Student Politics Overview – Course Report

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This is my course report on Introduction to Political Science Course at University. In my dept. this course is thought under general education.

INTRODUCTION

What is politics? Politics is a buzz word in all over the globe. Many people see politics as a bad & uninteresting. It is preserved most often for the middle-aged people. Though it is not true, but students are increasingly concerned about politics in national & international aspect. Actually, Politics is an art or science of influencing people’s trust on social or personal life. It is a pattern of choosing government officials who run the state. The history says the student politics in the world carries great significance. All the greatest movements and crisis periods have been pioneered by students to uphold the flag of truth and patriotism. Politics is also something where specialization can be achieved and career can be made. Like economics, science, art, etc. politics is also an essential part of society today. By involving in politics, student can understand length and breadth of politics and can use his knowledge for welfare of society. Every development is necessary. One can teach politics in classrooms but practical and experience make one understand things better. You cannot understand and learn politics just by classroom teaching.

BACKGROUND

In this research we have tried our best to clarify the past and present situation of student politics around the world. We have tried to dig the condition of student politics in the third world countries and our Bangladesh of its challenges, justification, current debates, outcomes, etc. Student politics of Bangladesh had a glorious past. In an actual sense, Bangladesh is the outcome of the constructive student politics.

OBJECTIVES

  • To know about the student politics around the world.
  • To find out the difference situation of student movement between Bangladesh and other countries.
  • To find out the proper justification, ways.
  • To find out the possible solution against its bad impacts on society and young minds.

METHODOLOGY

The paper is descriptive in nature as it includes fact-finding inquiries of different kinds. Also, it based on the description of what has happened and what is happening. In describing the facts, we use both quantitative and qualitative data. However, quantitative nature is resting on descriptive statistics rather than inferential one and thereby no hypothesis has been formulated. Henceforth the report can be considered as exploratory research as it is going to explore the fact Data which has been collected mainly from secondary sources e.g. book, websites, periodicals, blogs, newspapers, etc. However, in some instances, observational input has been given without any interview or survey (primary sources).

1. MOVEMENTS OF STUDENTS AROUND THE GLOBE

In this topic, there are three different sectors. At first we have to know, what student politics is.

  • Student politics in developed countries,
  • Student politics in developing countries

What is the student politics actually? “The student politics of around the world encompasses the activities and culture among the students, mostly from the tertiary level of education, as part of the support they demonstrate for political parties at the national level.” Without student politics a country will never be developed.

1.1 Student politics all over the globe:

The role of students in politics worldwide is a momentous one. Student groups often mobilize to protest, petition, or lobby for political change. Many universities and colleges have student governments who begin to make political changes within university and college student bodies. These decisions are based on votes taken at student council meetings. Student councils also participate in municipal or federate politics by attending political conference and making contact with politicians on a local or national level. In some cases, “student councils and political groups are powerful forces for change in areas like human rights, educational reform and feminism. Many career politicians begin their ascents into politics during their school life, they may study political science, history, or law while in university or college. Later on, they will use this new knowledge to participate in peaceful protests, student councils, and lobbying” (Sociopath, 2013).

“Educational institutions take steps to provide an important cultivation ground for a new generation of politically-active youth. In general, politically active students will also do well in their university coursework or college coursework. They will understand the value of gaining knowledge, qualification and achievement” (Sociopath, 2013).

Actually, “politicians were all politically active from a very young age, and they choose a direction in life of their own interest in that field. The part of early period in politics of a man is to interpret changes in society that are beneficial to all citizens, and then, to find ways of making sure that these natural process are measured in bills, legislation, and other important political documents. Student politics has a serious impact on the institutional management and education system itself. This also provides a high weight of impact on the national development, education and state business in overall but student politics is one of the ignored areas in the international scholarly debate. In the late 1960’s to early 1970’s, some authors made some contributions in the context of South America and Africa. In 1968, Altbach also made very little contribution on the Indian student politics and its impact on development. The institutions of HE (higher education) in southern Asia is experiencing a high volume of student politics and teacher politics” (Sociopath, 2013).

