R. RAVIKANTH REDDY

Students' participation in politics is inevitable. This large reservoir of energy can be used to better the ills of society, say some. Others are more apprehensive. Here are some viewpoints

I have come to the conclusion that politics is too serious a matter to be left to the politicians. - Charles De Gaulle Students here seem to be taking the Frenchman's view seriously and their growing presence in political movements indicates that students no longer want to confine themselves to their immediate problems but play an active role in political movements as well. The students unions have a history of being part of political movements in the country though they are not directly related to them. The present political scenario in the State with Telangana agitation picking up, have brought the role of student unions into focus. Incidents of they being in the forefront of political controversies relegating the senior wings of the parties to the background are on the rise. "This phenomenon is not new and is in fact necessary," says P.L. Vishweshwer Rao, Principal, Arts College, OU. He says a healthy political leadership emerges from the universities and cites and points out to Nelson Mandela as an example. Students' participation in movements is a reality world over, he says at the same time warning that it has to be done democratically. Prof. Rao says affiliation with a political party is different from being a part of political movements and students as the most energetic group of the society invariably get into movements. But academics also have a negative opinion on their participation. "It certainly affects the academic environment," says a senior teacher adding that it is a reality that one has to accept. Student unions have their own arguments to support their role and say it is inevitable in a democracy. Srujan Kumar, AISF State presidentStudents are invariably affected by Government policies. Being part of society they take up public issues whether they are political or social. We do not always follow the path adopted by our parent political party but on public issues we get involved in their agitations. Our parent party also supports our stand on this. For example we may not be part of an agitation related to Outer Ring Road but at the same time we involve ourselves in a mass agitation like the power hike agitation. Though both are political agitations our priorities are clear. But I feel one cannot keep a student body away from a public issue. As concerned citizens and without any personal agenda, people look up to students to highlight the issues.

Mantri Srinivas, State organising secretary, ABVPStudent unions should function independently with their own agenda and with the sole aim of benefiting the nation whatever the cause might be. Being part of political movements is very natural for us that took birth just after the nation's independence. Though we take up students' cause, we also respond to people's issues. During Emergency we played an active role in Jayaprakash Narayan's movement. Similarly, we were in the forefront in the agitation against N.T. Rama Rao's ouster in 1984 though we were in no way connected to their political ideology. We strongly believe that students' participation in nation building is essential in whatever form it is and they cannot confine themselves to just their own problems.And our prime motto is to sensitise students on nation's issues apart from their day-to-day problems. We work independently and it reflected when we took out a rally with 75,000 students against the NDA Government's education policies in the nation's capital. The ABVP raised the Telangana issue much before the BJP, to which we are ideologically affiliated, as we realised the need for it. Nannuri Narsi Reddy, president, Telugu Nadu Students FrontStudents are a part of society and they would invariably react to the problems around them. Since most of the issues concerning students or society are directly related to politics the agitations are bound to be political. As we are educated, the ill informed expect us to take up their issues. But student unions have some limitations and they should function within these limits. Their objective should be to sensitise people on the political or apolitical issues using an intellectual platform. Unfortunately, some student organisations are going overboard and doing what political parties are supposed to do. Some organisations have put the real issues on the backburner and are functioning with just the agenda of publicity or personal aggrandisement. There should be a difference between the functioning of political parties and their student wings though they share similar ideology.

B. Rammohan, president, Telangana Rashtra Vidyarthi SanghamOne cannot detach students from political movements though their primary objectives are to take up student causes. We are affiliated to the Telangana Rashra Samithi (TRS) that took birth with the sole aim of creating separate Telangana. And quite naturally we would be in the forefront of the fight despite the Telangana issue being a political agitation. Moreover, the very issue of Telangana creation has emerged from the injustice meted out to people in employment and educational opportunities and students are directly related to these issues. As a students union, we are bound to take up issues of students and we would always fight for their rights.