An organization by the name of Children’s Movement for Civic Awareness (CMCA) conducted a national survey of about 10,000 high school and college students in 11 cities last year to get an insight into their civic sense. The survey examined the youth’s values and attitudes towards Rights & Responsibilities, Democratic Governance, Adherence to Civic Rules, Gender Equality, Diversity & Social Justice and Environmental Conservation.
The findings of the study are nothing short of a national catastrophe. Absolutely horrifying.
For example, more than half of the students surveyed want to bring an end to democracy in India and wish to live under a military rule; something like Pakistan we suppose. Over 65 percent students polled want to ban boys and girls from different religions from meeting. About half of the students believe that domestic workers do not have the right to demand minimum wages.
In brief the study shows the youth’s inability to understand democracy as a principle. The overall democratic deficits in the culture of Indian society have not been addressed by our educational systems. In fact, undemocratic educational institutions and interactions continue to mark young people and encourage un-democratic ideas and attitudes, as stated by the CMCA.
Home and educational institutional cultures, parental pressure and popular cultures of hierarchy, discrimination and lack of tolerance seem to mark students significantly than other factors.
The director of CMCA, Dr. Manjunath Sadashiva is quoted to have said in an article on HuffPost India: “The findings confirm our fears about the kind of education we are providing to our youth, or the informal political socialisation processes that are influencing them. We are so focused on creating economic actors through our education. Nobody is looking at the sole purpose of education i.e. to make them humane citizens.”
After reading such an embarrassing report on the state of our educated youth, we don’t suppose anybody can argue against the role of schools and universities in shaping young people into becoming democratic citizen of this country.
And the reason we stress on this point is because there are (and were) people in authority at Jamia who believe, Jamia is not the place for students to learn about citizenship. They argue, Jamia is a place to study whatever course you happen to be in, pass the exams, and graduate with a degree. Everything else is extraneous and superfluous to the true purpose of a university they believe. Democratic values are something you learn outside the university once you’re done with your studies they say.
A particular person with authority we know went to the extent of suggesting political parties to be the institutions where one goes to learn citizenship; parties like Congress and BJP. Universities are a place for education, he said; thus implying lessons on civic rights and duties to be outside the realm of education.
So when you have people with such a narrow understanding of education running universities, it is no wonder students have very little idea what democracy means and what it means to be a citizen.
It is high time we as a nation realize and acknowledge the role of schools and colleges in shaping future citizens of India and make structural changes to reflect our values. Otherwise, we are risking the political future of our great nation.