1.2 In the third world countries:

“Student political activism remain a key issue in the third world despite its decline in the industrialized nations. Students continue to be active in the politics an frequently have an impact on social event. The historical development of student politics and student involvement in independence struggles, the role of the students as the political structures of many developed nations all contribute to the depend on student politics. And more over “It makes a country as a powerful force in the world.” For example: Abraham Lincoln, Nelson Mandela. They are the key points to make a country more developed and more powerful” (Education, 1997).

        “Abraham Lincoln was an American statesman and lawyer who served as the 16th president of the United States from March 1861 until has assassination in April 1865. Lincoln led the nation through the American civil war, its bloodiest war and its greatest moral, constitutional and political crisis. He realized slavery and modernized the U.S economy. So, he is the perfect example for us. That we understand the power of standard politics and also understand that a perfect, unfair student politics makes a country more developed” (Altbach, 1984).

1.3 In Developing Countries:

Developing countries indicates those countries which are not developed still now. Like, our country. Bangladesh is a developing country, but not developed enough. In these types of developing country student politics is more essential. Because in this stage they must be needed pure student politics. If we see the past we can see many important events were taking place because of student politics and it also made a developing country to a developed county trough those events. Some of are:

  • Make a country more developed, more powerful.
  • More conscious student power or manpower than ever.
  • A country that knows its rights and takes full responsibilities which belong to them.
  • Make a great leader like Abraham Lincoln, Nelson Mandela and also can bring out more leaders or leading characters who can lead us in time of our need.
  • Student politics can unite us by a great mean which we have seen in the year of 1971 and 1952.

So, this is the student politics around the world in developed countries and also the developing countries.           

2. SITUATION IN CONTEST OF BANGLADESH

2.1 Background of student politics in Bangladesh:

Student politics in the Bengal region was established while it was under British ruling. Until the 1930s, “there were no student unions in Bangladesh. After the ‘British chastisement’, it came under Pakistani governance and was named East Pakistan. As an independent nation since 1971 (Sociopath, 2013), Bangladesh has administered by both the elected government and martial law. Different types of student politics have existed at different periods. The ‘British chastisement’ enforced laws for all aspects of Bengal, which were not generally appropriate. Particularly, the educational policies imposed by the British administration on Bengal were different from the internal policies which have existed within the UK; and this was the cause of concern to Bengali students. Again, Pakistani rules also force the students to campaign in favor of their rights. Moreover, under martial law, students continue with the revolutionary tradition of student politics. Under circumstances which have been arisen under British ruling, Pakistani governance and martial law, students are forced to campaign in favor of their rights.

The recent upsurge in student politics is different: national political parties have established affiliated student political parties to use the students as their political tools.

During this period, students were collectively facing challenges from different student movements in 1941, students were divided into two main groups, namely the ‘leftist’ and the ‘rightist’. Rightist students did not engage themselves in much political activity within the campus. In 1952, both leftist and rightist political groups are united and played a vital role in achieving the victory for Mother Tongue Revolution. “After independence, Bangladesh Awami League (BAL) formed the government and campus politics were controlled by their associated organization, named the Bangladesh Chartro League (BCL). In 1975, the president of the country was assassinated by military officials and a few days later, martial law was established. In the meantime, the ‘chief of the army’ formed a new political party named the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP)” (Kabir, 2019).

2.2 Present situation of Bangladeshi student politics:

Compared to pre-liberation student’s politics, the nature and characteristics of our present-day students’ organization have changed a lot. “Student politics is considered as an important basis of political power in national politics. They are now powerful not only in their organization or academic institutions, but in their parties also. Those days student politics is neither people-oriented nor education-oriented rather it is oriented toward personal interest and power. Their movements are not for the students, but only to strengthen their position on the campus. They are not the student leaders rather power elites of our society.

In the past, the students were to protest against oppression, repression, and injustice. They were to move for humanity against brutality. Unfortunately, such character of our students’ organization has changed. The kind of our present-day student politics is mercenary, rent-seeking violence and crime loving. Another important trend of our student politics is a confrontation between rival student organizations to take control of a specific region on the institution. For this, even they do not hesitate to kill their opponents. The most devilish of their activities is that they sometimes kill their cadres only to create a troublesome situation in their respective institutions. All the terrorist groups of students are booked by politicians who use them to perpetuate their position in and outside the party” (Sociopath, 2013).

