The Inter-universities Youth Festival at New Delhi has done well to set about looking into the causes of students’ indiscipline in the country. Thought there is a touch of quaint humour at the reference to bad upbringing in their homes as a cause of unrest, the exchange of views between the students of 25 universities in India cannot but be a useful step towards stabilising the student situation.
Dr Humayun Kabir of the Union Education Ministry had a useful word to say when he spoke up for the system of education. It was not, he said, as bad as it was made out to be. He could have also pointed out that for the majority of Indian students, the existing system, good, bad or indifferent, was the only means of equipping themselves for the future; and that there was hardly any point quarrelling over it. Even for the purpose of reforming the educational system, they had to rise above not sink below it.
As Dr Kabir observed, the symposium on indiscipline was disappointing but it could hardly have been expected to be otherwise. The fact that nine out of the 25 participating universities could not put up speakers on the theme suggests how difficult it is for students to enter on the self-criticism that such an inquiry requires.
The points raised by the speakers were equally instructive: They were reflections of what older men are so fond of saying at convocations, public meetings and other occasions when they have the opportunity to advise the young.
But even if as an indication of the student mind the symposium failed to convey a complete and coherent picture, it has still to be admitted that we have a faithful rendering of present unrest and indecision.
It would be profitable if in future the university students brought together like this are asked to express themselves on some topic less intimately associated with their own academic life.
(EDIT, October 31, 1955.)