MUCH HAS been talked about the students; much more has been said about the politicians, and now it is the turn of the two other important operators of the arena—the teachers and the Chancellor of the State Universities — who share in a fair measure the blame for the prevailing turmoil on the campus.
If the public at large does not know, I would enlighten them that there exists a ghost-body known as the Universities Coordination Committee (UCC), a supremacist academic Ku Klux Klan, which periodically meets in the Raj Bhavan and takes all important decisions on behalf of the teachers, parents and students, who are not even represented on this body.
It is good news that the Report of the Vice Chancellors’ Committee among other things has finally addressed one of the most neglected aspects of higher education: the intellectual and social enlightenment of students through discussions, seminars, debates, and confabulations.
Of all the other public functionaries, teachers alone command that trust and respect, that confidence and authority, which can harness the young into a great social force, worthy of grappling with the stupendous social and national problems.
Since youth constitutes 65 per cent of India’s total population, they can be effective instruments of social change. But on their own they cannot take vital decisions for they are raw and inexperienced and need an inter-generational partnership with older, experienced people. Here it is that the social and national obligations of the teacher—the older, experienced partner—begin. Such partnership will not mysteriously materialise; it will have to be fostered and encouraged.
It is here that I blame the modern day teacher who is averse to his social role and publicly claims that his job is just to teach, and he has no other obligations to discharge. It is this inimical attitude, which is the crux of the whole problem. We talk of the political invasion of the campus, but let us not forget that the teachers have given a walk over to the politicians who allowed them to wean away the youth from the campus.
It is the teachers who never talked to their students; never discussed social and national issues of importance with them. As a consequence the politicians indoctrinated these impressionable youth with their political philosophies and divided them into camps. Thus the young men and women who are so desperately needed to take care of the country are not available.
They are the bonded labour of the politicians. The politicians give them money, power, teach them arrogance, and encourage them to violence with assurance of protection. It was this mindset; it was this arrogance, this mindless violence and tacit assurance of protection that killed Prof Sabharwal. Today it happens to be one political party; tomorrow it will be the other, and we do not have much to choose between them.
The big question is, if political parties can attract the youth to its fold, why not the teachers, who are still respected? The truth is that the teachers never aspired to be the mentor of their students, not realising that they are very special and the nation expects much more from them than it does from any other functionary.
Teachers, more especially in Madhya Pradesh, have failed the nation. We pray that they devote more time to their students, betray greater sense of belonging to their profession and don the mantle of Socrates. With teacher and taught at the right place and in good communion, nothing can go wrong with the country.
I have an affectionate complaint against Governor Dr Balram Jakhar, the Chancellor of the State universities. When he had newly taken over as Governor, I have had the privilege of meeting him with an earnest request that NSS is declared compulsory for all the students and teachers.
He promised to look into the matter. May I remind him that we still await his decision? The Youth Empowerment shall begin the day our young men and women are extensively employed and pushed into social programmes like AIDS control, eradication of poverty and ill health, social injustice and illiteracy. NSS and NCC for some is not the answer to the student problem.