So various student fronts are just a reflection of the main political parties whose immediate goals have more to do with grabbing power and enjoying it while it lasts.

3. CHALLENGES OF STUDENT POLITICS

“The challenges” now the question is what is this about? Is this about what these student leaders face? Or what we face because of these student leader communities?

The challenges and hardships we face for student politics are increasing every year at an exponential rate. There has always been a conflict between two types of student politics teams related to two major political parties in Bangladesh. If we go through the major one, political parties had their glorious in 1971, students played a vital role in spreading awareness, keeping up student movements most importantly the created hardship to the Pakistani military force to advance to progression in this tragic incidence. But now student politics has a huge negative impact on people’s minds. People in Bangladesh just hear the name student politics they only can think of corruption, extortion, fraud, nepotism, maximum people described their characteristics as shortly we can describe that.

Figure 1: The massive contribution of student leaders in 1952

3.1 They are collected to do all the dirty work of government

“The quality of Student politics in Bangladesh has been decreased by a huge rate, the recruitment  process has been corrupted as well, it’s more like a term when a student is not morally good or good in studies, the choose their path to do student politics, student politics have been reached to a level in Bangladesh that any crime report but from further investigation they are all somehow connected to the student politicians and leaders who work under a high authority politician, backed up by the politicians, student politicians gets automatically and insurance and authority that they are supported by the great politicians so they can finally proceed to their ill-evil instincts and practices” (Soikot, 2010)

Fig 2: The chaos led by student leaders

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3.2 Student politics in universities:

This can be related to both domestic and foreign universities. But first, we should know how much facilities student politicians and leaders get in developed countries. If we think of the USA, they have a marvelous history of student politics.

Figure 3: Last post of Abrar on Social Media

Students have periodically played an important role in campus political life as well as in societal politics. Students were active in the anti-slavery movement; they rebelled against military service in the Civil War; they staged demonstrations during the Depression, and they were vocal during the 1960s. While activism has subsided somewhat in the past three decades, students continue to be involved in significant political issues. Student Politics in America is the first book to chronicle the entire history of student political activism in America—dealing not only with the periods when students were dramatically involved in politics, but also focusing on less active periods. (Glazer, 1969)

This is a major incident in which a student of ‘Bangladesh University of Engineering And Technology” died because of severe physical abuse. This is a visual representation that the student politicians and leaders, most of them are unaware of normal human decencies which creates a major challenge against our freedom of speech and basic human rights. This inhumane act of student politics just a piece of evidence that the quality of student politics has decreased to a certain level where every single human being of Bangladesh feels threatens towards this community.

Figure 4: Student Participation on Protest

There is very minor challenges this student politicians face because there is a saying that “if someone has the authority they become automatically powerful”. That means they have the power to do such dirty work as well as the poses and the power to hide them as well.

Some attempt to create a little bit of challenge toward this student leaders. They always try to cover them as the incident is very unique and they have a great past history. “This involves corruption because every time an issue rises after the environment cools down the matters gets dissolved like it never happened” (Kabir, 2019).

Figure 5: Protest on Abrar Movement

3.3 The university as part of society

“One’s attitude toward it, the role of students within it, and the danger of its possible destruction, as a collection of physical facilities and as an institution, can scarcely be determined without attention to these larger questions. The university is implicated in society. It is a rare university that can for any period stand aside from society, following an independent and critical course. Universities are almost always to some extent independent (one wonders, though, about Russia, China, and Cuba), but their insatiable demands for resources inevitably impose on them the need to relate themselves to the major concerns and interests of the society” (Glazer, 1969).

Yet at the same time, a university’s work is in large measure quite independent of the faults or characteristics of any state or government. There is a realm of scholarship beyond political stands and divisions. The science that is taught in the United States is not very different from the science that is taught in the Soviet Union, or Cuba, or even in China—though at that point we reach the limits of my generalization. Even the scholarship of the humanities bears a great deal in common. Researchers have often been surprised by the degree to which the work of the universities is common across radically different political frontiers. The passion of the Russians and Chinese, under Communism, for archaeology, for the exact restoration of early buildings and structures, and early philology is evidence of the scholarly and scientific validity and usefulness of archaeology, linguistic reconstruction, art history.

