Do students and studies go together any longer? It may sound a strange question to ask since a student has been defined as one who devotes his time in the pursuit of knowledge by engaging in fruitful studies. But the daily reports we read about students’ activities and university situations in the newspapers tell us a different story. Every day we hear and read about students strikes, agitations, gheraoes, fasts and walkouts from the examination hall. We find teachers, professors, and vice-chancellors being made helpless victims of student indiscipline and violence.
One will no doubt agree that youths will be youths and one should give due allowance and consideration for people of that age. It is also essential that the young should be encouraged to be active, bold and dynamic. They should show life and spirit and should not behave like old cronies. But this urge of dynamism should not be carried too far and directed to acts of destruction and hooliganism. Liberty for learning and growth should not become licence for arson, murder and lawlessness. If a nation is to progress and if an individual is to succeed as a leader we have to have discipline and character at all levels. Discipline is not something special or exclusive for the military alone. It is necessary for all citizens no matter what their profession or occupation. Just like others a student should also know his responsibilities duties to himself, his home, community and country. Under normal circumstances, students should not attempt to play the role of elder politicians, statesmen, economists, educationalists and administrators. They should not take the law in their own hands to dictate what should be the syllabus, textbooks and examinations or assessment system. They must have confidence, faith and trust in their elders and show respect to age and experience.
The reasons for the present malady are many but two are basic and need immediate attention and correction. The first one is the legacy of our freedom struggle. When India was fighting for its independence, the students were encouraged to defy the authorities, jump into the freedom struggle and play the part of the grown-ups.
During August 1942 and after, students took to violent methods to advance the cause of independence. But to persist with such methods, approach and attitude after independence is suicidal. Unfortunately, our narrow-minded politicians and self-centered political parties are misguiding the youth and student population. They are using the students as mere pawns in their sordid game of power politics.
The second aspect is concerned with the content and pattern of our educational system. The educational system of today was .conceived and designed 200 years ago by the Britishers. It is an alien product imposed by the ruling masters on the native subjects. This so-called education has made us believe that all things of Western origin are modern and superior and all those of our soil are outdated and inferior. Thus, it has undermined our self-confidence and sapped our strength. The women of Pakistan so long as they were not exposed to this evil influence were able to preserve our great traditions, culture, and values. But the moment they came under the grip of this fashionable education, they beat the men hollow in imitating the West, copying their customs and exchanging their clothes, costumes and manners and also morals. This type of education glorifies materialism and mocks at human and moral values. It makes us job seekers and fortune hunters. It drives us to earn money at any cost and acquire power at any price. It teaches us that the end invariably justifies the means–any and all means however contemptible, callous, despicable, degrading, harmful or horrible they might be. Thus, we kill each other, sell each other, murder our conscience, cheat, adulterate, commit knowingly and deliberately every conceivable sin, just to become rich or to grab power. In the end, with all his money and power, the modern man feels miserable. In spite of his unlimited wealth and power, he is unable to find true happiness and contentment. In his greed for gold and glory, he has trampled over his own kith and kin. He has forgotten his people, deserted his friends and sacrificed his own flesh and blood.
The modern education does not enable men to develop a sense of proportion and appreciate life’s true values. He realizes rather too late in life that he is only a mortal, that he has grown old and weak, and has gone closer to the grave without enjoying life. When it is too late, he sees with a sudden shock, that while everybody wants his gold or diamonds, no one wants him. It is this realization that has made many a youth of the affluent West frustrated and disillusioned. As a result, every nation is faced with violent youth discontent, demonstrations and agitations are increasing, and so is the number of hippies and drugs addicts. Science and technology, walking on the moon or dancing on the stars, is not going to’save us from this disaster.
On the other hand, salvation lies in moral training and in self-discipline. Moral education will enable us to think of others and their interests rather than of our own. It will teach us to love, serve and sacrifice. It will help us to discover ourselves and the glory of our ancient land. Self-discipline will help us to control our emotions, guard our tongues, subjugate ourselves, acquire good manners, form good habits, live within our means, build and maintain good health and do our duty with pride, joy, and dedication. In a nutshell, moral training and self-discipline will mold our character. It will not only enable us to master science and technology but make them truly serve mankind. The need of the hour and the way to salvation is therefore moral training and self-discipline.
The youth and students of to-day should plan for the future while being conscious of their presence. If they do not get entangled too much with the present, manage to keep themselves free from the snores and schemes of the wily politicians, and do what they should do as students, the future will be theirs to build, shape and enjoy as they will. But if they fall a prey to the temptations dangled before them, they will lose the present as well as the future. The youth should not, therefore, wither away their energies but preserve and augment their strength and vitality so that they can conquer, make the future their own and enjoy it. Knowledge is power and ideas rule the world and the youth have the best and the ideal opportunity to gather knowledge and acquire ideas, when they are young, energetic and eager. Youth must read today learn now, rule tomorrow and enjoy the future.