On Monday, 20 students at IIT-Kharagpur attended their convocation ceremony wearing not mortarboards but Gandhi topis emblazoned with the words ‘I Am Anna Hazare’, an extra-forceful statement, given that they were receiving their degrees from Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
A few students skipped the event altogether, as an appeal to the prime minister to hear anti-corruption activist Anna Hazare’s pleas and strengthen the anti-corruption Lokpal bill currently under consideration and debate.
Closer home, IIT-Bombay formed a five-kilometre human chain and held a candlelight vigil last week, to express solidarity with Hazare, who is on an indefinite fast in Delhi. Some students also went without dinner, as a token fast for the cause.
Elsewhere in Mumbai, Bandra’s National College organised a protest march last week. And at St Xavier’s College’s annual Malhar mega-festival, NGO India Against Corruption set up an information booth and organised a panel discussion featuring activist Aruna Roy, who has drafted a third lokpal bill.
College students have also taken to the streets, joining anti-corruption marches with ingenuous placards and quirky slogans. Most campuses are abuzz with debate.
Here’s a look at what students have to say…
Sanjana Mumngekar, 17, FYBSc biotechnology, GN Khalsa college:
I totally support the movement. I particularly think corruption should be eradicated from the education system. It is unfair that those with the ability to pay are given admission easily, even if their scores are low, while others who are hardworking and more able are forced to settle for second-best. I am also tired of corruption in government offices. I had to wait two months to get a domicile certificate, but my friend who knew some insiders and paid one of them got her domicile certificate in just four days!
Aarti Chaurasia, FYBSc, Elphinstone
I don’t know that much about the bill, but I am with Anna Hazare. Corruption is a daily occurrence, with traffic policemen, admissions and so-called ‘donations’ in government colleges. It’s about time something was done.
Anurag Jadhav, SYBMM, St Xavier’s College:
This is a novel movement and the first time that an anti-corruption protest has achieved this kind of scale. Corruption is all-pervasive; everyone has been both observer and party to it in some form. It’s an endless web we are caught in. I know so many people who did not need to give a driving test to get a license, and that’s just one of the ways in which corruption is actually dangerous. I recognise that the Jan Lokpal bill is idealistic, but at least it offers a way to control the cancer.
Radnyee Nakhare, FYBArch, DY Patil College of Architecture:
I’ve encountered corruption very often and I strongly feel that the corrupt must receive just punishment. I totally support the movement and also felt like joining the rally, but my college lectures kept me from participating.
Nirav Vira, TYBCom, Jai Hind College:
I won’t join the movement at this stage. I don’t know enough about the merits of the Jan Lokpal bill and I’m pretty certain that most people protesting on the streets do not either. It seems like some people are only doing it to come on TV, and because it’s become a fad.
Students say corruption has already entered their everyday lives, with their worst experiences involving…
* Traffic policemen
* Driving licences
* The passport office
* Any BMC licence