Situation student going home in cold blood? The

Situation of Student Politics in
Bangladesh

Sohel, a first year student of
Chittagong University, is going home from campus. Suddenly, a massive fight breaks
out on campus. He gets trapped between the two massive crowds of people
charging at each other. Sohel is charged by a group of students and beaten with
rods and sticks. Sohel begs his attackers to let him go and pleads to them that
he is innocent until Sohel takes his last breath. Who are these attackers? Who
murdered an innocent student going home in cold blood? The fight was between
the two rival student political parties of Chittagong University. Sohel’s attackers
thought he was a member of their rival political party and thus attacked him in
cold blood. This is the current situation of student politics in Bangladesh.
Student politics in Bangladesh has had a glorious past, but the present
situation of student politics in filled with immoral deeds such as violence and
corruption, and in the future, the state of student politics will deteriorate
even further.

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Past

            Bangladesh is a country with a rich
political history. From the rule of the British to the current political
situation, students have had a very important role in politics. Student
politics traces its roots back to the days of the British. Before Bangladesh
became the country we call home, student politics had a vital role.

            Students are the fundamental
“component of civil society who can lead the nation towards sustainable
development” (Misti, n.d.). Students were a vital part of the nationalist
movements of Bangladesh. Student politics dates back to the time of the British
rule. Students started “to move against the British regime” (Shahjamal, 2007).
The British ruled over India for nearly 200 years. During those years, “students
were the pioneers” of the struggle for independence against British rule (Shahjamal,
2007). The British used various methods to stop the struggles for freedom, but
the student political activists did not give in. Students formed various
organizations including Pakistani Student Association, Indian Student
Association, and Bengal Student Association. The establishment of Dhaka
University helped fuel the Anti-British student movement. The different student
parties and their leaders “were united in question of independence” (Shahjamal,
2007). Students demanded for their independence from the grasp of the British.
After World War II, the student movement reached its climax. The British were
bound to retreat due to the political power and influence of the students. Due
to the great Anti-British mass movement, the British left India. Students were
the heart of this 200 year long movement. Students were the pioneers and the
engines that ended the British reign and gave birth to the nations of India and
Pakistan. 

            After the reign of the British
ended, two new nations were given birth. Those new nations were India and
Pakistan. Pakistan was divided into two sub nations: East Pakistan and West
Pakistan. Shortly after, the people of “East Pakistan realized that they need
their own country and government” (Shahjamal, 2007). Student politics played a
major part in attaining the independence of Bangladesh. In a sense, “Bangladesh
is the outcome of the constructive student politics” (Tareq, n.d.). Students
have fought for the independence of Bangladesh through mass movements. The
language movement of 1952 was a student movement that obtained Bangla as one of
the two official state language of East Pakistan. Pakistani police shot and
killed three students who were protesting against the curfew placed by the
Pakistani government on February 21st, 1952. The sacrifice made by
students for their mother language is one of the most prominent landmarks of
student politics in Bangladesh. Students played a major role on the road to
freedom for Bangladesh. Students “debated ideas and formed social networks” that
helped establish a plan in obtaining the freedom of Bangladesh (Shahjamal,
2007). Students not only fought for freedom, but also fought for the rights of
the Bangladeshi people. In March of 1971, student political activists of Dhaka
University raised the flag of Bangladesh for the first time. Students risked
their lives for the independence of their country. “Hundreds of thousands of
students took part in the independence of 1971” (Shahjamal, 2007). The Pakistani
government killed many students even before the war started. The mass student
movements and their influence on the people of Bangladesh was a major problem
for the Pakistani government. Due to the patriotism of the students and their
sacrifices, Bangladesh was able to attain independence.

Present

The current situation of student
politics in Bangladesh is drastically different from that of the past. The idea
of politics has to do “solely and uniquely with the activities of the state”
(Alam & Shahjamal, 2008). In the past, student politics was solely based on
the patriotism of the country and the responsibly of students to defend their
rights. We have to support politics. The “disavowal of political membership” is
something that the people should not be engaged in (Lu, 2013). This means the
people of Bangladesh should be supportive of student politics. Presently,
however, the situation is drastically different. Student politics in Bangladesh
is now based on corruption, power, and violence.

