Student protests have a long and storied history in India going as far back as the Independence Movement. Post-Independent India saw the Naxal Movement receive pan Indian student support, while many from the current generation of leaders cut their teeth as students protesting the imposition of Emergency. Globally, students have been at the forefront of protests against the Vietnam War, the general strike of 1968 in France and Tiananmen Square in China.
Considering the right to peaceful protest is guaranteed by the Indian constitution it is completely legitimate for students to protest against any political issues affecting any group of citizens.
However, students are also a particularly vulnerable group since they are still financially dependent on their families, have their entire future ahead of them but legally can be tried and convicted as adults.
Not just a jail sentence but even an FIR can cause lasting damage on their careers, not to mention being dragged into court hearings for life.
A question that often arises is: are students mature and knowledgeable enough to separate facts from emotion? Opposing the establishment comes easily to rebellious teenagers, but that doesn’t necessarily translate into them taking well-reasoned and informed stands.
It is also pertinent to ask whether students are capable of making the distinction between indoctrination and genuinely believing in an ideology. There is always the risk they are being used as convenient cannon fodder or dispensable pawns by cynical leaders.
Finally, higher education is (mostly) subsidised by taxpayer’s money with the aim of creating a body of responsible, productive citizens. Is this goal best attained by students pursuing their academic programs, or by participating in anti-government protests?
Dr. Hindol Sengupta is an award-winning author of nine books on India covering religion, business, fashion, ideologies, civics, and eminent public personalities. He has been a senior journalist with leading publications and broadcasters in India.More Info
Shubhrastha is a noted columnist and appears regularly on Indian television panels. She has a keen interest in the political developments in India, with particular expertise on the Northeast. She is the founder of the news and media website Churn.More Info
Abhinav Chandrachud is an advocate who practices at the Bombay High Court. He is the author of several books, including relating to the Indian Constitution, and writes for leading Indian newspapers. He is a graduate of Harvard and Stanford Law Schools.More Info
Gurmehar Kaur, author of ‘Small Acts of Freedom’ and ‘The Young and the Restless: Youth and Politics’, is also a social activist and an ambassador for Digital Peace NowMore Info
Raghav Bahl is a multi-award winning veteran first-generation media entrepreneur and broadcast/digital journalist. He founded the Network18 group, one of the leading media companies in India. He is the author of the best selling Super Trilogy which triangulates the geoeconomics between India, China, and America.More Info
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