example of such a law, as it not only lays down a democratic framework for the operation of student unions but also provides for fairness and accountability in their functioning.


The emergence of the youth as a distinct political class is especially conspicuous in newly founded nations. The same is the case with India, where organised student movements have played a major role in our independence struggle.


While the role of student unions during the independence struggle must be given its due credit, what needs to be realised is that almost 70 years since independence what higher educational institutions need is a student union whose primary role is to ensure the welfare of students and not political pawns whose sole objective is to promote their respective political ideologies and expand their vote base.


Organisations like the All India Student’s Federation (AISF) and National Students’ Union of India (NSUI) emerged with the objective of mobilising and integrating the youth with the national resistance against British rule.


Post independence, India witnessed the genesis of numerous other student bodies with varied political ideologies and affiliations which played a major role in not only shaping the national mood towards policy but also in drawing the attention of the government towards specific student issues such as admission policies, tuition, academic freedom and student welfare at large.


Many states argue that it is practically not possible to separate politics from student unions given history and the predominant bond that has existed between the two. Major parties like the Congress, BJP and CPI(M) continue to use student unions to establish their stronghold over campuses across the country. As argued, while student’s association with politics is not the issue, in fact it is highly desirable that a democracy like ours demands an educated and cognizant youth for effective participation and reform. What is objectionable is the politicization of student unions.


One can make out that politics cannot be divorced from a student’s life as he continuously interacts with the Student’s Union and various other student associations in college. Students also have a great deal of exposure to mediums like the press, television, cinema etc. which are important agents of political expression. Political Science is a vital part of the syllabi both at the school and college level. This underlines the role that politics plays in various stages of a person’s life. Hence, it is futile to shut out students from politics.


There should be a limit to the extent of a student’s involvement so that a balanced participation does not affect his main purpose, which is to study. While he is not expected to remain passive in the face of criminalization of politics, dismantling of democratic organisations, corruption, communalism and casteism, he should not indulge in factional or partisan politics, or give into the unjust directions of a senior party leader.


What India needs is an efficient higher educational system wherein students enjoy an uninterrupted access to knowledge, healthy debates on issues of national importance and the freedom to dissent without fearing adverse repercussions and if the need arises they should not hesitate jumping into politics if the situation threatens the unity and the freedom of the country.


After all, the quality of our future leaders can only be ensured if the integrity of the institutions that produce them is maintained and the only way to ensure the same is by quashing those forces which undermine the efficacy of the hubs of knowledge, political intrusion being one of them.


Last but not least, the student wing should herald the new, only then do they deserve to be called the promise of tomorrow a better tomorrow.

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