Student politicians are seen as “corrupt
oppressors” by the public (Quader, 2017). They are viewed as people who
practice “raw self-aggrandisement” and the “posturing of power for financial
rewards” (Reza, 2010). Corruption plays a major role in the current horrid
state of student politics in Bangladesh. Due to the increasing number of
corrupt methods the major political parties are using to gain power, their
student wings are therefore adapting those qualities. Student politicians are
engaging in numerous corrupt ways of gaining power and wealth through corrupt
means. The “political conception of justice is also a moral conception” (Li,
2016). The general public nowadays views student politics as a “nuisance to day
to day activity, hazard for safety, and a source of insecurity” (Quader, 2017).

Student politicians are now driven by
the thirst for power rather than the thirst for patriotism. The community
depends on students for justice. The “political communities are the proper
locus of distributive justice” and students play a vital role in this community
(Lindahl, 2008). Student politicians control every aspect of public
universities in Bangladesh. Dhaka University is the largest and most fundamental
foundation of student politics in Bangladesh. Every aspect of Dhaka University from
“getting a dorm bed to enrolling in a decent course” is controlled by the
student politicians (The Daily Sun, 2015). They key factors that shaped the
glory days of student politics in Bangladesh have long disappeared. Student
politics is now driven by greed. Student political leaders induce violence and
corrupt means to gain power for themselves as well as for their political
parties.

The main dynamic force of student
politics today is violence. Political violence is happening everywhere.
Somewhere about “60-80 million lost their lives due to political violence and
terror” around the world (Villa, 2008). Violence is a term that has become
synonymous with student politics. Student politicians use violence to attain
everything. This is because of the power their associated political parties
have given them. The political parties in Bangladesh do not serve “as
‘transmission belts’ between citizens and legislators” (Lindberg, Rasmussen
& Warntjen, 2008). Political parties supply students with “swords and even
old guns” (Misti, n.d.). Murder is common when it comes to student politics.
Numerous innocent students have been killed wrongly by student politicians.
Fights between rival student wings in public campuses leave the students who
are not involved in student politics in grave danger. Student political leaders
on campus are feared by all. They play the role of a violent mob leader that
terrorises the entire campus. Students are forced to follow the rules of these
leaders or else their lives are at risk.

Student politics in Bangladesh right now
is a frightening scene. This violence and hate driven wing is causing problems
for both students who are not politically involved and the general public.
Student politics now is an issue of fear. The political parties are helping
create such violent and chaotic personalities in their student political
members. The morals that defined the golden age of student politics have been
replaced by extreme violence, corruption, and a never ending thirst for
power. 

Future

            Student politics is a very big
issue in Bangladesh. The violence and corruption has grown to be almost
unstoppable. If the current trend continues, the future is not looking bright. The
concern of student has been present in Bangladesh for a long time. People
emphasize on the issue, but soon everyone “forgets about it as a new crisis
develops (Mahboob, 2014). The violence is never ending. In Bangladesh, the
“demand for democracy has always been a major issue” (Ullah, 2013). Students
have helped in that struggle, but the corruption is unstoppable. The future
does not look good if the glorious student politics of the past do not return.

            In December of 2012, a young tailor
was hacked to death by a group of student politicians. During a strike, a group
of student politicians “wrongly identified him to be an opposition activist and
beat him with sticks and rods” (Mahboob, 2014). An innocent life was lost due
to the constant violence of student politics. Unfortunately, this is the
continuing trend. Over the years, people have tried to fight against the
vicious forces of political parties, but they have fallen short. Political
parties control everything using corrupt means such as extortion and bribery.
This unlimited power of the political parties gives student politicians the
peace of mind that they can get away with anything. The chilling part is they
often do.

            Recently, the president has taken
actions against immoral means of student politics. It is commonly seen now that
people aged “40-50 years are involved in politics” (Desk, 2017). The president,
at the 50th Convocation of Dhaka University, said, “Regular
university students must lead student politics” (Desk, 2017). The president
also suggested holding fair elections for student political leaders in public
universities all around Bangladesh. This assures fairness and helps establish
effective leadership. 

