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Youth United!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

If you thought youngsters live with a ‘who cares’ attitude, you don’t know how wrong you were. Today kids do care, and strive to make conscious effort to bring about change. Several students’ organisations active in the city stand to prove this; finds out Pallavi Smart

YOUNGSTERS today are well-equipped to think over matters surrounding them. They want to come ahead and be a part of the process. The students’ unions give them that platform. These unions play a mentor’s role for the lot who want to enter politics. Since politics restructures itself just like any other profession, several wannabe politicians learn the tools of the trade while working with students’ unions which operate as youth wings of established political parties.

Nitesh Rane, President of Swabhiman students’ organisation says, “Politics is not a part-time, charitable hobby anymore. One can take it up as a full-time profession. Youngsters have also realised about the tremendous power that they hold as politicians. We just need to make them realise about their strength as they come up through the ranks. Not that the organisations are working towards creating new faces for their political agenda. But today’s youth want to be part of the most tabooed profession. The broad minds today want to be a part of the process to bring about the change. Which is why so many youngsters, especially collegians are starting their political career at the small level by working with student organisation.”

Aaditya Shirodkar, President, Maharashtra Navnirman Vidyarthi Sena however contradicts Rane’s opinion and says, “Power is not the only thing that student politicians care about. Once students taste the power and influence of the organisation, they take it upon themselves to solve the issues faced by the student fraternity. While most students prattle around, the one who has that social drive takes this opportunity to make changes.”

This social sense among the youngsters today is the motivation for thousands of students to be part of the students’ organisations. Shirodkar aptly puts it, “The network spreads in the colleges. If I am working with a students’ organisation, my friend witnesses the functioning from near. And, if at that time his social sense awakens he is bound to take part in the movement. Now the participants don’t always end up becoming politicians. Many of us get into social work or become active at the area levels without nurturing expectations for a bigger political platform.”

There are different tiers in students’ organisations which are demarcated on the basis of colleges, area codes, or in some cases constituency-wise. Shirodakar explains the hierarchy within these tiers, “A student first becomes the Division Representative in colleges, then Class Representative which leads to becoming a Students’ Council member and finally college’s General Secretary.” Sometimes students are also given areas related to typical subjects. “We ask the volunteers then about their interest area so that the section can be handled by them efficiently”, says Shirodkar.

Although the response varies considering location of the colleges, for the most part, the youth wants to be part of the system. Rane says, “The response is definitely higher from kids of lower socio-economic groups since they have to face more problems in their day to day lives. Thus youngsters from the middle class and lower middle class are more responsive to the student union movements. Their hunger to solve the issue comes from the desire to lead better lives.” Shirodkar concurs with this assessment, “The level of participation and interest does vary between the two types of youngsters. But there is active support from all.”

What motivates these young minds? Dr. Amol Patil, of the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad says, “Getting them introduced to the organisation, asking them about their issues and helping them solve those, is what plays the motivator’s role.”

Shirodkar, on the other hand, feels that no special efforts are taken to motivate collegians, “Students, who have the social sense, want to come ahead. We just need to find these socially conscious kids and put them on the right track.”

However, Rane thinks the issues taken up by the unions invite participation. “If I take up issues that do not concern them, they will feel disassociated from the process. Therefore unions need to take up issues that interest youngsters so as to trigger their active support.”

Patil adds it all up in one phrase, “Today’s youth is very clever.” He feels that education has given them the mental acumen to differentiate between right and wrong. “When they see other youngsters actively participating in the unions, it acts as stimuli for them. They start to think, ‘if he can do it, so can I.’
Absence of students’ council election process is one of the biggest obstacles to the student union movements, according to all the union heads. Patil distillates the problem of the students when he says, “Students do not want to go against the college authorities to save their marks. And thus show low interest in the student union movements.”

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