Campus politics in Kolkata is often viewed in a negative light by parents in the households of the state. It is seen as a wasteful use of time that might be ‘better spent’ on academics. Yet year after year, seniors come in with anecdotes of how they too were forewarned, and ignoring this warning was the best decision they ever made, recruiting freshers into the same narrative.
Politics is not a dirty word. We have grown up, seeing the government and their representatives as a conglomeration of the power wielding self-serving other. Thus our notion of politics has become restricted to either being a sham, or a glorified sacrificial necessity “in these times” that are only too volatile. However, we must consider; to what end? To what end are generations of students pledging their fealty to one party or another, and for what cause?
From the outside, it often appears as a rebellion that has been institutionalised, a clamouring, just for the sake of it. Often students are seen protesting gendered or casteist inequalities, however it’s always targeted at the non-specific lofty wrong, never a subjective fire. It seems, that the fire isn’t burning, because perhaps there isn’t one.
If we aren’t fighting for something, but simply for ideals that we always believed in, and yes I find the two to be distinct from one another, are we really fighting, or are we simply shouting slogans?
It is important to understand that only so much can be drawn back to history, heritage, and the great battles that were. Of course it is important to fight for feminism or against caste discrimination, however there is a difference between demonstration and protest, and feeling accomplished by the former while believing to be engaged in the latter, will get us no where.
The youth voice definitely is a compelling one, but not when it’s dissipated. The benefit we as the youth have, is that our passions still burn, not smoulder. We haven’t been in the world long enough to give up on it, in fact we’re just starting out. However our only too ‘relatable’ feeling of being lost, has somehow managed to translate into our protests as well.
We no longer appear a force to be reckoned with, but simply a bunch of (used to be?) teenagers, who don’t know the first thing about the realities of life.
Maybe we need to narrow in. Perhaps in fighting for causes that are being fought for globally, we have lost the little power we had. We need to recognise that our force is a local one, that our voice is feared, or revered, locally, and that’s where it is likely to be impactful. Perhaps if we look inward, and not in the manner Le Pen or Trump intended it, we could actually make a difference.
Why can’t campus politics in Kolkata, apart from of course working for the students’ requirements, protest the wrongs being done in their city? Why must our street plays or comrade marches not be intended at more specific causes? Why can’t we as students look for what is actually going wrong around us, instead of simply being an undefined voice in a larger narrative?
The truth is we can, only if we tried. We could make our politics mean more than just a connection with our vast heritage, but a voice of the contemporary, so that later generations have their past batch to look to, instead of just the history text book.