Rage amongst the Unquiet Generation

Dr.Shreekumar Menon

                  Periodic outbursts of violence in various campuses across the country rattle the nation with increasing frequency. Demonstrations, destruction of public property, burning of effigies, attacks and forced closure of business establishments culminating in a Police lathi charge have become routine in the print and visual media. Why so much of rage in our angels? We all take great pride in telling the world that we have the youngest population that any country has and that we are going to lead the world of the future. Have we ever paused to think as to what the world will be thinking about our young population? The lawlessness, widespread indiscipline, morchas, suspension of teachers, sacking of Vice-Chancellors,  and the repeated clamour to get labeled as ‘backward’ by various sections of the  teeming population, must be making the world wonder as to what is the worth of this young population?

Strangely, this affliction is confined to government run schools, colleges and universities, where token fees, nominal hostel charges, or free facilities are granted. Private institutions and universities, which are very expensive, are not confronted by this kind of destabilizing violence. Recurring episodes of violent disturbances in government run universities has a strong political dimension. A stray incident like a suicide, rape, or eve-teasing sparks off a violent confrontation between the students and the authorities. Campus elections are a major source of violence and bitterness among the students.  All political parties have targeted government colleges and universities for recruiting fresh cadres, brainwashing them with their respective ideologies, and using them to trigger periodic unrest and violence against the government of the day. Since the fee structure in government institutions are very nominal, parents do not take any active interest in the studies of their wards. In sharp contrast, parents of students in private institutions constantly monitor their wards to ensure steady performance. Parental supervision, teacher guidance and the responsibility for repayment of student loan, ensures that students in private institutions give priority to their studies more than anything else.
Students graduating out of government institutions and government run universities face very bleak prospects in the job market. The fact that students of IIT’s and IIM’s do not get embroiled in such mindless disputes and violence is because of their high fee structures. Students understand the financial burden that their families are bearing in the form of bank loans, sale of immoveable property and jewellery, and borrowings from private sources. Cheap education has resulted in degrees that have hardly any value in the job market. It is quite common to read about engineers applying for jobs ranging from civil services to even that of a postman. While the country faces an acute shortage of doctors, many of them opt for civil services. These distortions in the job market create great insecurity in the minds of the young about their future. Anxiety and pent up anger is displayed in sporadic violence and disturbances that keep erupting in the campuses for trivial reasons.
The influence of the visual media on the conduct of the students needs no mention. The low level of debates on petty issues that dominate on the TV channels is characterized by constant, aggressive shouting, yelling and screaming between the participants and the moderator. The students construe that this kind of conduct is the normally accepted civilized norm of debates. No wonder that the young display unnecessary bellicosity on the campuses.
The incessantly rising cost of living is also putting great stress and strain on the young minds. The modern day materialistic world and its varied offerings are all beyond their reach adding to more frustration and anger.
The exodus of well off students to Western countries to pursue higher education causes envy in many tender minds, whose parents cannot even think about such luxuries. To create violent ruckus for any reason howsoever trivial becomes the norm among the disgruntled students. Thus imposition of a dress code, restrictions on hostel timings, toughness of a question paper, strict valuation of examination papers can invite massive and widespread wrath which may end up in violence on the streets in the form of destruction of public property.
Another factor causing great heartburn among the students is the willful discriminative policies enunciated by the government. Students belonging to particular religions are favored with fee waiver; interest free bank loans for educational purpose, interest free bank loans for higher education in foreign countries, special free coaching for civil services, while those belonging to a different religion are denied all these benefits. Serious disparities develop among different groups of students, which are displayed as venomous rage even for flimsy reasons. The bottled up anger and fury of the students get unleashed for any and every trivial reason. It is the discriminatory policies of the government that is making our universities and colleges into battlefields.  
How to curb the violence and aggravated indiscipline? One solution is to introduce compulsory military training. To start with government should make military service mandatory for all those undergoing professional courses. It will not be an exaggeration to state that the Indian population constitutes the most indisciplined mass of humanity on this globe. Whether it is the Elphinstone road bridge stampede that occurred in Mumbai, airport brawl in Raipur by the son of a leading singer, hospital deaths in Uttar Pradesh, W.Bengal, the chaos on the roads, the litter that piles up in every nook and corner, are all perpetrated by the so called educated Indian. There is a clear lack of self discipline among the educated Indians which can be corrected by introducing compulsory military service in the education curriculum.
Job for the educated Indian means a government job, till they get it they deem themselves to be unemployed. This notion needs to be changed by building in students the spirit of entrepreneurship, business skills and acumen, teamwork, and leadership. Government employment needs to be downsized considerably.
The continuously expanding population growth has given India the dubious distinction of having the largest number of births every year. Unless this population hyper inflation is restrained, student unrest and violence are only going to multiply. A third baby needs to be treated as a luxury and subjected to a Population Tax, apart from withdrawing all income tax concessions to the family for life. Tough times call for tough laws and measures.
Student indiscipline needs to be ruthlessly stamped out as it has become a malaise. Parents, government, school administrators, lecturers/teachers and community leaders should collectively bequeath a lasting solution to indiscipline in our schools, colleges and universities so as to make our students reasonable and responsible citizens of tomorrow.
Dr G ShreeKumar Menon, IRS (Rtd) Ph.D (Narcotics), is Former Director General, National Academy of Customs Excise and Narcotics,& Multi Disciplinary School Of Economic Intelligence,India, Fellow, James Martin Center For Non Proliferation Studies, USA. Public Administration, Maxwell School of Public Administration, Syracuse University, U.S.A. AOTS Scholar, Japan, Registrar, Yenepoya University, Mangalore - 575018, Karnataka State, India.Mobile:9810144308, 7022697988.



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