3.4 Do student leaders contribute anything of real value to the country

The way some student workers of Chhatra League have killed a student of BUET is more than a crime — the killing has shown that the institution has little to no control over the student wing it nurtures.

I have also reflected upon the student wing being infected by gangsters rather than helping the institution on national issues or helping the university administration in students’ affairs. It has also been reported that the student wing in question has been running a “torture cell” in the halls of residence at the university. While we hope to see justice, we also fear that the whole episode, like many others, won’t see the light of day, and will be shelved into the abyss of unfinished tasks.

“We have seen such events in the past. But we hope for the best since our prime minister said she would ensure justice, even though the boy won’t come back even if justice is served. However, we need justice so that such killings do not happen anymore” (Kabir, 2019). We need campuses to be free of crimes and killings.

4. JUSTIFICATION

Student politics is one of the most neglected topics in global scholarly debate, though it is being practiced in South Asian countries like Bangladesh, India, and Sri Lanka for so many years. United, students can play a major role in politics by participating in governmental activities.

In Bangladesh, there are some core student organizations — Bangladesh Chhatra League, Bangladesh Jatiyotabadi Chatra Dal, Bangladesh Islami Chhatra Shibir, and more — that represent their political morals and principles. The history of student politics in Bangladesh carries great significance. All the greatest movements and crisis periods have been pioneered by students to uphold the flag of truth and patriotism.

Starting from the Language Movement (1952), mass movement (1969), Liberation War (1971) to the removal of military dictatorship (1990), students stood beside the mass people in every critical situation to boost up their persistence and potential. Compared to pre-liberation student politics, today’s scene is pernicious and disappointing. “During enrollment season, student leaders try to manipulate the candidates with their dogmas, pushing them towards party politics” (Soikot, 2010).

In some cases, newcomers are forced to join their party. It’s rooted so deeply, that sometimes there is no way without accepting their proposal. This has become widely common in most public universities.  Those who become members of the ruling party are given “power” in their institutes and halls to rule over other ordinary students, which leads to bullying or ragging. It involves abuse, humiliation, harassment of new entrants who may even be subjected to physical or psychological torture. Newcomers get to know about their senior leaders even before they get the chance to know their campus. Most get familiar with the culture of ragging, and if any general student writes or says something that goes against or is unrelated to the student party’s views and ideas, the members add a tag to the student and attack him in barbarous ways. The recent murder of Abrar Fahad, a student of But, is a timely example in this regard. From 1972 to 2014, some 147 students have been murdered, and every murder was related to politics. Some of the murders and tortures have not been reported in the media, but have been swept under the rug using political influence. Today’s student politics are neither people-oriented nor education-oriented, it is all about personal interest and power. The sacrifice is only to strengthen position in campus and halls. They should be called as power elites, rather than student leaders. Where once students fought against oppression and injustice, today they have become mercenaries — rent-seeking and crime-loving in nature. Students are being used as political tools by the student leaders and politicians. So, if a student is engaged in a political party, then how will he be able to fulfill his academic goals? 

According to the Global Innovation Index, among 129 countries in the invention sector, Bangladesh stands at 116th position. In 2018, it was 114th. There is no doubt that student politics is more or less responsible for the degradation in the invention and research field. A country like Kenya (77th) stands well ahead of us. Student affiliation with national politics has indeed forced higher education institutes to close during strikes, hindering the road to development. Student politics is being used as a trump card for political interests. They can’t be the pathway by which one party should progress. In a student’s life, a student must engage in academic progress, and teachers should monitor students from time to time. Institutes must increase sufficient educational facilities, with periodic parent-teachers interactions. There should be separate inter-student forums, which will have no connection with political parties. The aim of these forums must be for the betterment of students and should facilitate academic approaches. If the university authority makes such a framework mandatory and part of the course index, then future leaders, the most important human resources, will automatically rise.  Last but not least, ragging should be banned on every campus and hall. If someone neglects the rules, he or she should be given an appropriate penalty.

