Students or Goons?

As I pen this, the police are investigating who burned the trains and how to punish them if they ever decide to punish them. Some college students had burned four A.C coaches of the Shramjeevi Express nearby Patna, the capital of Bihar almost a month ago. Apparently they were travelling without tickets in the A.C compartment and they got into a tussle with the RPF and the ticket checker. They decided to get the better hand by torching the train at Bihta. They had somehow managed to round up a few more like minded hooligans at the particular station and went on with the madness. The total losses are estimated to be more than 3.5 crore Rupees. And this is the fourth such incident involving student hooliganism this year, or so the papers report. Something tells me this incident won’t be the last of this year.

3.5 crore Rupees is a substantial amount to be lost in a single hour. Its a sizeable percentage of our GDP. 3.5 crore rupees is enough to provide a mid day meal for the students of an entire district for more than a year. Let me write 3.5 crore in numerals for you to appreciate the figure. 3,50,00,000 Indian Rupees. Destroyed by students in a matter of hours. 3,50,00,000 Indian Rupees. Torched to ashes by the educated students for daring to question them about their law breaking journey. 3,50,00,000 Indian Rupees. Washed down the drain by our future citizens and future leaders. I suppose this would be the ideal moment to shout “ Vande Matram”.

Six decades of independence, a million educational reforms, a billion treasuries emptied to build and operate the worlds largest and most comprehensive educational system ever conceivable by the feeble human mind. And alas we are reduced to train torching-bus pelting-hair straightening-smoking-bar going- SRK lookalike-ripped off jeans clad-witless morons and drugged puppets. I am sure there are heavenly qualities in us Indian students that I have left out in my previous description. But at this juncture my mind fails to register any. So do forgive me.

I could quote history. Instances where students went on a fasts and strikes to end apartheid continents away. Instances where students were instrumental in bringing about an identity to a nation. Instances where history was shaped by resolute students. I could also quote recent history. Instances where American students built symbolical walls against the Israeli aggression. But to what end should I quote them.

I must have failed to register that particular page in my history lessons where we students transformed from social architects to social depressants. I do realize that we have become as impotent as ‘student’ly possible. I could attribute that to our daily diet of MTV Roadies, box office hits, V channel tunes and the countless “Reality” freak shows. I could also attribute our impotence to the requirements of an ever materialistic society (parents included) coupled with the pressures of fashion and cyber romancing. I have also come to terms with the fact that somewhere along the line we have sold our half penny brains through the tantalizing I-Pods for our sun blinding skimpy claddings and accessories. Our star high ambitions are in attaining the over sea glitterati while most conveniently neglecting the neighbouring dust laden shabby slums that support our today and will most definitely bring our tomorrow to a screeching halt if this impotence of ours is not cured in time.

At this crucial juncture of multimedia insanity and junk food addiction it would be utterly inappropriate even to mention the term “social commitment” in the context of student responsibilities. But as I read these reports of student vandalism holding an entire state machinery to ransom I can only hope that the light at the other end of this otherwise dark tunnel is a new opening and not a mad train running right towards us.

This much is clear. The current state of things in the student world is not self sustaining. If the decay is not looked into at this stage, it has the potential to pull down with it all that is even remotely anchored it. I am sure that there are many immune systems within the student community trying to fight this disease, but they are far too few and dispersed to have any meaningful and everlasting impact. But efforts have to be made from both within and outside the student community to infuse in us a discipline that would turn us from hip hop suicidal maniacs into self sustaining responsible citizens.

So even though I can’t preach the perfect solution, knowing that our journey will continue I can give you a ray of hope. After all, the only journey from the bottom most pit would be up.

Raji A Raouf

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