“Say no to proposition 22”, “Join the University Democrats”, “Vote for McCain”, “Johnson for City Councillor”, these are some of the many slogans one hears on my university’s campus. There is an area called the main mall, where students can set up tables and recruit people for their causes, organizations and campaigns. My organization AID Austin, is one of them, we often table at the main mall for raising awareness about issues related to India. Other organizations cover a wide range of issues and political causes/orientations.
I cant say that the average UT student is very politically active, but those that are, have every opportunity to voice and debate their opinions. I dont think that any such environment exists in most Indian schools. In fact, the new engineering ‘colleges’ mushrooming all over India, are depriving young, energetic Indians of an atmosphere where they can understand politics and organize themselves. I may be totally off the mark here, but I cant imagine the conversation in even the hallowed IITs going much beyond Bollywood and cricket (apart from acads). I hope I am wrong on that count. But it seems pretty clear that the extremely focused instis of higher education in India seriously deprive young educated Indians an environment in which they can develop and express any political activism they might have.
Even though the students here are generally not very passionate about politics (they have a lot of other things to engage them 😉 ), but they dont share the cynicism, that their Indian counterparts may (justifiably) have. But the basic issue goes back to the lack of completeness that I talked about in my first post on this subject. It is much more likely that a political science student would be interested in the US elections but if he/she can positively inform/influence an uninterested engineering student, it is important, because everyone gets only one vote. Effective democracy relies on the active participation of every member of the society, and involving the college-going youth will greatly improve the quality of India’s democracy.