4.2 Is right to Ban Student Politics:

“Ban student politics” has become the rallying cry for the past few days, in both the social and mass media. The chorus is not new; we have heard this too many times. Each time there has been a violent incident on a campus, or a promising life is lost in some fight among or between student activists of political persuasions, the issue comes to the fore. Notwithstanding the shock and grief due to the unfortunate incidents, and the sincerity in the emotional plea to save young lives, the argument to ban student politics as a panacea is misplaced and signals a worrying development. The arguments for the proscription sound like an argument for getting rid of journalism altogether to address the problem of “fake news”.

5. CURRENT DEBATES IN BANGLADESH

5.1 Reasons motivating students towards ‘party politics’ in Bangladesh:

“Most of the student organizations distribute their publicity leaflets to the examinees when they took part in the ‘admission test’ for their enrolment into HE. Besides, the institute’s student leaders usually meet with the examinees at the ‘test center’ of the college or university to inform them regarding the facilities provided for students once they are members in their ‘party’. it is very hard to get accommodation in the college/university halls of residences. Each ‘hall’ is controlled and occupied by a ruling political party. Therefore, student leaders often offer newcomers accommodation, on the condition that they join their political party. A few student organizations also provide free clothes, books and stationery for newcomers” (Sociopath, 2013).

For example, Mr. Moklesur Rahaman a student of DU says “Since I was not involved with any party, I was informed that I would have to join their political party otherwise I would lose my room in the hall. And the threat was very real. My family background didn’t allow me to afford private accommodation; therefore I had no alternative but to join their party.

5.2 Merits of students politics in the context of Bangladesh:

Student politics build future leaders: By participating in student politics, an individual learns political attitude. He learns group behavior toward the political problem. Learns how to lead a group as well as know-how to influence people’s beliefs on a particular matter. Knows, how to control an unrest situation. In this way, an individual develops a leadership attitude within himself, which contribute the individual to be a future leader. “To be a component of civil society: Students are the important component of civil and elite society who can lead the nation toward sustainable and expected development and it is possible by student politics. Protesting against the irrational activities by the government: It was only the student unity which ‘campaigned and fought’ against Pakistani Government for 1952’s Mother Tongue Revolution because Bangladesh was not an independent nation at the time. Therefore, no established national political parties exist in Bengal in 1952. Learning the skill of public communication: Student politicians organize some kinds of social and political activities, and this has provided them with opportunities to learn the skills of ‘public communication’, coordinating people, participatory approaches and leadership. Help to secure student rights: Faculty members in government universities and colleges offer private coaching to students or they can also work with private institutes to earn extra income. As a result, the quality of education provided by government higher education institutes is deteriorating. Therefore, Student politicians can campaign to address these issues” (Sociopath, 2013).

5.3 Demerits of student’s politics in the context of Bangladesh:

“Impacts on the educational environment: Student politics has deteriorated the educational atmosphere in our country. For example, DU is the apex of the country’s higher educational institutes. Therefore, the student politics of DU control student politics for the whole country. But emergencies created by DU’s student politics have resulted in the establishment of a ‘police camp’ within the campus. Moreover, the unrest created by student politics has forced the authorities to move Dhanmondi police station closer to the university campuses. It should be mentioned that Ramna and Lalbagh police stations are already located close to the campuses. Dhaka University, Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (BUET) and Dhaka Medical College are located adjacently. If a situation requires stationing the police within the vicinity, how can the higher educational institutes perform their regular activities? Student organizations often fight amongst each other to establish their parties’ authority within the campus and surroundings. It is now common for higher educational institutes to be closed down due to the strikes caused by student politics.

