Lack of good, public-sector higher education institutes and the deteriorating condition of school education were chief concerns during an interaction organised by Hindustan Times as part of the ‘Young India Votes’ series at Mata Gujri colleges’ campus here.
Domination of caste-based quota by a rich few among these communities was also a major grouse in this segment, which is reserved for Scheduled Castes. The SAD-BJP has fielded the richest candidate in Punjab, realty tycoon Kulwant Singh, who has declared wealth of Rs. 140 crore, while Congress has replaced its sitting MP SS Libra with five-time MLA Sadhu Singh Dharmsot.
The AAP’s Harinder Singh Khalsa emerged as a popular choice among the youth present, though his party and leader Arvind Kejriwal were the main reasons for that.
The participants — most of them first-time voters — believed that despite being reserved, the constituency had seen little effort for uplifting Dalits. Some students also questioned the failure of the gover nments to give justice to victims of the 1984 riots.
With no government college here, the students questioned the price and quality of education in the region.
“After coming from rural backgrounds, we have no option but to take admissions in private colleges here or to move to some other district for higher education,” said Lovepreet Kaur, a management student.
Manmeet Kaur, student of MCom, raised the issue of high fees and monotonous syllabus: “We are studying the same syllabus that our teachers studied two decades ago.”
All of the participants termed the Right to Education (RTE) guidelines of not failing students till Class 8 class as “a threat to the future of the country”.
Even for female foeticide, political science student Rajandeep Kaur said “the government must add special chapters in school education that sensitises students regarding this evil”. “But what can you expect when ministers carry out scams in purchase of school books?”
SUBSIDES AND QUOTA
“Subsidies should be stopped as these only make people dependent on a corrupt set-up,” suggested Satnam Singh, a commerce student.
Many students suggested that the government should bring in industry for better job opportunities that would “actually uplift people’s economic stature”.
“As for quota, there should be economic basis even within the caste criteria… Look at the candidates in this reserved segment: Are these people really from the weaker sections?” remarked at least three participants.
“For instance, what is the point of giving the ticket to Kulwant Singh? He is already a millionaire,” said Satnam Singh, “Has he done anything for the communities that he claims to represent? He is not in the same league anymore.”
STOP GLORIFYING DRUGS
Drug abuse was seen as an outcome of joblessness. And Punjabi music that glorifies these habits was flayed. “Singers have made drugs, violence and hooliganism into status symbols. We desperately need a censor board to tighten the noose,” suggested Navjot Kaur.
“Sale of liquor is not high only in Punjab. Even a state like Gujarat, where technically there’s prohibition in place, sees sale of lakhs of liquor bottles,” claimed Gurneet Kaur, a journalism student, bringing Gujarat CM and BJP’s PM nominee Narendra Modi into it.
At least four students questioned the “communal agenda” of Modi and condemned the idea of SAD seeking votes in his name. Congress’ Rahul Gandhi was seen as “sincere” by one participant, while most dismissed him as “immature”.
Party candidate Dharamsot too faced some heat as students said that despite being elected five times to the state assembly, he had failed to take issues to any lo gical conclusion. Not many students knew about AAP candidate Harinder Singh Khalsa.
“He will get votes only in the name Kejriwal and the idea of AAP,” said Amanpreet.