            Bangladesh is a developing at a very
fast pace. Day by day, this country is taking steps to a brighter future. The
people of Bangladesh has the responsibility to “transform the country into a
self confident regional player” in Asia (Khan, 2011). Unfortunately, they are
not taking necessary steps to improve student politics. The current state of
student politics is not looking good, and the future holds even frightening
scenes. As the political parties become more and more powerful, student
politics becomes more and more violent and saturated with corruption.

Solutions

            Bangladesh has faced the issue of
student politics for a long time. As Bangladesh develops as a country, the
issue of student politics is declining. “Equality is a premise for political
action” and that is the statement Bangladeshi political parties should follow (Adami,
2014). The violence and corruption associated with student politics remains the
same. Student politics cannot be stopped. There are, however, ways to greatly
improve the current state of student politics. Change is possible and it is
happening all over the world. “Many political theorists and critical political
economists have attributed transformative hope” towards the world (Patomäki,
2011). Returning student politics to its glory days requires much work and
time, but the restoration is possible.

            The first possible solution requires
all political parties to dissolve their student wings. Instead, the political
parties should form “youth fronts” that have “country wide network to include
the younger generation” (Quader, 2017). This way, student politics can be
practised; also the youth would be educated on politics through a much safer
alternative. This would also boost the influence of the political party. Due to
the wide network of their fronts, the political parties can spread their
campaign and messages to a greater number of people. The youth can be empowered
in the ways of politics through an effective and non violent method. This
initiative does not involve any cost. The political parties have to take
initiative and dissolve their student political wings.

            The second solution sees universities
taking action. Universities should introduce annual student elections that are
free from the influence of political parties. This way a fair election is
guaranteed. Student leaders are chosen based on their leadership skills rather
than their political influence. The student leaders will work with the “consent
of students” (Quader, 2017). This ensures the students have effective leaders
that can bring improvements to student rights and campus related situations.
Elected student leaders can learn essentials skills related to leadership and
develop themselves to face a future career in political affairs. Achieving this
solution requires no necessary funds. Action taken by the university is enough
to control the violent affects of student politics. The major opposition to
this solution are the political parties, but at the end of the day, it is the
university’s call. They have the power to arrange fair and just elections.

            The third solution involves the
involvement of the general population. “Should democratic politics require wor
on ourselves” (Kompridis, 2011)? Politics depends on the people it represents.
The people of Bangladesh can raise awareness about the dark side of student
politics. Parents can educate their children about the dark sides of student
politics from an early age. Parents in Bangladesh have the most influence on
their children. If parents expose their children to the negative side effects
of student politics from an early age, then those children may steer clear of
student politics. University professors can have discussions about the violence
and corruption amongst their politically involved students. Professors can help
them solve issues regarding other students that do not end in murder. The
“graduates of these universities must join the task of rebuilding” student
politics (Reza, 2010). Graduates can tell student about the difficulties they
faced during their times and explain to student political leaders about the
difficulties current student are facing. Graduates are well respected in
universities and their words of advice can go a long way when it comes to
changing student politics.

            Student politics cannot be stopped.
Student politics, however, can be controlled. There are ways to ensure the
glory of student politics is restored in Bangladesh. This does not have to
involve violence, exploitation, corruption or any other unethical deeds.
Student politics in Bangladesh has had a glorious past. The combination of
effective measures and immediate action can result in the restoration of
glorious student politics Bangladesh was famous for.

Conclusion

            Presently, student politics in
Bangladesh is a massive burden to the students and the general public and it
seems the situation will worsen as we transition into the future, but
Bangladesh has had a glorious past in which student politics flourished.
Students have played a vital role in ensuring freedom for Bangladesh and
developing its political structure. In the present, however, student politics
has been changed. Student politics now involves violence, corruption, murder, and
a thirst for power. As we approach the future, student politics is not
improving. Student politicians are getting more and more powerful thus they are
using much more corrupt methods to attain power. Student politics in Bangladesh
is an effective part of its political backbone, but it can be improved upon greatly.

 

 

 

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