Impact of student politics on education and institutional management: Student organizations’ affiliation with the national political parties has indeed forced the HE institutes to be closed down during these Hartal periods. As a result of Hartal being called by different national political parties, more than 30 days are futile within a year. In an academic year, a minimum of 20 days is usually lost due to student political unrest. If circumstances have forced the higher educational institute to be closed down for more than 50 days in an academic year, how will the institute provide appropriate higher education? It cannot do so. Illegal support from his political party: A student leader at Jahangirnagar University had ‘scored a century’ of rapes. Although BCL had expelled him from their party. The question that should be asked, however, is how was the student allowed to achieve such a shameful record? It is important to ask why the party did not take necessary action after the first rape and how this student was allowed to pursue his education abroad. Certainly, it is proven that he had received illegal support from his political party. No respect for their teachers and elderly people: Students involved in politics have no respect for their teachers and elderly people. They have also been known to kill their teachers if the teachers try to prevent them from committing abominable practices. We are also concerned about the murder of a teacher by a student who was protesting against stalking 2 years ago. General students suffer most: Involvement in party politics forces general students to work as the ‘party tools’. They are commanded by their leaders to campaign in favor of their party, especially during the election period” (Sociopath, 2013).

“Brilliant students are threatened with the ‘competition of the job market’: Brilliant Students are threatened with the ‘competition of the job market’ since it is the student leaders who get the jobs because of their association with the national politicians” (Education, 1997).

“Students involved in politics are conducting a wide range of corrupted practices, such as, nakal, baridhakal, jamidhkal, Chadabasi and tender basi which brought upon pollution and corruption not only within the HE but also in society in general. The students at large matter little to the leaders who capture halls, manipulate business bids and hoard benefits and climb the socio-economic ladder, including even seats in parliament. Impact on Development: It is important to note that education itself can play a significant role in national development, so any threat to education is a threat to national development. Present activities of student politics are very disappointing. Student politics hinders not only social freedom but also economic development. For example, As a consequence of ‘contractors’ having to provide ‘Chada’ to the local student leaders to execute the developmental works such as construction/repairing of building and road, etc” (Sociopath, 2013).

FINDINGS OF THE REPORT

Most important findings of the report are following.

  • We have come to know the main theme of student activities around the globe and its history.
  • No verified statistical survey has been conducted in Bangladesh on students and their movements and desire.
  • No specific research on Student Politics in Bangladesh has been found.
  • Further research can be conducted based on hypothesis. For example, current debates by political leaders, its future values, impacts & effects.

CONCLUSION

Each valuable member of society should be attached helping to build the best prospects for our students. Moreover, everyone should know that self-development cannot be an authentic development until Bangladesh is no longer developing. Hence, “a situation of unrest knows no laws, so students’ unrest is a threat to anybody’s life, even that of the political leaders or their children” (Sociopath, 2013). If the government, the political parties, the general public, and mainly the current university communities of students, professors, and administrators don not act with haste and seriousness, the country’s system of higher learning will crumble into the ground. So we need to do some measurement quickly to save our universities, colleges and its young minded students.

References

Altbach, P. G. (1984). Student politics in the third world. Springer, Volume 13, Issue 6, pp 635–655.

antiessays. (2012, March 11). Student-Politics-In-Bangladesh-182298. Retrieved from antiessays.com: https://www.antiessays.com/free-essays/Student-Politics-In-Bangladesh-182298.html

Education, F. o. (1997). Student Politics in America: A Historical Analysis. Paperback , 1-20.

Glazer, N. (1969, July). student-politics-and-the-university. Retrieved from theatlantic: https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/1969/07/student-politics-and-the-university/303378/

Kabir, E. (2019, October 12). Ekram Kabir, a story-teller. Retrieved from Dhaka Tribune: https://www.dhakatribune.com/

Sociopath. (2013, May 30). https://sociopathsbd.wordpress.com/2013/05/30/assignment-on-student-politics-in-bangladesh-created-by-students-of-the-department-of-sociology7th-betch-university-of-dhaka-bangladesh/. Retrieved from sociopathsbd: https://sociopathsbd.wordpress.com/

Soikot. (2010, April 17). Effects of Student Politics in Bangladesh . Retrieved from Problems In Bangladesh: http://problemsinbangladesh.blogspot.com

Star, T. D. (2019, October 10). banning-student-politics-the-solution-1811461. Retrieved from The Daily Star: https://www.thedailystar.net

Tareq, G. (2014). Student Politics in Bangladesh : Problems and Issues. Bangladesh: https://www.academia.edu/12021412/Student_Politics_in_Bangladesh_Problems_and_Issues.

Wikipedia. (2019, October 8). Student_activism. Retrieved from Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Student_activism

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