The Olympic torch relay has given students’ activism a new face, with many struggling to keep up attendance, take time out for studies and also express their support for the Tibetan cause.
While Tibetan students in the Capital are facing acute attendance problems, some of them have skipped exams to be part of the protests. “I began studying for the exams just a week before,” said Ogyen, a History student at St Stephen’s College. After writing his first paper today, Ogyen came to join the protest at Jantar Mantar.
“My classmate Jigme is the regional president of the Tibetan Youth Congress and was is extremely short on attendance but the faculty and teachers allowed him to sit for the exams,” he said.
Not all students have been as fortunate. “A lot of the students who were short of attendance had to run around but were not allowed to appear for their exams,” said Tsamchoe Dolma, an MA student of Delhi University present at the protest.
The involvement of students, however, has definitely created more awareness, with more and more students joining in –– not only Tibetans but Indians too.
Priyanka Chharia, a third-year journalism student was drawn to the student movement through a Tibetan classmate, Pema, an active member of the organisations Students for Free Tibet and Friends of Tibet. “I was a stranger to the cause earlier but having a Tibetan friend who is in exile in India has made the cause more personal,” Chharia said.
Tenzin Choeying, national coordinator, ‘Students for a Free Tibet’ felt there is natural support from Indian students, as the values of non-violence and compassion that the Dalai Lama stands for are also inherent to the Indian culture. “This shared culture is helping students relate to the cause of freedom for Tibet. The student involvement in turn has created a lot of awareness about the cause through active networking,” Choeying said.